Becoming self-less? It’s a lot harder than it sounds. I’ve been learning my lesson the hard way over the past two years and I have plenty of bumps and bruises to prove it. I’ve been so closed to ending a 20 year friendship over selfishness it has taken me awhile to openly admit it. The bible charges me to be “…sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing (I Peter 3: 9-10).”
While I truly desire to be a woman after God’s own heart, I found it hard not to be in my feelings…..not to be selfish.
It all started about 2 years ago from out of nowhere, I guess that is how God works…when you least expect it. And, I truly feel blessed that these emotions and flaws were brought to my attention because “for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines (Hebrew 12:6).” But don’t we all think we are perfect….yeah…NO!!
Well, as usual, I called my friend Karen to just chat about our next girl’s night out when she quickly hurried me off the phone. She said she had a meeting to attend in an hour and she needed to prepare. Well, less than 30 minutes later she called me to rant about the recent behavior of her daughter. Karen went on for an hour. Yep….I was at work and Yep…I wondered about the meeting she told me she had to attend! But, I couldn’t end the call when she needed someone to help her process her emotions.
A few months later, on my birthday, while I received numerous text messages and phone calls from friends and family to wish me a happy birthday, I didn’t hear from my best friend until later in the afternoon at which time she called to let me know that “she heard” I did not receive the promotion in which I requested.” She later sent me a cold two word text message to say “happy birthday.”
This didn’t get better…it got worse. She no longer wanted to have girl’s night out, she seemed irritated or hurried when our conversations were about anything other than her family, her career or her vacations. For the life of me I couldn’t understand what had gotten into Karen.
For the better part of a year I made excuses for Karen’s behavior…her daughter is becoming a young adult, her husband is away a lot on travel, she just joined senior management team, etc. The excuses went on and on. It wasn’t until I FINALLY finished my graduate studies that the emotions came sweltering up and I couldn’t contain myself.
Both Karen and I started a family and a career after undergraduate school. We found it challenging to find the time to return to school for graduate studies. However, in 2010 I found the perfect opportunity to go back to school and was more than excited to be finishing in 2012.
The closer we got to my graduation I expected Karen to be just as excited as me….that was not the case. She barely wanted to attend the ceremony and I found myself hosting my own graduation party. Anytime she found me planning for the party she wanted to know “wasn’t there better things I could do with my money.”
But here’s the kicker, Karen finishes her graduate studies this year and she wants to know where and when I will be hosting her graduation party. She has already informed me that she has a couple of co-workers, neighbors and family that she wants to attend her ceremony so I may not be able to attend.
You’re probably wondering if I had discussed this matter with Karen and I had….on multiple occasions. Her response was that I’m “selfish.” I was so taken aback by the audacity of that response I was at a loss for words. I must admit that I have emotional needs as well and for the past 20 years, Karen has been my primary source of emotional connectivity. I thank God for my husband, children, brothers and sisters but we all need that best friend. Don’t we?
So, over the past 6 months, I’ve been wrapping my mind around letting go of a 20 year friendship. The thought crushed me but what was I to do. I thank God for wisdom from the Holy Spirit. Shortly after thinking of ending our friendship, I received a word in my heart that my existence here is to bless others and if there is any unmet needs in my life that I should take it to the Lord to fulfill. Perhaps, I was relying too much on Karen as an emotional crutch and for emotional guidance and not enough on God. I am supposed to seek Him in all things but I had not. I was being selfish (and yes Karen is too!). But, I do not have to answer for Karen. I have to answer for myself.
The Word says:
“Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing. For, whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (I Peter 3: 9-12).”
“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5: 16)”
“Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives (I Peter 3: 1-2).”
I know in my own strength, it will be nearly impossible for me to just, as I see it, be used by Karen. I stay in prayer over this issue. I believe God has a blessing for me once I overcome this selfishness inside of me and learn how to be more Christ-like. The reward is greater if I endure and overcome!
Stay tuned…I’m sure there will be many nights of heart ache and pain as I learn how to be selfless.