There’s One In Every Group

Have you seen the Southwest Airlines commercial about the solidarity in a group when one member, Fenwick, faces pending attack and probable death?

 

As men in the group stand up for him with the bold statements of “I am Fenwick,” I want to stand up and cheer: “Yes! Stand up for each other! Band together!” And then, another man in the group ruins it all.

There’s one in every group.

I’m a “group” person. I coordinate small groups at church, and I encourage people to build healthy friendships. I know the value of finding people who will stand up with you (and also be honest with you when it’s time to sit down or move on).

But groups are messy. Relationships are messy. Over and over again, I see people shy away from groups because they don’t want the mess. They usually state other reasons; often they claim to be too busy. But when I have a conversation and listen to past experiences and concerns, whether they can admit it in words or not, they are apprehensive. They don’t want to be annoyed, inconvenienced, or vulnerable.

Life is messy enough. Why open ourselves up to people who are immature and messy?

We’re immature and messy, too. By someone’s standards. We might not see it, but each of us can be annoying. But we’re also worth the risk. We’re in need of others, whether we want to be in need or not. Connections help us grow. They also challenge us. In fact, being challenged through our connections is often what spurs us to grow. That means it’s sometimes the connections with people who seem very different from us that impact our lives the most.

We might claim to be Fenwick when we feel a strong connection with others, but we also speak out in bad timing, stay silent in bad timing, and become “that one” among others. Be patient, gracious, and available.

Mourning the Before

logo_-_copieWe often mourn the before: before the betrayal, move, diagnosis, death, election, etc.

We look back at a preferred time and situation.

I get it.

And while mourning the before might be beneficial and even necessary for a season, it can become counterproductive, even creating distortion and confusion, in the long run. We can make the before something that it wasn’t, and compare it to the flaws of now, creating discontent.

We can fondly recall the past, but if we try to go back to it, we will fail every single time. We can only learn from it and move into the future with the lessons, examples, healing, and experiences.

We can mourn the before but live in the after.

When Friends Betray

communication-73331Now it is not an enemy who insults me—otherwise I could bear it; it is not a foe who rises up against me—otherwise I could hide from him. But it is you, a man who is my peer, my companion and good friend! We used to have close fellowship; we walked with the crowd into the house of God. (Psalm 55:12-14)

The distance between people who have never been close rarely feels as far as cracks and chasms that grow between people once close to each other. The latter might be minute in comparison to the former, but it can feel overwhelming, isolating, and painful.

When distance grows, we feel betrayed. Not always, but it’s strongly possible we’ve had something to do with the betrayal (and distance). Even our reactions can influence the crack-soon-to-be-chasm. We can’t change what someone else does, but we can certainly choose how to respond to it.

When friends betray us, we don’t have to betray them. It might be wise to keep our distance, but we can choose respect, forgiveness, and compassion, even if it’s in our attitudes and conversations that have nothing to do with direct communication with them.

When friends betray us, we don’t have to betray them. It’s easier to build a bridge over a crack than a chasm.