Greetings, friends! Today, I’ve had something on my heart that I’d like to share about – so draw close and visit with me, for a bit.
This is a somewhat difficult subject – but an important one, I think. I’m talking about offense – and how easily it can be given, within relationships. I think that we’ve all been through it – at one time or another, in our lives. It can come from family, from friends – or from complete strangers. It can be given intentionally, unintentionally – or completely unconsciously. It can be caused by word, by action – or by inherent attitude. Regardless of how it comes about, though – it’s always painful!
I was thinking today about an acquaintance of mine who is in the midst of a very painful time in his life. It had been some time since I had last heard from him, but . . . it soon became quite clear that the reason that he was not his usual ebullient, encouraging self on this occasion was because he was suffering from a boute of depression. When I asked what it was that had brought this about, his response was that he had recently done something that had caused offense, with one of his oldest friends – and as a result, believes that the friendship may now be over. He didn’t mean to cause offense – in fact, it is my belief that he didn’t even know that he had caused offense with his friend! All the same, the relationship between them is in jeopardy.
We’ve all been there, friends. Involved in a long-term relationship with someone – which has developed over time into a close, and treasured friendship. Then one day without knowing it, we say – or do – something that our friend so deeply disagrees with, that they feel like we’ve betrayed them! In one fell swoop, the friendship is over!! I’m not a psychology major, friends – so I don’t have any solutions to propose. I just know that I’ve had these experiences a few times in my life. And every time that it happens, it is always just as painful.
What these experiences have taught me – my friends – is that relationships can be precarious. We’re all created with feelings, and emotions. And the capacity to love deeply. This same capacity also makes us vulnerable. It has been my experience that as we age, we give of ourselves – and form lasting friendships – less and less easily. I think that as we get to be middle aged, most of us really only have a few very close friends. And we treasure those friendships, deeply. Every once-in-a-while, though – life throws a curve ball, and one of our closest friendships takes a turn that we never would have expected! Sometimes, whatever offense was brought only causes a temporary rift – but other times, it causes such a large – and enduring – rift, that the friendship cannot overcome it. On the occasions that a long-term friendship ends suddenly, we always feel a deep sense of regret which can take time to fade. In it’s wake, we usually wind up either drawing closer to a spouse, or another close friend of ours for comfort.
I think that as a partial result of these occasional losses, we wind up meditating on our own behavior – and the quality of our relationships with any remaining close friends. I know that for myself, I wind up feeling a compulsion to run to the comforting arms of my Lord and Savior – as I try to discern what went wrong! In His compassion, and steadfast love – I’m usually eventually able to come to grips with the loss. I would admonish you though, friends – that as you’re working through the process – don’t distance yourselves from others that really care about you! I believe that this is the point that I’ve been attempting to draw to – throughout this whole monologue. There are always at least a few other people in your life who really care about you! If in our grief, we deny any attempt that they may make to love and support us – we could be unintentionally causing a rift, ourselves.
It says in the Bible that acceptance and compassion are virtues. I think that it is important for us, then – as we go about forming friendships – to bear these things in mind at all times. As you keep, and develop friendships through the years – be kind to those you care about – and accept them for who they are, even with their weaknesses and short comings. Have compassion for those less fortunate than yourself – or with special needs. For not doing so is to to not – truly – value, the relationship.
Well, friends – I think that I’ve made my point for this evening. Thank you for sitting and visiting with me, for a bit. My friendship with each of you truly warms my heart!! And as always – if something I’ve said strikes a chord with you – please comment, so that I may be party to your thoughts as well.