Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Being a Good Friend to Everyone – Not Adding to their Burden

I had one of those relationships recently that just doesn’t seem to be going right. The trust feature and lightness that I had normally associated as the flux between this other person and I plain wasn’t there anymore--it had gone; for a time... perhaps longer.

I found I kept extending myself to this person, but there was a strong hint of unforgiveness in their attitude toward me; less eye contact, no spark of joy, drudgery to relate with. There had been some misunderstanding. I thought things would have been better sooner; I wondered if things were okay for this person, within their life, at that time.

It’s a vexing problem that I’m sure most people can relate with. I guessed I could only keep extending myself in the hope that this person would eventually forgive me for what they felt I’d done (or kept doing) to them. It’s amazing how threatening we can be just being ‘us.’

One of our most important functions as human beings is in our role of relater--we have to relate with people and the world about us.

When we relate poorly it brings all sorts of negative effects. Poor relationships were never in God’s perfect design. Unfortunately, that perfect design was marred almost from the beginning.

Especially in friendships, but elsewhere also, our relationships should be true and right and also light. They should be about making life easier, simpler and happier for people--as far as possible. This means we should be gentle and nice and kind and sincere, and finally, forgiving.

Being a good friend to everyone starts with us; we can even be a good friend to the person who struggles to forgive us for something that is not our fault--that something which makes circumstances conspire against us.

Most of all we’re charged to make life easier for people by reducing or relieving their burdens as much as it depends on us. Paul advised the followers of The Way in Rome, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” –Romans 12:18 (TNIV).

We must lighten the burdens of all who relate with us by not being difficult, unforgiving, or grudge-bearing. It must start and end with us, and not with the other person.

Unforgiveness on their part has nothing to do with us. It should not affect how we relate with them. We still need to be warm and open; inviting them into fellowship with us all the time, as Christ’s light shines brightly from within us. That in itself is a process of continual forgiveness (toward them) on our part.

My job in the recent dilemma, as a friend, was simply to remain faithful. I had to keep extending myself and understand that this relationship was now in God’s hands. I was comfortable with that. And now he’s fixing it, even now.

Copyright © 2009, S. J. Wickham. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.

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