“Love overlooks the mistakes of others, but dwelling on the failures of others devastates friendships” (Proverbs 17:9 The Passion Translation).
I’m pretty sure everyone longs for a friend that they can trust, turn to in times of trouble and enjoy good times with. Yet often we forget that to get a good friend, means we have to be willing to be a good friend for someone else. That sounds simple, and it is, but what makes it so rare? What makes it so difficult?
The short answer? Self-centeredness. We tend to focus on what is most important to us. Bob and I help so many people in relationships that want to be restored, but when they focus on the pain and their “rights” in the situation, they will never see beyond their own needs and move towards healing. If only we could move beyond ourselves, and as this beautiful proverb states, overlook the mistakes of others!
Accepting our loved ones just as they are, without changes, or growth or maturity is a tremendous challenge, but this is where we must start. We must allow them to stay as they are, if that is what they want to do. I sure appreciate patience from my friends, and from my kids and Bob to tolerate my idiosyncrasies and shortcomings! I want to give people the same mercy they are giving me.
After accepting your loved ones, help them with the energy to change by motivating them, inspiring them, mentoring them, cheering them on, listening to them, giving them quality time, whatever helps. Most people that would benefit from changing already know it - they don't believe that the effort is worth it! I for one, would be the first to confess that I have a pretty good idea what would be best for me in certain areas (a.k.a.donuts) but I don’t always do it, because I’m unwilling to make the sacrifice. I’m so thankful my friends and family don’t judge me…
Then, just reach out and be interested in their interests. This is opposite of apathy! You don't have to love what they love, but allow them to love their interests in your presence. Be with them when they are enjoying their lives. I have watched my Robert play video games, even though I actually got pretty dizzy, but he was so excited to tell me all the details, and he was sharing his heart with me! Robert literally loved telling me about something I cared nothing about.
Finally, when it comes to 'overlooking' mistakes. To overcome a mistake almost sounds like to survive it. My goal is to maximize the benefit, or get the most out of the mistake. Sometimes, a major mistake gives us the determination to never be vulnerable to it again. Some people have tremendous self-discipline in various areas of their life, because they once failed in that area.
Overlooking doesn't mean ignore, it means process and move on. The past is over, let's learn from it. No mistake stays a mistake unless we repeat it. If we learned from it, and have found a way to avoid it in the future, that’s wisdom. If they don't see their own responsibility in the 'mistake', it may be helpful to gently push them to accept so ownership, otherwise they will be victimized by their own ignorance for a long time, and that is not love, or being a true friend. The Holy Spirit is our best friend and will guide us to if or when these loving and gentle conversations will take place.
Today is my day to remember that every one of us has experienced pain, and will experience it again. Out of love and wisdom, I will get out of my own self-centeredness and recognize when someone I love is suffering. I will overlook their mistake and stop dwelling on their failures. Just as I have been so deeply loved, even in my greatest mistake, I will extend huge amounts of mercy to others.
Have a wonderful weekend, and a fabulous “fight for your family” Friday!