I have two questions for you.
1) Have you ever misjudged someone, only to find out after getting to know them that you actually like them and friendship with them are totally acceptable? I have.
2) Have you ever been misjudged by someone, only to find out later that they changed their opinion after getting to know you and want to be your friend? I have.
For the former, it happened like this. There was an older minister that I had known of for many years and observed his ministry. I had judged him as someone with whom I had little in common. It’s not that we didn’t like each other or had anything against each other. We were sociable and even shared many niceties for years. You could even say we shared a brotherly love. But then it happened. Life landed us in the same place on a few occasions for extended periods of time. After lengthy conversations resulted in us getting to know each other, I had a definite change of heart. I realized that this individual was not the man I had perceived him to be. For too many years, I thought he was someone that I would never really like or whose company I would never be able to enjoy. Wow, was I ever wrong! We shared many of the same perspectives and I didn’t even know it until I took the time to get to know him. He’s still a friend of mine today.
So I wonder, how many other friends have I missed having because of similar reasoning and my misjudging them?
The latter has happened to me as well. How do I know? Well, because an individual once told me. Let me answer that second question and explain how it happened. There was an older Christian man that had some relatives within my pastorate. We knew each other and would always speak in a kind and gracious manner to each other. But then it happened. Life landed us in the same place on a few occasions for extended periods of time. Because of circumstances, we were forced to rub personalities with each other. And then it hit him like a warm breeze. He explained it to me with a sheepish grin of a smile and an apology. It’s not that he owed me an apology. He had done me no wrong as far as I knew. But he felt that he had. He said, “you know, I have misjudged you and I’m sorry. I thought you were somebody else. But now that I have been able to spend some time with you and get to know you, I now know better. I like you and I want to be your friend.” I know, I know – it sounds a bit cheesy, but that’s how it happened. And to this day, we are still friends.
I continue to wonder, how many friends have I missed having because they misjudged me and never took the time to get to know me?
Why is it that we make up our minds so quickly about one another? How many friendships never develop, simply because we judge each other wrongly or prematurely? In romantic relationships, there is the theory that some espouse called, love at first sight. If that ever happens in the realm of friendships, then surely it must be a rare experience.
Let this be a gentle caution to your soul. There are many people with whom you could be friends if you simply took the time to get to know them. However, you’ll need to risk being yourself and allow others to get to know your heart.
As well, don’t write someone off forever that you couldn’t click with during a previous season of life. Some people change. As a matter of life, we all do. Many people change for the better. I’m sure you have. Read this again. Some people change.
What about that friendship you ended years ago over something you thought you could never forgive? Forgive them, my friend. Life is too short for you to hold onto the unclaimed baggage of unforgiveness. Talk through the matter with that person, forgive, forget, and give that relationship another opportunity. It will probably become a stronger friendship because of what you’ve been through together. Isn’t that what you would want someone to do for you? Christian, isn’t that what God continues to do for you, each time you hurt Him? “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).
Friends. Do you have enough? I don’t. I’m looking to make more friends, build deeper friendships, and be a better friend than I ever have. “A man who has friends must himself be friendly…” (Proverbs 18:24).
Friends. I hope you have plenty. But do you still have room for One more? There is a Friend that will stick closer to you than any brother could. He wants to be your friend. Jesus Christ died for your sins, conquered death, and rose with power from the grave so that He could be your best friend forever. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). He is the only friend you will ever have that will never forsake you and will never do you wrong.
Interpersonal relationships are difficult and filled with hazards. Go for golden friendships and seek them in spite of the perils. Love others in spite of their faults and risk being hurt. It’s what horizontal relationships are all about.
Friendship. What else should everyone know about friendships?
Perhaps the next time I broach this subject, I’ll tell you about my friends and the different kinds of friends life has to offer for each season. For now, though, please be a friend and share this with others. Also, I’d like to hear your answers to those first two questions. Give them a friendly answer.
~ your friendly neighborhood blogger-man