We talked in this space last week about one of the most important things in life: being friends. I want to reprint that commentary here, in case some of you missed it, so that as I go on into Part 2 of this observation, you will not have to wonder what was said in Part 1, yes?
So here is Part 1 again, with the newest commentary continuing at the bottom of this reprint...
I hope and trust that your life has been wonderful this week. Let me say that the important thing is to be friends.
Be friends with everybody.
Be friends with your spouse. Be friends with your children. Be friends with your relatives. Be friends with your neighbors and your fellow workers and your acquaintances. And yes, even be friends with your enemies.
One of the most stinging criticisms I ever received was when someone to whom I was once married, and who I truly and dearly loved, once said to me: "You treat your friends better than you treat me."
I never, ever forgot that. Because I knew it was true. It is absolutely, stunningly true that I had more tolerance for, more patience with, more leniency regarding my friends' behaviors than I did with the person with whom I was sharing my life.
I said things to my life partner that I would never say to a friend. I criticized my life partner for things that I would simply "let go" with a friend. I noticed things with my life partner that I would overlook with a friend. And I let things bother me---annoy me, actually---that my life partner did that wouldn't even phase me if a friend did the exact same thing.
What is this about? I began to wonder. Why do we so often treat those closest to us as if they were not "close" to us at all? Is it because we know them better than we know our friends, spending more time with them day in and day out as we do? Could it really be true that "familiarity breeds contempt"?
No, no...say it isn't so! Shouldn't familiarity breed compassion, understanding, patience, tolerance, acceptance, and deeper and deeper love? Shouldn't intimate relationship be the place of greatest safety, not of the least?
When I was a small child (which was very, very long ago) there was a song that was popular. Even then it was an Oldie But Goodie, and we had an old phonograph record of it sung by the Mills Brothers that I used to play on the family Victrola (Ha! Does anyone even know who or what I am talking about here---???)
The some was called, You Always Hurt the One You Love. And the lyrics went something like this...if I can remember them now...
You always hurt the one you love
The one you shouldn't hurt at all
You always take the sweetest rose
And crush it `til the petals fall
You always break the kindest heart
With a hasty word you can't recall
So if I broke your heart last night
It's because I love you most of all.
The irony of that song sticks with me to this very day. I have come to deeply regret (and to beg them and the heavens forgiveness for) the many ways that I have treated beloved others who have been close to me, and to realize that one of the greatest gifts we can give to a loved one is friendship. Pure and simple friendship. Just treat them like a Friend. Like we would treat someone we are afraid of losing.
So yes, be friends with your spouse. Be friends with your children. Be friends with your relatives. Be friends with your neighbors and your fellow workers and your acquaintances. And yes, even be friends with your enemies. And most of all...be friends with yourself!
That may be the hardest thing to do of all. And so we'll take a close look at that next week.
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Okay, so now it IS "next week", and we get a chance to look at that.
It is true that being one's own best friend can be one of the hardest things in life to do. In my own experience it involved something along the lines of a three-step process, which felt like...
My road to self-friendship began with self-forgiveness. It proceeded to self-acceptance, and it ended with self-celebration. Self-forgiveness was, for me, the biggest challenge.
I have done a lot of things in my life that I am not happy about. I found that I thought about these things all the time. And the more I thought about them, the worse I felt, of course. And also, the more I thought about them, the more I thought about them. Thought begets thought. Emotions give birth to more emotions of the same species. My mind was having its way with me.
I moved into heavy guilt about a lot of my past choices and behaviors. It didn't seem to do me any good to say that "I'll never do that again." What's past is past and can't be undone. So there was nothing to BE done...except live with it. Just "life with" the guilt.
Even if I "cleaned it up" by going to the people I felt I'd hurt and apologizing and offering to do whatever I could to make amends, I still couldn't off-load the guilt. I just couldn't forgive myself.
Then I had my conversation with God, and everything changed. I learned, first, that I was spotless and innocent in the eyes of The Divine. God looked upon me as I would look upon a 4-year-old child. I simply didn't know what I was doing; I simply didn't understand. Even if I really did understand, I actually didn't. I mean, I understood part of it. I grasped a little bit of it. I certainly knew the difference between Right and Wrong, but I didn't understand the Whole Story. I didn't know who I was, where I was, why I was where I was, or what I was trying to do here. No one had given me the answers to life's Four Fundamental Questions. No one had even asked me the questions. I didn't even know these questions existed.
Then, further into my conversation with God, I was told something even more shocking, more stunning to my system. "There is," God said to me, "no such thing as Right and Wrong."
As you can imagine, this overturned my whole value system (not that I was paying much attention to it anyway...). I had to start over from scratch in viewing and evaluating the choices and behaviors of my life.
NEXT WEEK: Part 3 - The Key to Forgiveness
Love and Hugs,
© 2019 ReCreation Foundation - http://www.cwg.org - Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. His With God series of books has been translated into 27 languages, touching millions of lives and inspiring important changes in their day-to-day lives.