After many years of separation, one of my long-time friends in ministry and I took a walk at at convention after the end of our daily sessions. We talked about one particular subject when it became obvious that our views diverged–substantially. “But don’t let this get in the way of our friendship,” my friend said, after an awkward pause. Our conversation continued on another subject, and our friendship continues.
By focusing on our friendship and setting aside our disagreement, my friend helped me. I learned that there are times in life when we must minimize our need to be right in order to maintain our relationship with someone important to us. I didn’t, however, just learn that once-and-for-all. Time and again, I must remind myself (usually what I’m frustrated and/or feeling angry) of that important lesson.
“A friend owes loyalty to one who fails, though he forsakes the fear of the Almighty,” Job states (6:14 JPS tr.). In the course of defending his innocence before his wisdom-teacher colleagues, Job tries to explain his anguish (Cf. 6:1ff.), how he experiences God (i.e., the target of his arrows 6:4), and his exhaustion (vv. 11-13). Because Job loses faith in God’s justice, his friends distance themselves from him. Job feels it.
“I’m their pastor whether they are mentally ill, or well,” one wise Chaplain supervisor I had in training once said. Whether they believe or not, we need to remain friends with people.
When have you found others withdrawing their friendship after a disagreement? Have you so needed to be right that you’ve cut off your relationship with a friend or relative?