The Wisdom of Honest Relationships

Today’s Coffee of Choice: Freshly Ground Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend

Today’s Scripture: One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. – Proverbs 18:24

A new Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through just opened a few minutes from my house. I happen to love their coffee, so it’s a great place to pick up goodies for those who drop by to visit me. (The down side of that is I often have leftover donuts to ward off temptation from while attempting to maintain a strict diet and workout schedule.) I’ll be the first to admit I have a thing for their coffee too, but my overall love of coffee happens to revolve around the magical moments of conversation and silence surrounding a cup shared with a good friend. I value relationships, and I appreciate honest, committed individuals who take the time to share their thoughts and heart with me.

We live in a world where honest relationships and friendships are an endangered species. Some of us are blessed to have close friends we can discuss anything with. Others, though perhaps surrounded by many people, feel the darkness of loneliness on a regular basis. BostonIn times when we are faced with acts of evil we might not understand, such as the bombing in Boston yesterday, honest relationships are vital. We need each other as we walk through life. We need to be faithful and committed friends to those who face trials. We cannot run away from each other when circumstances are hard. As so many close to the scene at the Boston Marathon yesterday demonstrated, we must run toward each other when we need help.

The longer I’ve been a Christian, the more wary I’ve become of individuals who want to monopolize others’ time and talents for their own gain. Unfortunately, I know there will be some who will try to take advantage of the tragic stream of violent acts which seem to be on the upswing in the States. I’d like to attempt to help you as you navigate the waters of new relationships during this volatile time. Here are three warning signs to look for when determining who you should invest your time, talents, and treasures in:

1. Does the individual monopolize the conversation when you are with them? Do they perk up at your comments if money or someone in a position of major influence you happen to know are mentioned?
If this is the case, it’s probably not a good idea to invest more time in the relationship. The individual in question is not obviously not interested in who you are as a person, and they will probably write you off once they have exhausted your resources.

2. Does the person or organization ignore phone calls, emails, and conversation from you that does not benefit their cause?
Though this is not always a warning sign (leaders and those who work for organizations are often busy people), if there is a lack of communication from an individual except when they want something from you over a period of six months to a year, I would advise reconsidering whether this is a cause you want to help. Either their motives are selfish or they have a problem with overcommitment and time management. Both are red flags that there might be some bigger issues down the road.

3. If you’re in a crowded room with the individual and you make eye contact or say “hi” while they’re in earshot, do they ignore you and not make an effort to follow-up afterward?
This is a sign that: 1. They are a very rude individual; 2. There is an underlying problem in their relationship with you they don’t want to address. Both of these issues lend themselves to reconsidering if this is someone who you want to invest time in. If the individual is part of a larger organization where you are treated with respect otherwise, I would say it’s more of a personal problem. If this is the case, you should address the issue one-on-one with them. If this doesn’t work, find someone who will help you mediate a conversation with them in an effective manner.

For the record, I haven’t been perfect in the way I’ve treated people over the years. I also haven’t been perfect in pinpointing healthy relationships and friendships. I’m trying to get better, and I hope you will make honest, open relationships a priority with me in a time when we all so desperately need each other. In my case, there are two things which have helped me the most over the years: 1. My close friendship with Christ; 2. A healthy prayer life. I recommend both to you while you navigate the waters of life.

Please share your perspective on this topic. Your thoughts are valuable.

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2 thoughts on “The Wisdom of Honest Relationships

  1. I feel the same way that you mentioned in this blog today. There have been one person that has tried to monopoloze my time and our conversations. She can also be very negative so I have had to distance myself from her. I continue to pray for her and her family, but I leave it at that.

    • Jeanie-

      I’m a huge fan of grace, so I believe in giving people the benefit of the doubt as much as possible when I deal with them. I’ve also learned there are some I’m not (for lack of a better way to say this) meant to be a “minister of encouragement” to. These individuals are different than the ones I’ve referenced in this blog who have a wrong agenda that might get worse in the longterm. These latter individuals can be difficult to discern sometimes, so I hope my advice (based on what I’ve learned along the way) helps pinpoint relationships where there should be some distance from the beginning. (I’m still learning.) It’s always good to talk to people who have known the person for longer than you have to see if the problem is one many people have experienced, or if it’s just limited to your relationship with them.

      I also believe that healthy boundaries are a must if there is a relationship that is draining but not necessarily unhealthy. Prayer is vital in these situations, but I would also ask God if He wants you to stay loosely connected with the person. I’ve had people I’ve distanced myself from and prayed for during a season come back and work alongside me several years later. When this has happened, we have both changed enough to work together. It’s been a beautiful thing! 🙂 This doesn’t always happen, but prayer and a willingness to extend the kind of grace and mercy Christ demonstrates to us can be an amazing combination! I will pray for you about this particular situation.

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