I woke up this morning with some sadness weighing on my heart, and heavy thoughts in my mind.
Mind if I talk about it?
Yesterday, someone I hadn’t talked to for quite a while came to mind. I asked my wife if she had heard from him lately, and she said no; with that, I made a note to check in with him later that night. I wanted to send him a late “Merry Christmas” and a “Happy New Year” on Facebook. I also wanted to see how he was doing, his church, family, etc… Late last night, I got on Facebook to check in, and after I searched his name, was taken aback by what I discovered.
He unfriended me.
I was shocked. I asked my wife to look him up in her Facebook account, and she’d also been unfriended. We’d also been removed from the private group that he ran.
Actions like this (refusing to contact an individual and work it out) can be a trigger for me. In the past, I talked to him about all of those “friends” who turned their backs on me when I left the United Pentecostal Church (UPCI). I’m surprised that he would do the exact same thing he criticized them for doing.
I was a minister in the UPCI, and leaving that organization was a horrible experience. One of the biggest obstacles was how so many friends and family I knew and loved just easily and quickly turned their backs on me. Unless you experience something like this, it’s difficult to understand.
Here is a question: how do people just all of sudden decide they don’t want to talk to you anymore, or want to be in your presence, and don’t want you in their lives? (Especially ministers that you’ve opened up to.)
When those UPCI people left, he was there. He talked to me, and helped me out. He gave me some good advice that actually HELPED me understand and get through that dark period of life. I’ll never forget these statements he gave me, and as a matter of fact, I have repeated them often while trying to help others.
“Not everyone who fights in the trenches with you is your friend.”
“There is a difference between being friendly, and being friends.”
The sad reality is that while I strive to be a friend, a lot of people only strive to be friendly. I learned the hard way how those are two very different things.
I know firsthand how difficult it is being a minister. Few will admit it, but ministers live wearing more masks than many of the people hearing their preaching. One mask is trying to please God, another is trying to please our friends, then family, the church, critics, the lost, etc… A minister is trying to balance all of that on a tight rope that really doesn’t exist. In fact, there are days were it would seem like walking on water would be a lot easier than trying to have a balanced relationship with everyone!
While many believers live trying to balance it all, often they fail. It happens to us all. At times, it all just becomes so very convoluted. When that happens, we often just start pushing people away.
You don’t have to push away the people who love, respect, cherish, listen, challenge, debate, and disagree with you. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect. I tell myself this every day.