It’s “Friday Friend-day” people!
This is where I share with you some of the life changing lessons I have learned from friends who displayed God’s character in ways I needed to see. Here’s the catch, and what makes this a little….awkward. Sometimes when God is trying to teach me a lesson it is painful. It usually happens in the form of someone rubbing me the wrong way. My initial reaction is to reject this lesson, or person, in order to make that uncomfortable feeling stop. However God has been so gracious to me by letting me learn what he was trying to teach me before it was too late.
After this “Friday Friend-day” blog entry, the rest of the friends I introduce to you will not be in any specific order of “friend importance” mostly because I am not that organized, but also because, well, how do you even rank friends? I can’t. The only order I have is that my hubby comes first, and not because he is supposed to, but because I genuinely like him the best of anybody I know.
However……..I do remember the first time I had serious doubts about this man I married. We were sitting around the dinner table with family, and someone was airing their grievances, at which point we all rallied around said family member in solidarity, decrying this clear act of oppression of which they had been a victim. All of us, that is, except my new husband, who unwittingly replied, “Well, I can kind of see their (the clear enemy’s) point of view.” In that moment my head whipped around so fast to appropriately glare at my other half realizing I did not even know him.
What was he saying?
Obviously there was no other side, but our side. You stick up for the ones you love.
They vent, you agree, and we all demand justice! That’s it! What was he talking about? I was so embarrassed. The tension in the room, whether real or imagined by my own insecurities, was palpable.
I wish I could say that this was the last time my dear husband forgot where his loyalties were supposed to lie.
But it wasn’t.
So many times over the course of our marriage I would share my latest woe with him expecting sympathy, outrage, and the like, but more often than not, I would receive silence.
Is he even listening? I wondered. Doesn’t he know that his required response to my outrage is very simple? We need more outrage people! Who did I marry? What is life?
Then one day God told me the answer to that question….who did I marry….
While he didn’t have the position when we married, he already had the heart. You see when God was knitting Paul together in his mother’s womb, he gave him distinct parts of his personality too.
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
What I didn’t realize at the time, was that God created Paul with this beautiful ability to step back from the emotion of a situation, and see both sides. Knowing that as a pastor,he would be put in the middle of countless disputes, discussions, and disagreements, our Sovereign Lord created him with the natural inclination to be slow to speak, slow to form opinions, but quick to see the point of view of another.
Proverbs 18:17 The first to state his case seems right until another comes and cross-examines him.
What I saw as a lack of loyalty or refusal to back me up, was actually a desire to get to the truth, and help me in a far deeper way then a momentary affirmation would.
There was another reason for his silence. He knew that his opinion would likely not be received well. So while I was unloading the drama of my day, he was trying to decide how much truth, if any, I would accept, versus how much I would take as a personal affront to my character. This is a hard thing for me to admit, yet it is also a common source of conflict in many relationships.
What happens when you share a story? Does the listener have freedom to give their take on the situation? If someone has a different point of view, are they allowed to share it without being shut down? We live in a time when we are married to our ideas. An attack on my philosophy feels like an attack on who I am. However, looking at the life of Christ we see a different response.
How did Jesus respond to the people yelling “Crucify Him!” or the soldiers that literally nailed him to the cross?
“Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”
He saw their point of view, He had compassion, even though they were wrong.
Do you have friends that are allowed to offer a different perspective to the situations in your life, especially the difficult ones?
Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Proverbs 27:6
As we have matured in our relationship, Paul and I have found a middle ground. He has learned to first try to empathize with my hurt feelings or my anger at a perceived injustice, before jumping in with a birds eye view of what might be really happening. Likewise, I have learned that his disagreement with my opinion or perception is not a personal attack. I have learned that listening to another person’s point of view doesn’t devalue your own. In fact, it can often enhance it.
I have not mastered this skill. It is a daily discipline to receive concerns or critiques without contempt. But I am thankful for the grace of God to place a friend,a husband, in my life who could faithfully display this image of God, “the God who sees” – El Roi.