Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Looking past the Labels

Today's post is a bit earlier than normal. I'm just bubbling over with JOY today with the blessing of new friendship. I want to share something I've learned with you. What a blessing it is to have Friendship in our lives! CS Lewis wrote, “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” But how often are we missing that moment and missing the blessings that follow?

So many times we allow a "reputation," labels, appearances, or a comment made by another person to color our perception of another people before we even meet them. As a result we don't extend to them the trust or love that we should. We put up walls before there is even a reason for them, without reason or merit. 

"My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." John 15:12

A commandment! That doesn't mean we aren't to be cautious about who we befriend (lest we be led astray). It does mean that we should extend the same courtesy that Christ does to us when meeting and dealing with others. We never know how an act of kindness or an offer of friendship will change our lives. 

"Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it." Hebrews 13:2

This past year I've learned a thing or two about the extension of kindness and how important it is to not allow "Labels" to influence how I treat people. Case in point...my husband.

Andy and I went to the same high school. At that time we didn't really know each other at all....no impressions, no labels. A few years later, I was in an abusive marriage with two children  (in the process of divorce). At that time, Andy and I were working together at the same restaurant, I worked up front while he worked the grill. I let labels influence how I treated him. A friend of mine put it clearly when she described him this way "he is zany and goofy and people write him off." That's exactly what I did! I wrote him off, and I treated him horribly. Here is an example.

 My husband is so incredibly passionate about his involvement with the fire department. It's no secret. At the time he and I worked together, he had just joined the FD. He was super excited and "gung ho" about it. That's all he talked about. My home was in the same "district" as the department he's a part of. I can vividly remember standing by the warmer on busy days while waiting for an order to be made and saying, "I thought firemen were supposed to be fast, if you can't make a sandwich faster than that, then I hope I never need to call the FD to my house!"

 HORRIBLE!!!!!! Just writing it brings me to tears. No one, deserves to be treated that way! I can't believe he ever considered me as a friend let alone dated me after that!

For years afterward I followed the same judgemental path. Andy and I got along as friends of a sort but I still didn't take him seriously. August 5th of 2011 (yes just a year ago) he and I became friends on Facebook and my perception changed. I'm so thankful that God opened my eyes to how wrong I was, and yes I have since apologized to Andy for how mean I was in the past.  

My point about labels and friendship doesn't just apply to my spouse though. I'm beginning to think of this past year as a time for new friendship. I've been blessed to develop closer friendships with so many acquaintances I had "written" off. Many because I didn't feel we would have anything in common. It saddens me to think of the time I've missed and the friendships I've lost and missed out on because my heart was hard to others. I can't change how I've behaved in the past but I can change how I respond in the future.

"But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds,and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Ephesians 4:20-24

I'm so glad that God offers us the opportunity to put on a "new" self and walk in his Grace. I'll be much more aware of the possibility of friendship in the future. I will rejoice for the friendships I have and those yet to come.

"Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel." Proverbs 27:9

And I'll leave you with this quote:

"But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one's deepest as well as one's most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort - the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person - having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away." ~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

No comments:

Post a Comment