I have a friend who works for the same hospital in Mytown that I used to work for. We didn’t start out as friends. In fact, about two months after I started working there, she called me and laid into me: “I have NEVER had as many problems with your office as I now have with you! I have been here for over 13 years and you have only been here for two months!”
I must admit that I was taken aback by her biting words. Even though I felt like crying, I didn’t. I was determined to be nice to this lady. Over the next three years, whenever I would email her or call her, I would be as nice as possible to her. When I told her I was leaving for another job, she panicked. “I will miss you! You have inspired me to be a better person!” I must admit that I was taken aback by her complimentary words.
She and I got together for dinner about a month ago. When I emailed her to invite her to dinner, she was very grateful. At dinner, she told me, “I am not a very nice person. I was surprised when you emailed me.” I almost cried. I told her, “I can be a pain in the patooty sometimes, too – just ask my children!” I invited her to go to dinner next week with my best buddy whom I have known for over 15 years.
It takes a great deal of effort to be a good friend. When we commit to being someone’s friend, we commit to the seen and the unseen. We commit to them – past, present and future. That’s a very difficult thing to do. What if they have a bad, dangerous past? What if they are extremely needy right now? What if they do something really stupid in the future?
We all have something in our past that makes us vulnerable and maybe a bit dangerous. Your friend could be needy right now because of her past. All she may need is someone to talk to who will show some compassion. I can guarantee you that I will do something stupid in the future – never fails. So will you.
To be a friend we need to step outside of ourselves, to b-e willing to give our best when our friend is at their worse, and to be willing to give abundant grace to others (and ourselves!). My best buddy has done all of that for me. She knows my past, has seen me at my worst, has given me abundant grace and compassion and still wants to hang out with me.