How to Recognize a Brother or Sister in Christ

I have met some of the coolest people while writing this blog. One of these days, I’m going to have to share the story of how God sent some of them to help catch me at the end of my fall last summer. Based on my experience with my readers, I have to assume that if you are reading my blog, you’re probably a pretty amazing person. Or at least, I would¬†think so. And really, isn’t that all that counts? (That was a joke, btw. Hopefully you laughed. The test audience in my head found it amusing.)

But for today my point, such as it is, is that I’ve met some amazing brothers and sisters in Christ out here in the far reaches of the internet.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ is one of those overused phrases that Christians have destroyed. Which is a damn shame because this idea of brothers and sisters in Christ dates back to the very earliest days of the church. It is a beautiful and profound concept that precious few in the church understand today.

Not only is the concept of “brothers and sisters in Christ” a beautiful and profound concept, it’s a damn useful tool for a Christian to have in their toolbox. (I feel like saying damn today. I know it’s unseemly, but it keeps out the riffraff. ūüėČ ) Anyways. Believe it or not, this whole “church/body of Christ” thing would work a lot better if more Christians understood how “brothers and sisters in Christ” worked. So, I’m gonna teach y’all the basics.

At its simplest, you can think of brothers and sisters in Christ as being those people who know God the way that you know God. The amount of overlap between how you know God and how I know God, will determine the level of spiritual intimacy we are able to share. If someone knows God only by name or theology, we may not have much in common. That doesn’t mean we can’t talk and we can’t learn from each other! We’re brothers and sisters in Christ, after all – that does mean something. But there’s not going to be a great deal of intimacy there. I don’t need you trying to correct God’s work in me or stepping all over my boundaries, thank you very much.

On the other hand, sometimes I run into people who know God in a deeper way. Like they’ve encountered God’s spirit. Sometimes they are people who don’t even know the name of the King. But they know his heart. I know that they know his heart because I know God’s heart and I can see that we’re talking about the same God. Even if they don’t know that there is a God to talk about. It just comes through. It’s in what is important to them, how they think, the way they understand themselves and their place in the world. I recognize my Father’s handiwork. But sometimes these people’s judgment is suspect. Like maybe they willfully embrace greed, violence or unforgiveness as positive, useful things.

But then, every once in a while, I run into someone who both knows my Father’s heart and they know his name and his story. Or at least a version of the story that similar enough for me to recognize it as the same one that I know. They even know the rules of the game the way my father taught them to me. These are the people who give beauty and meaning to the phrase “brothers and sisters in Christ”.

These people can be a lot of fun. Sometimes they become friends. Sometimes they are just people whose judgment I know I can trust if I need information or an opinion. In a pinch, I know that I can reach out to this person for prayer and a shoulder to cry on in a time of need. And they can do the same with me. I mean, there are people who I don’t know the names of their kids who know some of my most intimate thoughts. Before I write them here even! And I am the repository of any number of their secrets as well.

These relationships are like gifts from God. Inevitably these people have something that I need for my journey. Even when I don’t have anything to offer in return.

I said at the beginning of this post that some time I’ll have to share the story of how some of these people, including a few I know only because of this here mess I call a blog, were there to catch me and help set me on my feet last summer. It was as if¬†God found just the right people, with just the right background and just the right knowledge, personality and temperament and sent them to me so I’d have exactly what I need. Really and truly, I swear it was like God sent some of his children who were basically¬†Jesus out there looking for me like a shepherd looks for his sheep that got separated from the herd. Although, to be perfectly honest, he could have sent a lot more rich people. I mean, not to criticize or complain. I’m just saying.

But that’s the power of being brothers and sisters in Christ. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Even if you feel very alone. Even if you’re like me and are practically a recluse. (Because I need a car. Rich people. I need God to send me more rich people. Or make my books NYT bestsellers so I can buy myself a car and not be a recluse anymore.)

