I’m a little tardy to the party on the whole “season of thanks” thing, but I guess that it means a little more to me to talk about the things I’m thankful for when it’s not the hot, hip-happening thing in the streets. Call me anti-establishment.
I’ve actually been reflecting on the things that I’m thankful for a lot this past week, but I kept coming back to one particular thing: I’m thankful for friends who wounded me.
Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.
I’m not trying to do a Bible study or anything, but this verse is wisdom. Pretty much, what it’s saying is that it is better for your real friends to wound you than to be pumped up by people who don’t really give a crap about you.
What I’ve come to realize is that your true friends will call you on your bull crap and encourage you to do better. Being called on your bull makes you a better person, even if it means hurt feelings in the moment.
I’ve had my share of wounds from friends over the years. Some wounds were deserved as it was the fruit of my own stupid actions. Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy. Other wounds were simply the result of others projecting their issues on to me. To be clear, I’m thankful for the wounds that were deserved and not the ones earned from people dumping their junk on me.
I can see now that the wounds that I deserved in the past have prevented me from being a sucky person today. Had friends [one friend in particular who I’m not sure if they read this blog or not] not cared about me and had the gumption to speak up after I did things that sucked, I would still be a sucky person doing sucky things totally oblivious to how much I sucked.
Of course, it never feels good to be wounded, but sometimes our wounds serve a greater purpose. Think about the scar left over from major surgery. The recovery isn’t fun, the incision site scars, but going through a season of discomfort and recovery is better than not getting the surgery you need at all.
Being told about yourself doesn’t feel good either. It’s hard for most people to hear negative things about themselves and people usually become defensive when you do so. We know our own motives and what we intend when we act a certain way, but others don’t. That’s where misunderstanding arises.
A lot of conflict and wounding arose for me because of simple misunderstandings. I said or did something and someone took an unintended meaning or motive from it. I, in turn, had to clarify and re-communicate my intentions.
Some of the conversations that were birthed from that particular type of conflict (and several others) left me feeling wounded and misunderstood, but they motivated me to try to become a better person.
I’m thankful many years later for the hard talks that I was subjected to; it laid the foundation for me to become a better person. I would be annoying at best, but more likely a generally awful person to be around had people who cared about me not had the gumption to speak up and call me on things.
The take home message is twofold:
1) Listen carefully to the feedback you get from your friends and receive it in the spirit in which it is given. If it was given out of a kind and gracious spirit, receive the correction and work to do better. If it was given out if a critical and demeaning heart, then search for the grain of truth and throw out the rest.
2) Don’t be afraid to speak up if your friends are being awful people, but also also make sure that you’re speaking in love and kindness and not to teach your friend a lesson or put him/her in their place. People are more receptive to what you have to say if they don’t feel that they’re being attacked.
Help your friends become better people. Let your friends make you into a better person.