MaryBeth Eberhard ponders the need to acknowledge that, while we need to be kind to everyone, we're not meant to be everyone's best friend.
I sat in the café the other day watching a group of women share an animated conversation. They laughed and a couple more women sat and joined the conversation. I sat at my table, working on an article, and wondering why I never felt included in this particular group, why an invitation did not come my way. As I saw my thoughts begin to slope toward the negative and judgmental, I stopped myself and prayed for the Lord to flood this moment with charity. Have you ever found yourself in this situation, wondering why you might not be included and turning it into a negative about yourself?
I turned the tables on myself a bit and asked if there had ever been a time when I didn’t feel a connection with someone though it was clear they did with me? Perhaps they initiated conversation with me, and I politely listened but didn’t invite them over for tea. Perhaps our kids are in the same sport, and we smile and say hello, but I sit on a different bench once we’ve said our greetings.
It would be easy to think one of us suffers from bad manners, is rude or just does not like the other. What if we were a little easier on each other and allowed ourselves to be human; to recognize that there will be those we connect with instantly and those for some reason or another, do not mesh with where we are in life right now? We can choose to respond with charity and kindness but have boundaries on our time and energy. There is no commandment that says, "Though shall love everyone and fill everyone’s cup till it runneth over."
What if we realized that there are people we don’t click with? Intrinsically we recognize it but what if we examined it more purposefully and were intentional in how we dealt with it. We should give each other the same grace we would want given to us when we make the conscious choice to not initiate a relationship with someone. We still must maintain the virtue that is indicative of being a Christ follower, modeling kindness, charity, and compassion. However, I am learning that it is truly okay to meet someone and decide that it is not a match, and it is also okay to not be that match to someone else. I wish I had learned these lessons when I was younger. I am grateful I can share them with my children now as I am learning them. Thank you, Jesus.
Self-doubt and negativity are a breeding ground for Satan to take root in relationships. We must safeguard our souls against worries and doubts that are not grounded in anything but wounds and misgivings we carry. Instead, let us work towards initiating authentic and vulnerable relationships with those we call a friend close enough to be called a sister or a brother. Let us be wise and know our limitations. Let us give each other and ourselves charity and humility in forming friendships and take only the wise and good from the discernment of each friendship.
Saint Francis de Sales reminds us:
Love your neighbor, Dear reader, with a great, charitable love, but befriend only those with whom you can be mutually supportive in virtue. The higher the virtues that you put into these relationships, the more perfect will your friendship be.
There is wisdom in discerning friendships. It is okay to not be included even if we see the person's value and would love to walk with them. In truth, we are all brothers and sisters, and our paths will unite with the angels in heaven as we praise God together. There is such grace and beauty when we hold that to be true.
Copyright 2023 MaryBeth Eberhard
About the Author
MaryBeth Eberhard spends most of her time laughing as she and her husband parent and school their eight children. She has both a biological son and an adopted daughter who have a rare neuromuscular condition called arthrogryposis and writes frequently about the life experiences of a large family and special needs. Read more of her work at MaryBethEberhard.com.