The Hazard of Friendship.
One of the first things I saw on Facebook the morning after the election was a status celebrating Trump’s victory. The first person to comment wrote, “Can’t wait to never see your name again.”
I worry about the division this political season seems to have left behind. I worry because we are so filled with disdain for people with different opinions that we can’t even handle being friends with them on Facebook any longer.
I worry that people will burn bridges in the heat of the moment without realizing their actions will leave a permanent mark. I worry we will look back in days, months, or years with tears in our eyes as we see the destruction we left behind us for the first time.
I’ll admit, sometimes it is painstakingly challenging to interact with people who have opinions we disagree with. Sometimes it makes sense to walk away from relationships that bring more stress than joy. There are times when it’s clear that the bridge has got to go. I get that, I really do. But we also have to realize that it is highly unlikely that we will ever agree with another person on everything. We will naturally encounter conflict.
If burning bridges is our version of conflict-resolution, we are going to end up surrounded by nothing but the ashes of bridges that once stood strong.
That’s not the kind of life I want to live. I do not want to be so concerned with being “right” that I cut off all ties to people who disagree with me. I do not want to force people into a box that God did not design them to fit in.
My box is for me. Your box is for you. Our boxes will not always look alike, and our lives are richer because of it.
In a speech about Donald Trump becoming the President-elect, President Obama said:
A lot of our fellow Americans are exultant today. A lot of Americans are less so. But that’s the nature of campaigns. That’s the nature of democracy. It is hard, and sometimes contentious and noisy, and it’s not always inspiring.
This is true for far more than politics.
As we learn more about people, we won’t always find things we like. We may even find things that we despise. That’s the hazard of friendship: it’s not always easy and burning the bridge won’t solve anything.
Thankfully, however, easy and worthy of our time are not the same thing.
School isn’t always easy. Sports aren’t always easy. Music isn’t always easy. Pursuing many of our passions is not easy. And yet, we press on.
Because a lot of things worth pursuing are not easy, but they fulfill us in ways easy paths cannot.
Taking a step back before burning the bridge is worth it. Pausing to take a deep breath so we don’t say something we don’t mean is worth it. Learning how to be friends with people who think differently than us is worth it.
Because friendships that expand our horizons fulfill us in ways friendships that don’t challenge us do not.
It is in the disagreements that we discover how firmly we believe in our ideas. It is through different preferences that we are introduced to new foods, new music, and new ways of thinking. The very things that make friendships difficult are the same things that cause the most growth in us.
It will take intentionality to stick around, though.
For Christians in particular, refusing to burn bridges over different opinions will require us to seek out the image of God in the people we disagree with. Even in the candidate we think will ruin the country. Even in the classmate who gets on our nerves simply by walking into the room. Even in the person who told us alllll about what we can and cannot do.
The image of God is in these people. The hazard of friendship is that you can’t burn the bridge if you ever want to find it.