A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
I received so many comments, emails and texts from the post I wrote When Apologizes Aren’t Necessary, all of them (I literally mean ALL of them) in support of my decision not to apologize.
This has me thinking about relationships in general. The varying degrees of intimacy and closeness you have with some and the relative distance and disconnection you have with others. It seems to be somewhat of a mystery to me.
Generally outgoing and sociable with everyone I meet, this advice in Ecclesiastes is confusing. Often, in personal and business settings, I will offer a hug rather than a handshake. It’s just my way. And maybe that is not a good idea? I’ll give you an example that came to mind recently.
When I was an elementary ed student at Winona State University there was one guy, I’ll call Tim, who was in quite a few of my classes. He was often sitting alone, wore hearing aids and his speech was a little hard to understand because of it. I have always been sensitive enough to go out of my way to make people feel included, so this was just one of those cases.
A group project was assigned and I grabbed a few friends to work with and, seeing he was looking for a group, I also invited him. We worked for a few months on this project, meeting at the library or after class, and finished it with success. Summer was arriving and class was ending. On the last day he asked me for my home phone number and address so he could write me over the summer. I didn’t know what to say…so I gave it to him.
Well, a month later, on July 11th, which happened to be my 21st birthday, my doorbell rang. Who was it? Yep. You guessed it. Tim. He had driven seven hours from Minnesota to Chicago to surprise me for my birthday with some homemade jam. It was the strangest, most awkward moment ever. My parents and I were heading out for the evening to a play downtown and he was an uninvited guest.
What would you do?
Well, fortunately, my dad was not one to put up with any bullshit. So he told Tim that it was very rude to show up unannounced and that I did not want to see him. He advised him to go get a hotel room and head back home the next day. I remember sitting inside feeling horrible and yet also knowing that I did not want to encourage the friendship. Afterall, we were just classmates nothing more.
He left. We went on with our night. I still had a sinking feeling I had done something wrong. Was I too nice? Did I lead him to believe in any way that I was interested in him? I couldn’t remember one time that I did, other than actually being a decent human being who was loving and kind.
So I don’t know if that is what this verse is really about, but I do know that as you live out the love of God and as you radiate with His light shining through you, people will be attracted to it. Human beings are desperate for God’s love and for many the closest we get to it is through our human experience.
I believe this was probably the case for him. He wasn’t looking for me (although he didn’t know that), he just saw God in me and was after that love and acceptance that only God can give.
Remember that God’s love is revealed in us and through us. Let it always point back to the Source from which it came. It is not about me, it’s just my life being used as a channel for God’s love to be revealed to others in the world.
Treasure those relationships you have where you can reveal the love of God to one another. Hold onto those special friendships with gratitude. But also be aware that you have to maintain your personal boundaries in the process. Not everyone deserves your time or your love equally.
Embrace with care. Embrace with wisdom. Embrace with God’s love in your heart and also know when it’s a time to not embrace. Because sometimes you have to protect your heart and the hearts of others. God’s love in human form can be too strong to handle. Share it wisely and with discernment. That is wisdom.