by Neale Donald Walsch
My dear friends...
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-
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 song 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.
Love and Hugs,