The Politics of Friendship: What's Love Got to Do With It?
I will never lie and say I’m a people person. I really like helping people and I can know someone for 10 seconds and become endeared to the person, but for real, and for the most part, folks get on my nerves more than a lil bit.
In fact, the more involved I become in a person’s life, the more horrified I am at her personal choices — that have absolutely nothing to do with me, by the way. But, my understanding of “friendship” is that you’re supposed to be supportive of all the dumb choices a person makes and say things like “yeah, girl, he loves you, he’ll come around…” and other such dumb supportive things (and by supportive I just mean things that the friend wants to hear). This way, I don’t sound like a judgmental “bad friend,” the friend doesn’t get mad, and all is well with the world — for the moment.
The truth is, the dumb thing generally builds into a chain of dumb things, which I, of course, remember in vivid detail. I’m never less frustrated, but in an effort to “be nice,” I try my very best not to speak on the issue unless I’m saying something positive or supportive, meaning something that the friend wants to hear. Inevitably, there is one dumb thing that breaks the camel’s back — most likely the dumb thing involves me directly — and I will rail on you for the entire chain of preceding dumb things like the man in the Green Mile spitting out a swarm of flies from his mouth.
As one could imagine, I generally feel better after this relinquishing. At last! It’s said and done. I generally justify saying what I’ve said by acknowledging that what I said was the truth, and it’s about time someone said it. But then I have to re-examine my motive for saying it in the first place. If I said it to feel better about myself, then I’ve succeeded. If I said it to help a friend realize its time to grow up and make smarter decisions, then clearly, I’ve failed. Laying all the cards out on the table with no regard for empathy or concern for how the friend will receive the message only allows the friend to become cloaked with defensiveness. The friend no longer has to acknowledge the validity in anything you’ve said, because you’re just mean, or something. And if the friend isn’t moved to change her life, then what a giant waste of time it all was.
I’d like to think that I am telling these hurtful truths out of a deep love I have for a friend, so she’ll stop making these simple, yet dangerous mistakes. But, love doesn’t hurt. In truth, I just have no patience with people, particularly when they make mistakes, and particularly when those mistakes impact me. And love is patient.
I acknowledged to God, Lord, I don’t love your people. Love is patient and love is kind, and I am neither of those things. And then I got convicted by 1 John 4:20:
If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.
So, I came across this book on Sunday called “The Love Dare.” It’s a 40-day step-by-step challenge to married couples to help them meditate on God’s word and have a spirit of unconditional love for each other. If you are new to The Dithering, you may still have guessed: I’m not married. How could I complete The Love Dare alone, you ask? Quite simply: the most important marriage one can have is the soul’s marriage to Christ. With marriage and commitment to Christ, come the necessary obligations of obedience. Jesus summarized the Ten Commandments with two simple decrees: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all of your soul, and with all of your might,” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 37-40)
It is pretty easy to love a perfect being. God, with His infinite wisdom and power and goodness provides us with every good thing we need. He is always there, He never changes, and He loves us madly. Yes, pretty easy to love, indeed.
People, on the other hand, suck. A great deal. People don’t treat themselves well, so why would we expect them to treat us well? For these reasons alone, I can’t love people because of the way they treat me or the way they make me feel — even the nicest among us don’t always treat everybody right and don’t always make everybody feel good. It’s human nature. Thus, it has to be a love of God for always being good no matter what and always showing kindness to me no matter what I do that I gain the ability to love myself when I mess up, and love people who will inevitably do the same.
This is not a new revelation — I’ve always known that my impatience for dumb folk couldn’t last. I do dumb things, too, and only because of God’s grace and mercy have I not suffered the consequences of all of the dumb things I’ve done. Young people are dead now for doing less than I’ve done.
Thus, in full acknowledgment of my need of a heart change toward the majority of people, I am embarking on the 40-day “love dare.” I will read the book and will blog my progress daily, under the category “The Love Dare.” Please pray with and for me as I ask God to soften my heart and open me up to the completely foreign concept of unconditional love.
Day 1: “Love is Patient” — Jesus, work a miracle!