That’s really what this church thing is supposed to be all about. No matter what your circumstances, you’re never alone when you know the King. There is always help there. There is always someone who will love you in your dirty, broken state. Whatever you are going through, there will be someone walking by your side. The way of the cross is something we must walk for ourselves. But like Jesus, we will never have to walk it all alone. Just keep your eyes open for the signs that the person in front of you might be a brother or sister in Christ.

Peace, peeps!

PS – Damn. (Insert groan here.)

Things to Say to Someone Who Is Suffering

I’m so sorry you’re going through this.

It makes me sad/angry to see what you’re going through. You deserve better.

It won’t always be like this.

It’s OK to be broken sometimes.

Not everyone could handle this with as much grace/bravery/whatever as you.

Sometimes all you can do is get through the day and that’s enough.

I know it’s overwhelming right now, but I believe in you.

Tell me how bad it really is.

What do you wish someone would say to you right now?

Can I pray for/over you?

Obviously, use discretion, but these are all things that you can say to someone going through the worst life has to offer. When dealing with someone in that position, resist the urge to try to convince them things aren’t so bad, to look at them more positively or to practice gratitude. Sometimes life really is that bad and your efforts to convince them otherwise will only highlight how hopeless they feel and make them feel even more isolated by their pain. Pep talks and positive thinking have their place, but in a society where everyone’s supposed to be happy all the time, it’s a gift to demonstrate loving acceptance of someone’s pain.

If you want to lift their spirits, distraction is your best bet. Crack jokes, tell a funny story, let them reminisce about better times or share a bit of harmless gossip.

For more ideas on how to be there for someone going through a terrible time, check out my post What To Do When Someone Starts Crying In Front of You.

The Emotional God

Hey folks – I’ve been trying to write all day and it’s just not happening. I think I’ve written and erased a good 3500 words. Good practice, I suppose. But I probably should have just folded the laundry that’s piled 6 loads deep on the couch. The truth is I’ve been struggling pretty badly lately and that’s never good for my writing. Or much of anything else. I’m just . . . I don’t even know what to say except I’ve just had it. And that re-incarnation had damn well better not be true because if I ever have to do this shit again, I’m gonna be pissed. And I’m going to be a nasty, evil, vile person ‘cuz I’ve tried it the other way and it hasn’t done me a damn bit of good. So, if you could spare a prayer for pitiful me, I’d appreciate it. Maybe God will respond to y’all cuz he’s sure not answering me. OK, that was my pity-party way of saying that I have another repeat for ya. Usual “it’s one of my favorites and most of y’all didn’t read it the first time” disclaimers apply.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting on my front porch steps after dinner, watching my two oldest daughters playing and complaining to God in my head.¬† I don’t remember what it was (nothing too serious), but the husband had done something to chap my hide.¬† As I wound down my complaints and let the whole thing go, I asked God in an almost off-handed way, “do you ever have to¬†deal with people treating you like this?”¬† At which point I’m pretty sure all of heaven burst into hearty guffaws.¬† But¬†soon a funny thing started happening: as I dealt with people in my life, often some parallel experience between God and people would pop into my head. (more…)

What to do if someone starts crying in front of you

We must embrace pain and burn it as fuel for our journey.  ~Kenji Miyazawa
In the spring of 2000, I received a phone call informing me that my husband had collapsed at work and been taken to a nearby hospital.¬† By the time I got there, he was being released.¬† They had decided that he was having an asthma attack, so despite the fact that he couldn’t walk, they gave him a nebulizer treatment, saw it didn’t help and sent him home.¬† I helped him out of the wheelchair, into the car and he pretty much held onto me and the wall on the way to our apartment.¬† Within 10 minutes, he came out of the bathroom, collapsed on the floor and said, “call an ambulance.”

