“Please give three references.” I was helping someone I’d recently met to fill out a job application. She’d already listed her contact information, work experiences, and skills. Now she just had to list three people who knew her well, and she could turn in the form.
I figured that she didn’t need my assistance with this part, so I moved on to helping another person. But later, when I reviewed the woman’s application, I realized that, for her, this had been the most challenging question of all. Yes, she had listed three people, but they were people I knew well—and I knew they didn’t know her at all.
Years ago I was part of a large Bible study. At the beginning, the leader pointed out that, with our different interpretations, backgrounds, and church traditions, we wouldn’t always agree with one another. However, that didn’t mean we couldn’t be kind, or patient, or even friends. At the top of our first study sheet was the dictum: “We agree to disagree agreeably.”
Apparently, that concept is now as passé as rotary telephones and hoop skirts.
Pots of blooming bulbs greet me as I walk into Walmart. Last month’s heart-shaped boxes of chocolate have been replaced with jelly beans, pastel peeps, and chocolate rabbits. Displays at the end of the aisles feature stuffed bunnies and lambs. And at church, there’s the annual push to invite guests to the Easter service.
This year, Easter (aka “Resurrection Sunday”) falls on March 27. That’s only a couple of weeks away. If we are going to invite anyone to church, we’d better hop to it.
It’s amazing what you can learn when exercising at Curves. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been a member of Curves for almost three years now—the first time in my life that I’ve managed to stick with an exercise program that didn’t involve swimming or folk dancing. I just need to be distracted while I wear myself out. Curves is perfect for that. Going from machine to machine occupies the body, but not the mind, so we chat with the other women as we huff and puff. These women are a wellspring of fascinating information. For example…
Last Saturday, God gave me a huge hug. I’m still floating.
Last week, a few women in our home group decided it was time for a ladies’ day out. They planned to have lunch at a local tea house, then browse through some gift shops together. Normally, this wouldn’t have interested me very much—I’m not much of a window-shopper, and I usually don’t take well to “women’s events”—but this is the group we joined last May and I’m still trying to get to know everyone. Besides, I felt a nudge, insubstantial but very real, from the Holy Spirit, saying “Go!” So I went.
Here is the conclusion of this 3-part series on discarded friendships. Shortly after our friend wrote the last article, expressing his pain at being summarily cut off from two meaningful relationships, he wrote this:
It’s both funny and sad, how human emotions wax and wane. One moment we’re utterly convinced our ruin is at hand, and in the next we’re dancing in the streets because some small thing has gone our way. … Last night I wrote of a month-long tension which was eating away at me from the inside out, and I couldn’t have meant it more. Today, however, just minutes after waking up, my heart was relieved and my resolve strengthened. All was well in the universe, mostly.
Last time I mentioned that I would post a guest blog about how it feels to be “thrown away.” This was actually written at the end of 2008. Next time I’ll post what happened in these relationships, and what our friend learned from it all.
Someone—actually, two people now—about whom I genuinely care has apparently decided to write me off entirely and close their world to me because of an argument we got into over a month ago. An argument in which neither one of us was entirely right or wrong. And the sad thing is that even when we were at our most heated, I had taken my time to very carefully choose my words, calling them out not through insults, but instead attacking the double standards and hypocritical views which they portray on a daily basis. Even in the midst of this letter I went out of my way to say that while I knew my words would hurt my friend, my intent was to illustrate the truth in love, and that I would rather cause pain with honesty than encourage delusion. I later wrote a follow-up email in which I apologized explicitly for my own faults in the prior argument, which I detailed to emphasize that I knew and admitted to exactly how I was wrong.
Perhaps worse yet is the case of the other friend I mentioned, to whom I let slip a light-heated and superficial sarcastic quip to which they took immediate and serious offense. Sadly, this person (much like any other who knows me at all) is fully aware of my barbed sense of humor…. The remark which upset her was never intended at all as an insult, and it was made at a time during which there was no disagreement between us. She simply misinterpreted my words as a harsh jab, took offense, and hasn’t spoken to me in weeks. …
I’ve noticed a disturbing trend in relationships lately, and I’m concerned. So I’m wondering… is it just me? Or has anyone else noticed this too?
People seem to be throwing one another away. Sometimes, it’s just a conversation they aren’t enjoying. Sometimes, it’s the whole friendship.
With cell phones, texting, voice mail, instant messaging, Facebook and MySpace, it would appear that connecting with another person is easier than ever. And yet, I’m wondering if instead, people are becoming more distant.
There seems to be a change in perception. The person at the other end of whatever communication device you happen to be using becomes an icon, not a living, breathing, feeling human being. Don’t like the way the conversation is going? Stop responding to their texts. Tired of the friendship? Delete them from your contact list. Un-friend them on Facebook. No need to work through difficult issues. No need to consider anyone else’s feelings. No need to even say good-bye.