When I was a teenager, I had a friend named Adam. He was an odd kinda guy who was a loner – but a good friend.
We hung out a lot, and our parents drove us to events and such frequently. But it was a conditional friendship. Over time, he started acting differently. He started wearing different clothes, and he would brush his hair straight up. I think he was trying to get attention, but now I started to become embarrassed to be seen with him.
As the weeks and months went by, I started avoiding Adam and spending more time with new friends who shared in my embarrassment about being around this guy. They made fun of him, and I regretfully participated. I felt bad, but I disregarded the feeling because I was starting to fit in with what appeared to be a more popular group. I figured he was in a weird place in life and probably needed time to himself, anyway.
As time went on, I increasingly spent time with my new friends and had pretty much abandoned Adam. To my surprise, one day he took me aside and told me I was his only friend, and now he had lost me, too. He knew that I had poked fun at him and he felt betrayed. I thought he was overreacting and I brushed him off by changing the subject.
Later, I felt guilty, but didn’t do anything about it. The school year was wrapping up and I was busy, so I figured I would make it right later. Besides, I had my new friends.
Little did I know that Adam had developed brain cancer and was very sick. The cancer and treatment was affecting his behavior and personality.
Another few months went by, and by that time I had no idea was was going on with Adam. School was ramping back up, and I knew we’d be seeing each other again soon. I felt guilty about how I had left things, and had built up the confidence to reach out and make things right. But this time, he was no where to be found. I wondered if they had moved and not told me.
Unfortunately, it was worse than that. Adam died over that summer and no one had told me. Talk about regret. I was so angry with myself. What had I done? Why didn’t I call? Why was I so worried about about what other people thought? Why was I willing to sacrifice a relationship so that I could fit into another one?
Adam died without a friend. I sacrificed my friendship with Adam to fit in with others. It was a selfish choice that I regret and live with, and it has ever shaped my perspective of how our actions have significant impact in the lives of those we interact with. I’ll never know if he forgave me.
We’ve all made choices in relationships that we regret. Some of those regrets can be made right, but for me, it was too late. It taught me the power of my choices.
The lesson I learned in all this was that people matter. Hearts matters. Friendships – no matter how odd – matter.
God has placed others in our path for a reason. Our job is to be a good steward with those relationships.
To be a multiplier and not a divider of people.
If I make the choice to love people like Jesus did, then the importance of fitting in becomes secondary. The priority becomes about them.
I’m sure some of your relationships are great, and some are OK, while others are odd or draining. How would your perspective about each of relationship in your life change if you viewed them from God’s eyes? How can you love them more today? How can you love them like Jesus?