Which is where a good wife immediately dashes to the phone and screams, “help – my husband’s dying!” to the dispatcher.¬† But I hesitated for a split second.¬† There was part of me that wanted to say, “stop being a baby.¬† I’ll help you back into the car and we’ll take you back to the hospital.”¬† He had been sick for over a year and no matter how many tests or trips to the doctor we made,¬†no one could find anything wrong with him.¬† And calling an ambulance is kind of a big thing for another round of nothing.¬† But he had never asked me to call an ambulance before, so I¬†quickly but calmly (I don’t do panic) dialed 911.¬† Thank God.

On the way to the hospital he flatlined.¬† He told me later that he awoke to the paramedic, a small Asian man, frantically trying perform CPR while the defibrillator charged.¬† The qxh is a big man and apparently the paramedic was having a hard time.¬† He says he opened his eyes, looked at¬†the paramedic and asked, “why are you hitting me?”¬† The paramedic looked at him in shock for a second and backed up a bit, looking relieved.¬† The next thing he remembers was waking up to a doctor standing at the foot of his bed laughing.¬† “I just need to shake your hand because you have got to be the toughest son of a bitch I’ve ever met.”¬† He had been looking at the file at the foot of¬†the bed which contained test results showing that he had absolutely no b12¬†in his body and so many blood clots in his lungs that no one ever bothered counting them.¬† I was told it looked on the lung scan as if someone had spilled black pepper over it.¬† The B12 should have rendered him immobile if not dead several years earlier.¬† And you have a 50% chance of dying from one of the sort of pulmonary emboli he had.¬† And he had been at work that day, even though he told me later than he was leaning on walls to move from place to place.¬† His family needed to be taken care of.

When this happened, we’d been living in Minnesota – a notoriously difficult place to make friends –¬†for about a year and a half.¬† The closest family was 400 miles away.¬† I knew from experience that I could handle my younger son who was a little under a year at the time in an emergency room cube. ¬†(I was quite experienced with ERs, doctors offices and hospital rooms by this point.)¬† Our oldest son who was just shy of 5 was another issue.¬† There was no way he could handle what could easily be 6-8 hours in a curtained room.¬† I ended up calling a family whose son was in Noah’s preschool class who he’d had playdates with before and asking if they could help.¬† And they did.

When I made it back about 5 hours later, I still didn’t understand how serious my husband’s medical condition was.¬† I didn’t even know that he had flatlined in the ambulance. (Although I had thought is was odd that the person at the desk with all the paperwork I needed to fill out had asked me, “are you scared?” “No.¬† Am I supposed to be?” I answered and she just smiled and pointed to some line that needed my signature.)¬† So when I went to pick Noah up, I¬†thanked the mother and father¬†and explained that he’d had multiple pulmonary embolism but was responding well to the blood thinners.¬† (The husband was a doctor, the wife a former nurse so they had some idea what I was talking about.) And then I went home and did a little research on the internet and let myself panic a bit.¬† It had been a really serious situation.¬† My husband didn’t get released from the hospital for over a week.

Quite a dramatic story, huh?¬†A miracle even.¬† Or it could be that¬†as some would say, “evil doesn’t die!”¬† I kid.¬† It really was a miracle that he survived.¬† But that’s not why I’m sharing this story.¬† The part I want to talk about happened after my husband was finally put in the hands of competent doctors.¬† This is the part of the story which still leaves me completely aghast.¬† Like mouth hanging open, wordless undone sort of aghast.¬† That family that watched Noah while I was at the hospital?¬† I never got even a phone call to ask how we were doing.¬† I mean, I truly appreciate that they watched Noah for me – having him there would have been a nightmare.¬† But they knew full well that we had no real friends or family nearby and that I was alone with two small children.¬† If it had been me, I would have called the next day, brought over a meal and let everyone at the preschool know what was happening so they could do likewise and then called a few days later again.¬† Even if I didn’t like the person one whit.¬† You care for people who are alone, sick, overwhelmed or scared.¬† It’s been almost 13 years since this happened and I still can’t wrap my head around how¬†seemingly decent people could completely ignore a family so obviously in need of care as mine was at that point.¬† I just can’t imagine what would cause someone to behave like that.¬† And I have a really, really good imagination.

