Many moons ago, I worked with a gal who didn't have many friends in the office. I will call her Teresa. Teresa was hard to miss and not because she weighed almost 300 pounds. She was boisterous and awkwardly cheerful. I noticed attributes that could easily be overlooked by her more dimensional characteristics, so I decided to befriend her.
Teresa immediately responded to my invitation. She began to excessively praise me, give me homemade gifts, and make an open display of our friendship. (This is usually where the red flag begins to climb the pole.) Was this embarrassing? A little. It did, however, make me even more aware of how much she needed people to love her.
I wasn't entering this relationship blindly. I recognized her fragmentation and need for healing. Heather Pryor once said, "A true friend reaches for your hand and touches your heart." I was hoping the salve of friendship would affirm her.
Teresa and I were dining out one day and her demeanor had become serious. At one point she reached into her purse and handed me a folded piece of paper. She watched intently as I opened it...
Let me pause here to say that experiences like these are surreal. First, there is the element of surprise — even shock — and then the almost slow-motion displacement of a bomb exploding. This is where Hollywood inserts the emotional soundtrack and filmed flashbacks of the history tied to this moment.
So, there I was staring at a carefully composed list of everything Teresa felt was wrong with me. It was all on paper. It even highlighted the time that I was in her neighborhood and had knocked on her door to say hello. There were no cell phones then and I had not intended to stay. Her issue was that I had not called first.
I remember having an epiphany while sitting on my side of the table. Although most of the items listed stemmed from her dysfunction and struggle to love herself, and there were other things that I had never done with the motivation she had attached to it, I realized that true friends are usually so focused on who we are, that they don't have much time for who we aren't.
When I decide to be someone's friend, I am willing to take the whole package. I party with who they are and allow love to cover the rest
If anything, a friend is there to strengthen weakness: to fill in the blanks. I cherish that about my true friends. Frankly, I am more complete because of them
I would happily disclose the areas under construction in my life. Gladly, I have discovered that my flaws won't prevent true friendship from staying the course.
1 Peter 4:7-11 (The Message Bible)
7-11 Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God's words; if help, let it be God's hearty help. That way, God's bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and he'll get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes!