Relationships take effort and time to develop.
To meet someone on the street, snap your fingers, and learn everything about them doesn’t exist.. Who knows maybe Apple will come out with that in their next IPhone, but right now there isn’t an App for that.
In order for a relationship to develop it takes time and over the course of that time we gain a better understanding for one another. We get to see things such as character, likes and dislikes, attitudes, decision-making, and the type of spiritual life they pursue.
All of these lead us to a decision about our relationship with them.
Sometimes an increased understanding causes us to drift apart. As more light is shed on their life they are not who you thought they were so you begin to distance yourself. You don’t necessarily dislike them, but you feel this isn’t a healthy relationship for you to continue.
On the other hand, there are times when you genuinely like what you see in a person. The more you see the more you trust, respect, like, and want to be around them. You allow the relationship to become a friendship and begin to live life together.
Now understand, I’m not referring to marriage when I say these things. In marriage we have established a covenant between that person and God to live and love each other until death parts us. If we start to see relational quirks within a marriage it doesn’t give us a hall pass to jump ship and find another spouse.
What I’m talking about is a general friendship with someone. The opportunity to meet someone new and potentially live life beyond the stale “How are you doing?” handshake when you see them.
But at some point there may be a time in even the best of relationships that some friction arises. Sadly sometimes the cause is not by them directly but through other people’s words. Maybe you heard someone say something about them that seemed odd. Maybe you think they did something, but your not sure. Maybe their name somehow is swirling in the cesspool of gossip and it startles you. Any number of things could cause this friction to arise in your mind and at that point you are faced with two options:
1. Do I assume the best in the person?
Choosing this way of thinking says I trust the person’s character and give them the benefit of the doubt as to why this may have happened? I may even dismiss what I’m hearing because of the mountains of experiences I’ve had with them that have proved otherwise. Since I’ve taken the time to know and respect them I choose to believe them over the rumor until I have a chance to talk to them. I don’t cast a judgment on a person who I respect and call a friend.
2. Do I assume the worst in the person?
In this case, I assume the worst possible outcome for what I’ve heard. I will quickly throwaway our past experiences and focus only on the issue at hand. I don’t allow past behavior or my time with them to cloud my judgment because I can rule on this without past history. Sadly this approach often leads to a premature guilty verdict before we even talk to the person.
I know I’ve experienced the sting of the second option often in my life and I’m guessing you have too. You have went through hills and valleys with people and felt like you reached a place of genuine love and respect for them only to be blindsided by a false accusation. They chose to assume the worst about you before even talking to you. Now the relationship is frayed and fragmented because of a wrong attitude.
These can be some of the most painful times in life I’ve found. In leadership you are given a higher degree of responsibility and finer microscope. As a result you find yourself in the open and vulnerable. You have fewer true relationships and friendships so when someone close to you chooses to assume the worst over the best it causes you to sit back and ask, “Wow, who can I really trust?” A heavy loneliness falls over you that can be tough to wrestle.
Now don’t get too worried (if you are at all 🙂 ) I’m doing fine. I don’t have an earthshattering example in my life right now to relate this too, but I have been there in those lonely places.
However, I’m reminded and I’d remind you too that we are not defined by what other’s think of us but rather what God thinks of us. I know He calls me son so I’m doing just fine.
However the times that keep me going are when those true friends choose me over the rumor. It doesn’t necessarily make the rumor or the accusation any less frustrating, but just having someone have my back feels good. That relationship is even stronger than before because I’ve gained a new respect for them and that is something that can’t be microwaved.
My encouragement to you is to always assume the best in relationships. They take a long time to develop but they can be quickly torn down with the wrong assumption. Take the time to love someone enough to go to them first before passing judgment and believe the best in them.