If there is one thing that I am thankful for in my life it is that God has put friends in my life that love me enough to tell me the truth. No matter how painful. No matter how much it might hurt. The unadulterated plain and simple corrective criticism that we all need from time to time that causes us to become better people. And, I especially appreciate it since I realize that they are taking the chance that I might not want to hear the truth, get my back up and sever our relationship even though they are doing it for my own good. I see them as being ītrue friendsī in the deepest sense of the word because their ultimate goal is to see me become the kind of person that God wants me to be.
One such friend is Bette. One day she started acting a bit cool and reserved, as if she was merely a polite guest visiting me, rather than a buddy. I sensed the strain in our relationship almost immediately. I cautiously watched from a distance for a while and then I outright confronted her expecting that I had committed some serious breach against her. After being pressured a little she finally blurted, "You parked in a wheelchair parking spot!"
I started processing what she had just said. I thought she was joking. There was total silence for what seemed like five minutes until I realized she was not going to say anything else. No, there was nothing else. She was serious. That was it. That was what was causing the tension even though I knew that she knew that I was in very excruciating pain because of my back on the day in question. She also knew that I had a wheelchair parking permit hanging in my van.
The first thing that reared itīs ugly little head in my spirit was, "Oh boy, if THATīS ALL youīve got on me, Iīm more wonderful than I thought. Ho ho ho, I must be pretty special if thatīs all you can come up with against me."
Even after discussing the situation with her at great length and trying to convince her that I was justified for using my husbandīs permit, she would not relent and said it compromised my integrity. Now thatīs what I call a pretty serious accusation! I argued that it would be absolutely assinign for me to first go to a doctorīs office to prove my back hurts, then send away to Canada for a sticker that takes six weeks to process. By then I would not need my own sticker.
Fortunately, I had enough wisdom to tell her that I was going to take it up with the Lord. But before talking to God about the situation I told my husband why Bette had acted like she had an axe to grind. He couldnīt stop laughing because the one thing I constantly and relentlessly harp at him about is not parking in those spaces on the days that he feels well and is able to walk further and I insist he leave those spots instead for someone who canīt. (Since he critiques these articles that I write, maybe heīll get convicted and stop -- heeheehee, weīll see)
When I finally asked God for His perspective on this situation the response caused me to want to crawl under a rock. Since my husbandīs permit had his name on the back and not mine, that meant that a police officer would have every legal right under the law to issue me a ticket. Since I could be fined $200.00, that meant that I MUST BE breaking a law.
The revelation absolutely stunned me. Me? Donna? Breaking the law? Even as a kid I was a stickler for rules and regulations and obeying my parents! People have always said that my honesty borders on stupidity and yet here I was, totally blind and oblivious to something that was not only against the law, but could cause strangers, or maybe even someone that would recognize me from my picture in this paper, or someone that had come to one of my speaking engagements to think of me in a much different light than I should be projecting.
None of us are where God needs us to be. We have blind spots. We have weaknesses. We also have very conditioned behavioral patterns that we do not realize might be offensive to others, not to mention offensive to God. Therefore, since īiron sharpens ironī (Proverbs 27:17 KJV) we indisputably need each other. We need each otherīs expertise. We need each otherīs wealth of knowledge and insight.
So since God, in His wisdom, uses each and every believer in Christ as an instrument and tool to help form the nature and character of Christ in us, I pray He fills your life with friends such as this and I pray that this Thanksgiving you have an opportunity to celebrate that friendship together.