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A Letter About Bad Friendship Habits

Dear Ellen,*

As our friendship has started to grow, you may have noticed that I have some bad friendship habits. The more I have prayed about this the more I have felt convicted that I must make some changes. By myself that just doesn't seem to happen. I'm wondering if we could make a pact to help each other in certain areas? Perhaps if we get them polished in our friendship, we can start to teach others the positive, better side of each coin.

Now I've got you puzzled, right? Let me back up and explain.

We are both talkative. We have a lot to say. Unfortunately, sometimes I get too talkative - I say things I ought to leave unsaid. Or unwritten, in the case of emails.

Like what? Well, I've been confiding things to you that others have shared with me, which is really their information, and it is none of my business to repeat it. Even if it's juicy, and I know you'd be impressed. Sometimes I tell you everything I'm thinking, or "under my shirt" as my Gra'ma used to say. In some matters that's okay, but sometimes I violate my own privacy, and I fear that often I violate the privacy of others too. Okay, let me confess it, there is a danger that those confidences might be shared with others, and that's scary.

So, Ellen, I've been praying about this, and God has been stopping me in my tracks with some verses I found in Proverbs that talk about discretion. God has given me enough sense to recognize that I need to discipline my talkativeness and learn instead a skill in being discrete - to overcome my bad friendship habits.

What does that mean? Well, I'm learning that to be discrete, or have the gift of discretion, means to be wise and discerning as to what is good and proper to say, and to leave unsaid the things that ought not to be said - or written.

This is where I see a huge learning curve for me ahead. My family has always been the kind to be frank and direct. Maybe, because I was very shy as a child, I've never had the nerve to be that blunt, but it also means I have no example to copy. Instead, I've been very frank and direct to individual friends, and dumped a lot of my thoughts on them. It's also rather embarrassing to think of standing up in church and asking everyone to pray about this. I don't have the nerve to be that open about my bad friendship habits!

Do you think it's copping out to ask just one friend to help me conquer my bad friendship habit and learn a new discernment skill?

Naturally, Ellen, I'm not asking you to perform a miracle in my life. That's what our Best Friend Jesus does. Rather, if you would pray for me (and I'll pray for you of course!), and if you'd help me brainstorm for ways to learn this, and if you'd give me a nudge - really tactful and kind, please - when I slip up. I'm hoping that will embarrass me into changing faster. You know how we've both said we hate for someone to scold us. Well, a subtle hint from a friend like you might be just the smidgen of scolding to cure me of my bad friendship habit!

Now, if you are willing to help me, we can brainstorm for more practical ideas, but let me share some of the topics or areas where I need to be on guard.

Instead of worrying I should be trusting God. Sometimes I go on and on about something that bothers me. You can tell when I'm going in circles, I'm sure. So how about suggesting we pray together about it? We'll ask Him to help solve that problem and then not talk about it for the rest of our time together.

Running down my parents. I think you've picked up that I do love them, but some things bother me about them, and I know I should not ruin their reputation by spreading those 'incidents.' I guess it's just a cry for pity. So if you said, "But you love them because....?" I'd have to stop and say something good about them. That might help. :)

In fact, maybe we should include my siblings and other friends.

I've heard -- (oops) someone - say that trying to say only positive things about everybody is foolish and becomes a childish game. Well, I'm not likely to turn that positive, but I sure need to be far more positive than I am most of the time. Please, Ellen, if you'll try doing this too, we'll both benefit with a better attitude and have less things to apologize for later.

I better sign off....

P.S. Oh wow! Thanks for phoning! I couldn't resist sharing all this with you and I was so glad that you are willing to help, and hey, YOU want my help too? This is going to be great! We are both going to grow spiritually as a result of this, and be so-o-o much happier! Down with bad friendship habits! Thank you, Ellen!

Thank You, Jesus!

(* not real name)

Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One

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