Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Friends are like Potatoes...If You Boil Them, They Die.

Relationships are funny. I was recently "unfriended" by someone who wasn't really much of a friend anyway. "I can't have a relationship with someone who doesn't communicate," she told me.

Um...have you read my blog? Communication? Yeah, not really an issue with me.

Nevertheless, we are no longer "friends." And, mind you, this happened within a matter of hours. At 6:30AM I was her "go to" for whatever favor she needed; by 9:30AM, I was no longer at her beck and call. You can tell how all this bothers me terribly.

The thing over which I am scratching my head is, how could we have spent so much time together and had formed two totally different conclusions about our relationship?

She truly believed she was my friend. She rarely let me finish a sentence, she depended on me for countless things, and she always found a way to ignore the advice she'd harassed me to get, or "forget" her promises to return a favor. I had no problem taking her to places she needed to go. I didn't care whether she heeded my advice or not. I had no interest in discussing my personal problems with her. Bottom line is, I didn't care how obnoxious she was -- I wasn't doing any of this to win her approval, and I wasn't looking for her friendship -- I wasn't looking for anything from her. Sadly, though, she didn't get that.

In thinking about all this, I realized I have made the same foolish mistake, as well. Generous, selfless folks who, for reasons I didn't understand at the time, were giving beyond my capacity to accept graciously. I cheapened their gifts by trying to give back, when I had nothing to offer, instead of graciously accepting their kindness. I scrambled to prove to myself that I was just as capable as they were. The joke was on me. They knew how ill-equipped I was; I was the one who didn't see it. If I hadn't been so prideful, I would have seen how desperate I was and how wonderful they were. Instead, I made promises I couldn't keep and spoke with compassion I didn't have. Ego rarely allows other friends in the room.

I don't worry that my "unfriend" no longer calls. I just hope the next time someone comes along who simply wants to help, she sees them for who they really are. Meanwhile, I guess I'll be working on my communication skills.

Are We There Yet?

I watched a driver putter through a school zone. Not the allowed 15 mph -- it is a limit, after all -- but, about half of that. The driver directly behind her immediately passed on a double yellow line the minute we got out of the school zone. Now, I say this not to judge, but to offer hope -- not so long ago, that very well might have been me. Patience, people.

It takes longer to spell "patience" than my husband can wait. And though I tend to be patient with others, I am far less patient with myself and my own goals. The two of us can get quite twisted when we are sitting there, waiting for the phone to ring. Just this morning, I prayed for God's strength and comfort while we wait patiently and obediently for our business to grow. It was one of those "aha!" moments.

Jesus walked this earth for approximately 33 years. He traveled the countryside dealing with bullies, line jumpers, liars, braggarts. and ignoramuses. You don't think His patience was tested? He was perfect, and he had to put up with people like me! Yet, He not only dealt with them, He demonstrated love to them! He knew life on earth wasn't a permanent gig. I'm sure there were plenty of times when he thought, "Father, isn't it time yet? Please!" But, He remained obedient to the Father and His plan.

He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane for the Father to "take this cup" from Him; Jesus feared what was to befall Him, as any man would. It's that fear that can sometimes compel us to pray we can just get it over with. But Jesus patiently and humbly endured all that was to transpire that we might know true love and the forgiveness of sins.

Scripture says, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

 Jesus was tempted to impatience. He was 100% human and 100% God. He chose to love; He chose patience and obedience, so that we might also.

Blurred Vision

The latest news about World Vision reminded me of a story someone told me when I was much younger:

In the late 1950s, a man in a tiny neighborhood owned a grocery. He was quite happy serving the local folks -- folks like Mr. Traub, and Mrs. O'Neil, and the York family. Fine, upstanding patrons. But, in the 1960s, there appeared another group of customers -- men and women who did not look, or sound, or even carry themselves in the same way a the old man's usual guests. These folks were dark and fearsome. They asked for items he'd never heard of before. The the grocer soon began to believe their strange ways could not be trusted. Desperate to protect his livelihood, he decided he could not serve these new customers in his store, and he closed his doors to them. But, Mrs. O'Neil lived next door to Mr. Parker, the dark man, and she thought he was very kind as she watched him help the neighborhood children climb the walnut tree in his front yard. And, Mr. Traub loved watching the happy Coleman children as they danced in the rain, their black faces turned to the gray skies. And the Yorks breathed in deeply the delicious smells coming from the Gaines family's home, and curious of the differences between them, found any excuse to strike up friendly conversation and perhaps, sample the life of this contented family. Soon, the townspeople found the grocer had refused to serve the dear ones they had come to know as neighbors and friends. Embarrassed and offended, the Traubs, the Yorks, the O'Neils, and many others decided they had no other choice but to boycott the small grocery. It was only a few months before the grocer lost his store; with no customers, of any skin color, he was forced to close his doors.

World Vision, a self-described "Christian humanitarian organization," has decided they should employ homosexuals who are in a legal same-sex marriage. The powers that be are concerned the prohibition of homosexual marriages in Christian circles is tearing the church apart, and they refuse to "jump into the fight on one side or another." Call me crazy, but isn't choosing to allow something, when you have the absolute power to disallow it, endorsing it? "We don't want to make waves, so we'll go with the flow," is accepting the direction the tide pulls you, not standing on your own two feet. And didn't Jesus warn us that devotion to Him would turn one against another? Truth brings conflict. To look after your own comfort first and foremost, is to deny Christ

Back to the previous anecdote. The grocer acted out of fear and ignorance. He acted rashly and wrongfully. But this was America -- he had a right to be wrong, and an obligation to pay the price. The townspeople however, despite any inconvenience or backlash, stood in love and biblical wisdom, whether they knew it or not. They didn't burn down the bodega, or paint hateful names on his doors. they chose not to support, or allow, or employ such a person. This was America -- they had a right to be right, and an obligation to stand up for what was right.