Monday, December 20, 2010

Being A True Friend

I wrote the following as counsel to myself more than decade ago. I had reason to review it again and thought I'd share it...

Have you ever had a friend that made you feel constantly guilty because they claimed you did not call  frequently enough or take the initiative to say hello as often as  they  felt you should?  Eventually you probably stopped  dealing  with  that   person because  all  they did was  make  you feel obligated to them.  You may even have felt like telling them: "Get  a life!"

By using the above example, we begin to see the difference between a selfish love and a selfless love.   A selfish love feels self-pity when others do not respond to our love the way we want them to and at times even goes to the extreme of imposing guilt on others when they don't act like we want/expect them to.

So when we become discouraged over a relationship problem we can  consider this:  Upon  becoming  a  responsible adult,  did  we not feel we  had  the right  to  choose  our  friends   and terminate  relationships?   Why then should we make others feel they have any less right to make the same decisions?   Why  should  someone  be obligated  to us whereas we  are  not likewise  obligated  to others  in  a similar situation?

What viewpoint will aid us in having a positive attitude in our relationships with others?  An attitude of selflessness.  Selfless love looks to enhance  others' lives and  by  doing so,  we  may reap the  by-product  -- mutual and requited affection.  If the love is not returned or is deceived, the selfless one, strong of character, has the choice to discontinue the relationship or to attempt an understanding/reconciliation.  But Godly love need not dwell on failed relationships.   Instead, it carries on attaching itself to other prospects for expressions of love.

Realize that the only absolutely lasting friendship is with God himself.  He can not and will not fail us as long as we are faithful.  With this relationship as  our primary  friendship,  central focus and benchmark, human  relationships  become an enhancement  to  our lives  for the present time,  a  gift from  Jehovah, an encouragement  from God  to  help us meet  current  challenges.   So just as when a child receiving a gift from a parent should realize  that  the  gift  is  not  as important   as  the parent's love, likewise we need recognize that human friends  are  not the center  of  our lives -- only Jehovah is.

Yes,  imitate Jehovah  with generous love  but also remember that  Jehovah allows  even the wicked to  pursue their  life  and this  doesn't  "ruin God's day."  Though Jehovah pointedly condemns wicked acts, he does so as a statement of what his standards are for those that want to be his friend.  He does not use guilt as a tactic to discouragingly torment other’s with their shortcomings.   He encourages all seekers of truth and right to put forth their personal best.

So too, the best we can do for others is  to sincerely love them and  share our lives with them without  smothering  their personal growth nor  obligating them beyond what is  scriptur­ally supported.

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