25 August 2013

Don't Be That Friend

Dear Lissy,
I read a fantastic article about mom friendships this morning, and it got me thinking about what I wanted to leave you for a legacy on this topic. This is a letter from deep in the drafts, and hopefully I'll add more during the coming year.  Friendships are one of the most beautiful gifts God has given us here on this earth.  I prefer to have a handful of close sister-friends in which I invest one-on-one time, but I have a wide circle of people who are dear to my heart that I keep in touch with via e-mail. 
Available framed or as greeting cards here.
 There is only one kind of friendship I have ever ended, and I've been on both sides of the problem. Maybe because we're New Englanders, I rarely see outright hostility. Our drama tends more to the cold war variety, and is rooted in imagining the worst.   I've found that the closer we are in age and circumstances, the more likelihood there is for imaginations. Imaginations can cripple a marriage, too.   I'm not too concerned what a 22 year old single guy thinks about our homeschooling curriculum, but if Dad or another home schooling mom questions me, I start wondering what they're really thinking.

We usually don't judge others who are weak in areas where we're strong. . .
I like to cook.  I cook a hot breakfast and dinner for our family every single day.  I really don't care if you're eating candy corn for breakfast, or heading through McDonald's drive through three times a week.  I'm more than happy to eat whatever you care to serve if I come to your house for dinner.  I don't expect you to whip up a dinner party for 8 -- let's make Ramen cups and enjoy a movie with the kids.  Jokes about my cooking skills or lack thereof don't phase me much, because I'm comfortable and confident with that skill set.

. . .but we assume others judge our weak areas when they are strong.
A friend who has a spotless home just dropped by.  My porch rug and mud mat inside the door are furry and dirty and covered in crushed leaves.  My Webster is still leaned against the porch railing drying off after a major cobweb expedition yesterday.  Cue rogue imaginations:  "They must think I'm such a slob!  I bet that's why he hurried away so fast. . .he must be grossed out."   Ugh.

Now the twist:  We respond to our friend and gossip to others as if they've actually judged us and found us wanting. We pass over the months, or even years, of encouragement and love.  We ignore the areas that we're stronger and they struggle. We go cold when the topic comes up in conversation with her, but eagerly compare notes with other friends we know struggle in our same area.  We mentally divide our mutual friends into "hers" and "mine." We begin judging her weaknesses to make us feel better about our own.  We end up doing the very things we imagined and despised in her.

Don't be that friend.  Don't be the one who imagines she's being judged, and then retaliates against her innocent friend.

What's the real problem?  Pride.  If you start getting frustrated with a friend who's better than you at being a wife, or mom, or cook, or housekeeper, or gardener, or fitness expert, STOP.  
  • Has that friend ever expressed anything but encouragement and hope for you in this area?  Are you thinking true things she's actually said, or things you imagine she must be thinking when she looks at your life?  Are you listening to gossip from another friend's imaginations?  Are you shifting your disappointment in yourself onto her so you have someone to fight?  Have you talked to her and believed what she said, not what you thought she might be thinking?   
  • Have you taken this area to Jesus?  Have you repented of any sin that's causing your troubles?  Have you shown him the pride that's making you miserable?  Have you asked for His cleansing, grace, and help in this time of need?  Have you memorized Philippians 4:8?  Have you read through King Saul's life story and seen how this ends?
You will have at least a time or two during your life that someone really does gossip, backstab, or condescend, and I've already written about that.  This letter is about being a good friend, and realizing how easily pride can tank a relationship that has the most potential for sanctification and companionship.

Love you forever, like you for always,

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