Of course, all’s well that ends well.¬† I powered through and my husband recovered and we even made some actual friends. Unfortunately, I have discovered over the years that this family’s response to being confronted with someone going through a particularly hard time is far more common than mine.¬† I suppose this shouldn’t be as surprising as it is.¬† Why shouldn’t a culture determined to avoid any and all suffering treat the suffering as social pariahs?¬† That really is how people feel when they find themselves on the receiving end of this sort of treatment.¬† Think of how often you have heard or read a letter to an advice columnists where someone complains that since the death of a loved one, a divorce, serious illness or accident, no one will have anything to do with them.¬† Their phone calls go unanswered and the only people calling to see how they are doing are their mother and the bill collectors.¬† A charity may be bringing by meals, but not neighbors or friends.

I do¬†know that I am being uncharitable to a good many people who mean well and just don’t know what to do.¬† And we do live in a culture that leaves a lot of people unequipped¬†to help those who are suffering.¬† Normally, I’m the first to credit good intentions.¬† But so much suffering is compounded by what amounts to and feels like large-scale abandonment at a person’s most acute time of need.¬† I think that upsetting the applecart¬†a bit to address this is more than justified.

In addition to all-too-frequently being the person going through a traumatic life event, I have also been the person who have walked alongside more than a few people going through such things.¬† So, based on my experiences as well as a bunch of research I just don’t have time to hunt down tonight, here are my suggestions for how to deal with someone who is going through a hard time.

1. Stay in touch more than you think you need to.¬† Ask someone else for a phone number or email address if you need it.¬† If you normally talk to the person once a month, call at least weekly.¬† If you normally talk weekly, call a couple of times a week.¬† I mean, if they are uninterested and have to ask, “who is this again?” more than once, back up.¬† But it is so much better to be something of a nuisance than to fall back.¬† When a person is in a really dark place, they need people around them and they often don’t have the energy or wherewithal to reach out themselves.

2. If someone starts crying in front of you, touch them.¬† On the shoulder, arm, a pat on the knee or a full hug if you can manage.¬† There seems to be nothing which is guaranteed to trigger a deer-in-the-headlights response like having someone burst into tears in front of you.¬†¬†I think people feel like they shouldn’t do anything to draw attention to another person crying.¬† As if they might forget if you just don’t mention it.¬† But of course, just the opposite is true.¬† People don’t burst into tears in front of people¬†if they can help it.¬† And now they are standing there bawling and if you don’t reach out to¬†connect, they¬†WILL experience it as judgment.¬†¬†Even if it’s the furthest thing from your mind, your silence will be experienced as criticism for¬†losing control.¬† They will feel embarrassed and ashamed.¬† You don’t even have to say anything – just touch.¬† It will let the person know that if nothing else, they are OK with you.

3. Let the person who is struggling be a mess.¬† When someone is going through a traumatic life event, grief and anger can be a bottomless pit, a person may actively wish that they could die, the laundry may pile up a mile high, the person can be confused and so distracted that they do weird things like leave their front door open all night.¬† This is not a sign that the person is in trouble and you need to stage an intervention so they can get help ASAP.¬† Sometimes life is a mess.¬† But given time, people pull through.¬† We’ve been doing that since the beginning of human history.¬† Yes, some people get stuck, but if it’s a major life event, you need to wait many months before suggesting that what’s going on might need to be addressed more formally.¬† If you jump on someone who is undergoing a traumatic event with “concerns” about how they are handling things, that’s like throwing a tree branch on a broken camel’s back.¬† I know it’s hard to watch someone be in so much pain.¬† Just think of what it’s like to go through it and give them time.¬† More time than you think they should need.

