Tuesday, June 16, 2015

How Truth Is Important in Friendships

I had a phone conversation with a friend a few weeks ago. (I do occasionally talk on the phone even though it's one of my least favorite things.) This friend has three kids six and under and one on the way. She confessed, somewhat timidly, that she needed some time out of the house. She's there constantly: homeschooling, working for church, supporting her husband and she needs some breathing space. I replied, "I was there six, nine months ago." I think she was relieved. Relieved that it wasn't just her. Relieved that she wasn't a bad person, a bad Christian, a bad mom, a bad wife. (Now of course life for Christ means sacrifice. I don't mean that  you go around focused on you. But we can do a few things to stay sane.)

That conversation made me realize how important "me too" can be in relationships, in friendships, in real life. 

Saying "me too" may mean speaking the truth even when it's not pretty. There's nothing to be gained from trying to present yourself as perfect. It's not true and it discourages the people around you. They think "nobody else is struggling with this; there must be something wrong with me." That's not true. Maybe you haven't had the same problem that someone is entrusting you with but surely you can somehow empathize?

You can ask questions to draw them out, maybe even allow them to better understand themselves instead of shutting them off. Questions like, "Why do you feel that way?" "When do you feel that way?" "What do you think would help it?" "What does the Bible says about that?" "Have you prayed about it?" God cares about the tiniest detail of our lives and He wants us to bring it to Him (1 Peter 5:7).

I want to be a safe place. I don't want to speak what others have told me. Not behind their backs and not twenty years down the road. I want to rejoice with those that rejoice. I want to grieve with those that grieve. I want to speak the truth in love. I want to serve with compassion. I want to pray with urgency. None of this, "Well, that's just because they are stupid." 

Maybe it was a stupid thing to do. Maybe no one taught them any better. 

A lot of this involves keeping my opinions to myself. So many things don't really matter. That's why I haven't blogged about natural birth (although I'm considering a post). I've had three natural births; I have something to say about them. I've talked to people in person about them when they've asked. But it's not that important. It doesn't matter one hill of beans if you get an epidural or if you end up needing a c-section; you make that choice for your situation. I have my reasons for preferring natural birth and that's all there is to it. 

Being a friend may mean speaking the truth even if it's not the nicest thing to say. Now I'm not condoning being rude but I don't want to be a friend that just agrees to be nice. I think I'm going to quit trying to be nice actually; it's a bad goal. Instead I want to be loyal. I want to be compassionate. I want to be genuine. I want to be enthusiastic. I want to be Biblical. But not nice. 

Nice is too easily twisted into what I think they will like, what they will be impressed by. That's not where I want to operate from; I want to operate from the principles of the Bible and nothing else.  Sometimes that means telling friends things they don't want to hear. Sometimes that means opening up about problems in my own life and not pretending about where I am.  

Friendships are important and I want to do them well. Where does speaking the truth come into play in your friendships? 

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