Tuesday, March 5, 2013

How Much of an Opinion Should We Have in Our Friend's Lives?

I was talking with a friend the other day and we were discussing opinions that other people have on choices we make, especially friends. And it really got me to thinking about me, and how I am about judgement on other's lives, especially my close friends.
I think there is a thin line between judging another person's choices and looking out for their well-being. When you have been friends with someone for a long time, and have been with them through several years of heartbreak, struggles, obstacles, pitfalls and mistakes, it's very easy to notice the things they do and see a bad choice before it even comes. You see their weaknesses, for example, bad relationships. While you see a red flag, they see someone they love, and you know what's coming. And all you want to do is keep them from getting hurt, getting heartbroken, or worse.
Do you give your opinion? Do you keep your mouth shut? Do you talk to your other friends about it behind their back about what a mistake this is but then to their face, give your blessing? It's a slippery slope. But isn't this the same situation in many other relationships? Marriage, friendships, children. You always have to be aware of what you say and who you say it to, and how your opinions come off to other people. All of us are coming at situations from a different history and a different place in life. So it's so frustrating, at times, to be a friend because your friends aren't always going to make the same choices you would make. Despite how right or wrong you personally think those choices are, it's not your life and it's not your choice. That is a hard thing to deal with, especially when it is likely that you will be the one standing to help that same friend with the fallout when things go badly.
I find myself using the phrase alot "I feel this way because I care about you and I want the best for you!" And yes, most of the time I feel that way. But sometimes, even that isn't an excuse to force my advice or opinion on a friend. Sometimes, even if the situation will end up going exactly how I saw it go, and even if I will be the one to hear about it and console someone afterwards, it's really none of my business to do any more than listen and speak when asked.
I find that self-control is hardest when it comes to friendships. Friendships are a choice we make, every single day. We are bound by no law to remain friends, as in a marriage. We are not bound my nature to support them always, as with children. It's the one close relationship we have that is completely and totally gauged on it's success rate by how much or how little we want to invest, and how much or a how little someone still wants to be a part of it. It is also fragile, because one big mistake or many small ones over time can end a friendship forever. Sometimes, people change too much and friendships don't last. Sometimes, you just get so fed up by a friend that you ask yourself if the friendship is still even worth your time. But sometimes, you have to resolve that friendships are work, just like any other long term relationship, and we have to treat them very carefully. Your friends won't always be there if you continually make mistakes, no matter how much you refer to them as your "BFFs" or your "besty" or any other label you put on them, if you don't treat the friendship with respect. And that means, sometimes, ALOT of times, you learn when to keep your mouth shut and your ears open, no matter how much you disagree.
I feel myself very convicted of this right now, so I am talking to myself at this moment. How do you feel? Have you been judged by friends, or been the one judging?

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