4. Whenever you can, let them know they are normal.¬† A traumatic life event can throw life into such disarray that people going through it can lose all sense of normalcy.¬† Schedules get disrupted.¬† Energy levels plummet.¬† Simple tasks can be overwhelming.¬†¬†People can¬†feel pain and anguish and fear in a way that they have not before.¬† They need re-assurances that they have not lost their mind, turned into a terrible person, or whatever nasty thing they are busy telling themselves.¬† It is normal to be a wreck and non-functional and emotionally overwrought sometimes.¬† Unless it’s been going on for months or there are children being neglected or a job’s about to be lost or crimes are being committed, whatever the person is doing, saying or feeling, it’s normal.¬† Stick with that.

5. Be positive.¬† Unless you are dealing with someone with a serious substance dependency problem or untreated mental illness, a person going through a traumatic life experience is well aware of how bad things are.¬† They will often believe the most god-awful things about themselves and the world and how people see them.¬† Don’t¬†say things that prove them right.¬† Keep your negative opinions to yourself.¬† You can take a vulnerable person and put them into a complete tailspin by deciding¬†that now’s the time to suggest “now you can finally get your life together” or “your life is a wreck.¬† How do you ever expect to recover?” or some such.¬† If you have a negative take on their life, assume it’s the same demon which is haunting their every unguarded thought trying to get you to join in the fun.¬† And don’t co-operate.

6. Listen. Follow the lead of the person actually going through.¬† Don’t assume that you can see their life more clearly than they can.¬† Generally you can’t and even if you can, now’s not the time for it.¬† Just listen.¬† Sometimes I would call people while hysterically upset because I just needed to talk myself down.¬† Really, the person I called could have put the phone down and walked away – it probably wouldn’t have mattered.¬† I just need to talk my way through it.¬† Of course, not everyone has diarrhea of the mouth like me.¬† Some people convince themselves that no one wants to listen to their problems or could possibly understand.¬† Of course neither of those are true.¬† Encourage them to talk by asking questions if they are receptive to it.¬† But even if they are saying outrageous, shocking things, let it be.¬† It’s like poison; it needs to get out.¬† No one expects you to fix anything or offer some profound bit of wisdom.¬† If you must speak, things like “I’m so sorry you’re going through this.¬† It doesn’t seem fair.” will work much better than “have you thought about getting some help?”¬† Yes, of course they’ve thought about getting some help. But right now, you can help by listening sympathetically and biting your tongue until it bleeds if need be.

7. Share what’s going on in your life.¬† Often a person going through some major life event ends up talking about their problems a lot.¬† It is a really nice break to have a chance to just chit-chat about your new washer or the argument you’re having with your sister-in-law.¬† Back in college when I was pregnant with my oldest, one of my best friends started dating another guy in our circle and she never said anything about it.¬† I knew it was happening because I have eyes and I’m not an idiot.¬† It made me so uncomfortable that I could hardly stand being around her¬†but I didn’t have the emotional energy to confront her.¬† I know she didn’t say anything¬†because she thought it would be wrong to talk about her love life with someone whose life was such a wreck, but it destroyed the friendship utterly.¬† Don’t think that because what’s going on in your own life isn’t big and dramatic or life-altering it is somehow inappropriate to bring it up.¬† Just the opposite.¬†It is often a welcome respite from dark times.

8. If you really can’t be there to support someone in these softer, hands-on ways, do what you can.¬† My family went through a period where my husband was working out of town¬†and we only saw him every 3 weeks or so.¬† I had 3 kids and another on the way and my husband was trying desperately to find a new job, but nothing was working.¬† One of the women in my bible study who was probably the last person I would have called to talk to went shopping and got food for several easy meals for me and the kids.¬† It was perfect.¬† I come from a family that isn’t always very good with the emotional support, but sometimes someone will send a gift for me or the kids.¬† Or just a card or a note on a facebook wall.¬† Smoke signals and asking people who know the person how they are doing is a bit to long distance to do any good.¬† But there are many things that you can do which don’t require you to hug a crying person or listen to someone wax poetic about how great it would be if their ex got run over by a bus.¬† And they really do make a difference.

