Dabar [theme]

He shall cover thee with His feathers, and under His wings shalt thou find refuge: His truth is a shield and buckler
Psalms 91:4

Be it ours,when we cannot see the face of God, to trust under the shadow of His wings. C.H. Spugeon

Saturday, February 02, 2013

It is a Shame

There has been a perceived loss in the quantity and quality in the friendships over the years as reported in a variety of studies.
This is what I deem to be part and parcel of the many life changes many are experiencing.
I personally, have had friends move away, die, divorce, change jobs, drop out of social groups I am affiliated with, etc.
These variables plus the addition of children, job demands and depleted energy reserves have caused many to disengage from friends as well. It seems to be a part of life ...now.

'It is a shame' is the caption because certain aspects of the lives I have observed with regard to friendships are a result of shame or at least shameful behaviour. Notwithstanding it is a shame when what God has as a blueprint for the success of men, emotionally, physically, spiritually and mentally is thwarted by the very culture men create to provide for their emotional, physical, spiritual, mental health and well-being.

Divorce, separation and affairs are significant quantitative values when discussing the demise of friendships in our culture.
Gossiping and political behaviour are as well strong values when discussing friendships and how men relate to one-another in social and work-place settings.
Then lastly and more poignant is the issue of homophobia. Although I understand how this can be construed as an effective deterrent to male relationships, I cannot make the mental acceptance of this as viable in my life nor the life of any men I know.  

Divorce, separation and affairs absolutely destroy a family unit and as well damage the social network of spouses. 'Friends' are divided and forced to pick sides, hence one party is ostracized and isolated from former friends and forced to make their way alone, or until new fiends are made. There is no shame in that, it is in the initial actions that shame is formed. We desire to 'save face' and appear as something we may not be. I have personally seen this happen in a divorce case, where the wife had carefully documented over a number of years the many circumstances leading to their divorce. As a note the former husband was floored by the depth of the recorded events brought to light in a courtroom. It is a shame ...

Gossiping and political behaviour in the work-place and in almost all corporate entities is a huge detriment to the formation of friendships. I find it very disconcerting having dealt with those who believe that having power to make decisions is the ultimate goal in belonging to an organization. Resignation to the fact of political behaviour dominating the work and corporate environment is tantamount to playing into the hands of those who wish to wield power at the expense of friendship and accommodating social interaction. Engaging in the behaviour however results in an undermining of our Christian view to relationships. The premise of 'turning the other cheek' is difficult when you are being slapped down to the detriment of your career and hardshiops may be incurred as a result of an seemingly apathetic attitude. It is then perceived as weakness when you won't engage in conflict. Assertiveness is not sinful, vindictiveness is another isue. It would be easy to just distance oneself from those organizations and cease involvement in them as a result of observed and felt political behaviour. People who are willing to throw any one 'under the bus' as a means of enhancing perceived opinions of themselves or diminishing the affective leadership qualities of those whom they have attacked is an affront and I would deem it as a sin. It is a shame ...

Let us not forget the slander and malicious intent of those who use the Internet to bully and affect public opinion of the innocent and sway opinion in their favour or cast aspersions upon the quality and integrity of others.

Micah 7: 5 & 6b, "Do not trust a friend; Do not put confidence in a companion; Guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. ... A man's enemies are the men of his own household."

How pregnant is that thought when visited upon today's generation.

We see friends committing atrocities against 'friends' because of peer pressure, misunderstanding and for the most part what could be very simply not being a friend. The vulnerability associated with disclosure, intimacy and openness is betrayed when said confidences are exposed to public ridicule or used for personal leverage. It would appear that for the most part people are merely hedging their future by collecting information which could be used to exploit or demean their 'friend'. In this day and age it seems more appropriate that the word 'friend' ends in 'end', seemingly to express a finality and a harbinger of the future of the relationship.

Friendship is a relationship of trust without regard for personal gain nor any intent or attitude of elevating oneself at the expense of said friend. In this context 'friend' should not end in 'end', but in 'ever'.

Openness in friendship should be seen as an enlargement of the self; Aristotle wrote, "The excellent person is related to his friend in the same way as he is related to himself, since a friend is another self; and therefore, just as his own being is choice-worthy, the friend's being is choice-worthy for him in the same or a similar way. "

I find that to be the essence of friendship. A wise Pastor once stated, 'you are the friend to others you want them to be to you'. In other words, what you extend to a friend will be reciprocated. When you invest, a return investment should be forthcoming. It is back to the principle 'do unto ... as you would have.'
Proverbs 27:17, As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend."
Investment of time will result in a deepening of a friendship, you cannot spend time with someone without something of their character and personality 'rubbing off' on you.
Ecclesiastes 4:9a, "Two are better than one, ..."
There is a betterment to life with the benefit of mutually shared companionship.
In the same vein,  Corinthians 15:33 says "Do not be deceived: 'Evil company corrupts good habits.'
Irregardless, it is a fact that friends influence. Friends are a force in our lives.

It is a wise choice to have friends. It is important for emotional stability, being accountable for our thought process maintains an even keel with regards to life's quandaries, solutions to problems and the importance of sharing our burdens.
It is not 'good' that a man is alone, a man's intelligence, his character and habits are constrained or edified by conversations with friends, each alike adds and exhorts to remain or to change. Such is the message we are to share with one another. It is 'good' to have a friend. "... for if they fall, one will lift up his companion."
What I have come to understand is that God is bigger than all the aforementioned issues regarding friendship. Faith must have its work in the life of friendships and social and organizational networks.
Like Micah and Habakkuk I will look to the Lord ...I will wait ... I will rejoice ... I will have joy ...
for God is my salvation ... and my strength ... He will hear me ... He will guide my steps ... He is my hope.

It is difficult to 'let go and let God' in any and all aspects of life. I have been both disillusioned and encouraged with friendships both within the corporate workplace and within the Church and Parachurch. I believe this is not uncommon to all men. The difference is in the response.  How will I react?, defend? and/or act? to what is perceived by myself with regard to friends. 

I have been forced to evaluate my faith, my personality traits, my attitude and my ego. Although all of my actions and attitudes towards friends and Church may not be above reproach, I am at peace.
My faith has led me to believe that in all things God has all authority and with or without me or those who have agendas of their own, God's will will reign supreme.
The friendships which have remained and are sustained are with those who love me for who I am not because of any other quality. Of course this is reciprocal.
My personality traits, attitude and ego are fluid. Somethings which are entrenched are harder to accept or change than others. Understanding is paramount to healing. To borrow a quote I heard, 'you can't heal what you won't feel'.

Isaiah 26:12, "Lord, You will establish peace for (me), for You have also done all (my) works in (me)."

No comments: