This last Saturday, we had a meaningful time of new introductions among women acquaintances and a gathering of old friends too. We try to host a monthly breakfast meeting with worship, word & wisdom, and often a guest speaker.
This day we had our morning cuisine over coffee, and then I asked the two questions, "What do you do when you are feeling left out? What happens when you didn't get invited?" The questions sparked great conversation and great insights among the gals.
First, we all identified with having felt that way before. Then Marjorie shared about hearing a speaker address that very thing. She shared about NOT judging the 'WHYS' of someone else. "Why did they leave me out? Why did they not answer my email?"
Are we easily prone to pick up an offense when we don't even have any details or facts based on how we feel? That seems to point to more of our own instabilities. And even worse when we involve other people by planting our seeds of discontent and speculation about our assumptions.
What if we each took personal responsibility for our response over the 'feelings' and dealt with them internally before we made lots of assumptions? What if we begin to live with some internal boundaries and integrity about how we respond to hurt feelings.
Could it be that our expectations for others are unfair? It's not too idealistic to believe that as Christ-followers, we can begin to live with predetermined guidelines for how to have healthy relationships.
What if our priority relationship was our friendship with Jesus.
Paul said in Romans 13:10, "Love does not harm a neighbor."
One woman proposed that we seek to understand others by being committed to just asking questions.
Then ask yourself, "What is my authentic expression?"
Do we nurse our wounds by going into "creating a story" mode? That means we may be imagining some fictitious scenarios that carry us further away from the truth of the matter.
What if a true friend challenged our story by asking, "Is it true?" What are you saying or doing by repeating your discontent, and how is that serving you?
I think it's important to recognize that there are different levels of friendship. Are we willing to allow a friendship to 'be,' or does it have to be according to our definition? The wisdom of Proverbs says, "A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother."
If we make an honest assessment of ourselves, we'd sometimes find that our expectations of others are rooted in our insecurities. Only a healthy self-worth rooted in our identity in Christ will help us be more self-aware in our relationships and expectations with others. We may need to get from Jesus what we are trying to receive from relationships.
I'm challenging you to release your judgments of others and enjoy the relationships God gives you and the great variety of gifts and talents, and qualities each friend brings to one another.
Pastor, teacher, author.
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