One last note of caution.¬† On several occasions, I have been the one to walk with a friend through a major life event like the death of a parent, a child with serious disabilities, crime victim, divorce, etc.¬† If it was not a close relationship before the crisis struck, be prepared that it may not last.¬† Without a history, sometimes the relationship is too unbalanced and the adjustment to a more normal way of relating may not work very well.¬† Or you can become too associated with a painful time and get left behind when the person reaches the point of being ready to move on.¬† Don’t take it personally.¬† You will have done a very great thing in the eyes of heaven.¬† God is close to the brokenhearted.¬† If you put yourself close to the brokenhearted as well, God does not fail to see.

So, there’s my down-n-dirty guide for how to be a friend to someone going through a terrible situation.¬† If anyone has other suggestions to add, I’m all ears.¬† Well, not really of course.¬† If I were all ears, how could I type?

The Emotional God

A couple of years ago, I was sitting on my front porch steps after dinner, watching my two oldest daughters playing and complaining to God in my head.¬† I don’t remember what it was (nothing too serious), but the qxh (quasi-ex-husband) had done something to chap my hide.¬† As I wound down my complaints and let the whole thing go, I asked God in an almost off-handed way, “do you ever have to¬†deal with people treating you like this?”¬† At which point I’m pretty sure all of heaven burst into hearty guffaws.¬† But¬†soon a funny thing started happening: as I dealt with people in my life, often some parallel experience between God and people would pop into my head.¬†

Sometimes it was something little, like calling someone who did not answer¬†their phone.¬† How often does God try to reach out to people who ignore or reject the call because they are too busy, inattentive or just don’t feel like it?¬†¬†I would ask one of my boys to load and run the dishwasher only to discover at dinnertime hours later that we had no clean¬†pots, plates or utensils.¬† Suppose God ever asks people to do things that don’t get done?¬†¬†Ocasionally, I would have to deal with someone who insisted on talking over me,¬†refused to listen to my perspective¬†or treat it with respect.¬† Yeah, I’m sure God never has to deal with stuff like that, right?

By the next summer a variety of calamities, traumas and disappointments had hit my family full force.¬† As the qxh¬†started to dissemble and then turn on me, these parallels became more pointed and poignant.¬† Loving someone who is being supremely difficult, unreasonable and hostile turns out to be something that God is intimately familiar with.¬† (more…)

You are not my friend – the list

The most devastating experience I ever had was losing pretty much every friend I had after I made the decision to raise my oldest son despite being unmarried.¬† I had friends that I loved with all my heart who cut off all contact with me and stop sharing anything about their own lives.¬† (I wrote a bit about how and why I made the decision I did here.¬† It’s a good story, I think. ) ¬† I was so devastated by this whole scale abandonment and rejection that it was at the root of a life-threatening bout of depression I had to seek treatment for some time later.¬† Oddly enough though, it was the fact that my “support system” had disappeared that shaped the rest of my life since.¬† See, my quasi-ex husband and my mother were the only people who would have anything to do with me.¬† And as my 4 additional children demonstrate, although I had no intention at all of getting back with him at the time, the fact that he was practically the only person who would have anything to do with me was a pretty compelling reason for me to take another look.¬† Really, I’m not that hard to please.¬† Just being willing to talk with me, be there when I’m upset and sharing your own ideas and life with me is all it takes to make me feel cared for.

Unfortunately, history does tend to repeat itself.¬† Now that I’m going through the worst time of my life since that summer over 16 years ago, once again my mother and this man who no one else can understand what I see in him are the only people who will have anything to do with me.¬† It’s not quite as devastating this time because I have my kids who think I’m the bees-knees and many of the “friends” who are awol now have always been pretty crappy friends.

