My family is sitting second row for a Clemson home game. I knew it was going to be noisy. I expected it. But, there’s a man behind us who knows everything and won’t stop yelling into the back of my head. Part of me wishes he’d just put on a jersey and show us all how the game should be played. And just when I don’t think he can get any more obnoxious—he does. The refs make a few bad calls against our beloved team, and he loses it! “What’s wrong with you, ref?” Then—at the top of his lungs—he yells a long-winded “Boooo!” at every play for the rest of the game. I agree with his assessment, but I’m more irritated with Mr. Boo Fan than the refs because he’s keeping me from appreciating my second-row seats!
When the opposing team sustains their fourth injury, I can’t take it anymore. I sit on my seat covering my ears while Mr. Boo Fan shouts out his conspiracy theories, “Y’all ain’t injured. You’re just trying to ruin our momentum! Your guy is faking it.” A medical team surrounds the player, so we can’t tell what’s going on, but Mr. Boo Fan shouts his prophecies, “He isn’t hurt! I bet this guy hops up and gets right back in the game.” I feel Mr. Boo Fan’s skepticism creeping into my emotions. I’m starting to believe his conspiracy when the injured player rises from the middle of the crowd wearing a black and red cast on his arm. A golf cart pulls up to carry him away, and under his breath Mr. Boo Fan confesses, “Well, I guess he is hurt.” Then he screams at their bench, “My bad!” My frustration with him releases as he confesses his error.
I wonder how many times I have been Mrs. Boo Fan in my friendships. I wonder how many times I’ve misinterpreted a friend’s words or actions. I wonder how many times I was too scared or prideful to try to understand, listen, or work things out. I wonder how much time I’ve spent analyzing what “she” said—what she meant, what I think she was going to say, or even worse, what she meant by what she was going to say. I wonder how many times I had her figured out and thought I knew everything . . . until I discovered I knew nothing at all.
A few years ago, I attended a leadership conference where Andy Stanley preached. One of his quotes changed my perspective in my friendships. He said, “The one thing successful relationships all have in common is the inclination to immediately believe the best about their friend or significant other in the midst of failure or miscommunication.” As I listened to him, I realized that I wanted a friend who would understand, forgive, and give me the bene t of the doubt. I wanted a friend who wouldn’t judge me, but who would believe the best. I wanted a friend who wouldn’t jump to a rash conclusion about my character based on a moment of weakness.
But I also wondered how often I’m this kind of friend to others. How often do I believe the best?
We all fail our friends. We say things we don’t mean. We’re habitually inconsiderate, rude, and easily offended. We withdraw and give up when we should pursue and work through a problem. We don’t intend to hurt one another, but we’re imperfectly human. God is our only perfect friend. With this in mind, we have to let go of the preposterous assumption that anyone will love us as well as Jesus does. In friendship, conflict and disappointment are inevitable. If we want friendships that last, we have to free each other from the shackles of perfect performance and believe the best about each other. I wonder how many friendships we could save if we chose to believe the best.
It’s hard to believe the best about someone who has failed us. When I got in trouble as a little girl, my mom, grandmother, teachers, and everyone would say, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Luke 6:31). I’d roll my eyes, cross my arms, and exhale frustrated. I dreaded those words because even though they felt right, I just didn’t want to do them! But people will not believe the best about us if we’re not choosing to believe the best about them. The greater you give, the deeper you receive. When you believe the best about someone else, it keeps your heart clear of bitterness and gives them permission to believe the best about you.
Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, his friend can help him up . . . a cord of three strands is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:9, 12b). Life isn’t easy, and I know friendships aren’t either. But God has given us each other to encourage and build each other up, help each other run our race of faith, and give each other strength when we’re down. If we truly believe that two are better than one and a cord of three strands is harder to break, we have to buy into the idea that giving, not getting, is gaining. We must be willing to put ourselves on the shelf and believe the best about one another. When we love Jesus more in our friendships, we start serving others instead of ourselves and soon come to understand that investing in the lives of others brings joy and satisfaction to our own souls. God has called us to be light and salt in this world. He has called us to do friendships differently. We won’t be perfect, but we can sure try and watch him work miracles in our lives and the lives of those we love!
You have just read an exerpt from Sharie's newest book I Love You More (except when I don't) - Fighting to Keep Jesus First in the chapter I Love You More Than My Position. If you have enjoyed this and would like to continue reading you can purchase this book on Amazon and in the Store on this site.