Probably some of it is that I am an odd duck (ie not everyone’s cuppa tea), but this struggle with friends has been pretty constant in my life.¬† The other problem, no doubt, is that I am pretty non-demanding. Historically, if you decide to treat me like crap, I may not be willing to continue a relationship with you, but I’m probably not going to raise a huge fuss about it.¬† That has changed a lot over the years though.¬† Because I know first hand the damage that carrying this sort of rejection silently causes, there have been a handful of times when I have gone to someone and just said, “I have been hurt by your treatment of me.”¬† When I have done it, people have either simply not responded or tried to tell me that I shouldn’t be hurt.¬† It doesn’t do much for the relationship, but at least I know that I’ve handed someone else’s problem back to them rather than allow it to continue to be an open wound for me.

At this point, I have neither the emotional energy or the desire to try to go directly to pretty much everyone who knows me to have this conversation.¬† Frankly, I’m at the point of defriending everyone I know on facebook.¬† I’d also like to change my phone number so I can reason that my phone never rings because no one knows the number rather than because no one likes me.¬† I may or may not actually follow through on that, but I am going to put out there for anyone who cares to look, what not being a friend looks like from my vantage point.¬† So here’s m 10 signs that you are not my friend:

1. If you know that I’m going through a hard time and you can’t check in once or twice a month just to ask how I’m holding up, you are not a friend.

2. If you find my life so awful that you can’t bear to hear about it except maybe in passing, you are not my friend.

3. If you think that me making choices you don’t agree with (but try not to ask you to carry any burden for) makes me difficult or unpleasant to talk to, you are not my friend.

4. If the reality is that you would never speak to me again if I didn’t call you, you are not my friend.

5. If you never think to include me or my family in anything you do with other people/families, you are not my friend.

6. If you are always too busy to accept my or my family’s invitations and never offer an alternative, you are not my friend.

7. If you leaned on me while going through your own hard time (death of a parent, marriage problems, hard pregnancy, depression, long term unemployment) but disappeared once life got easier for you or harder for me, you are not my friend.

8. If you expect me to accept your very negative assessment of me and my choices over my own, you are not my friend.

9. If you never talk to me about your own life, your own problems, your own ideas, you are not my friend.¬† (And this goes quadruple for anyone who tries to justify it by saying that they don’t want to burden or bother me or some such ridiculous, completely asinine, bullshit laden horse hockey crap.¬† I feel kinda strongly about this one!)

10. If I have shared something personal, (like that my husband is in the hospital) or sought advice from you about a serious issue I’m in the middle of and you have not so much as made a phone call or dropped a note to see how things are, you are not my friend.¬† (And a pretty shitty human being to boot, imo.)

Now, for my exclusive cadre of loyal readers (I do have some :)!), here’s my question: what do you consider to be a pretty good sign that someone just isn’t a decent enough friend to be bothered with?¬† I would also be fascinated to hear from anyone who realized that they were not a very good friend.¬† What clued you in?¬† Do you behave differently now or do you just accept it as kinda the way you are?¬† (See #9 – I really do want to know!)


When Someone You Love is Making a Big Mistake

Sometimes someone you know is doing something that any idiot Рyourself included Рcan see is heading for disaster.  Most likely the person doing this knows that everyone thinks they are making a huge mistake.  (If they don’t, if you are any sort of friend you need to be brave enough to gently raise it with them.)  Once they know that others do not approve of their course of action, let it be.  Don’t bring it up or give your opinion unless you are asked directly.  No matter how right you are or how much you think the other person needs to be dissuaded from their course.  Leave it alone.

Here‚Äôs why: you may be correct, and if you are, your friend or neighbor or relative is going to need support when things fall apart.¬† If you have been a vocal critic, it will be very hard for them to turn to you when their time of need comes.¬† And being able to support someone who needs it is far more loving and important than being able to say, ‚ÄúI told you so.‚ÄĚ

On the other hand, you may be wrong.  Things may work out according to your friend, neighbor or relative’s wildest dreams.  In which case you will be remembered as foolish and shrill if you allowed yourself to harp on the issue.

Either way, there is nothing to be gained by trying to make someone see reason once they commit to their own chosen their own course.  But if you are willing to let the matter go and just walk alongside them, you will be there to share in the journey Рwhatever the outcome.

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