When my son was growing up, he would often talk with me about situations requiring difficult decisions. Rather than give him an answer, I usually asked him to decide who he wanted to be. If there were two ways to deal with a situation, then he should examine each way and look at the kind of person would take each action. Then he should decide which of those people he wanted to be. The question was always less about what to he should do and more about who he wanted to be. Did he want to take the action that a kind person would take or did he want to take that action that a complete tool would take? Not that every situation can be broken down that easily, but you get what I’m saying.
Last week, I got a call from an old friend I haven’t heard from in two years or so. I was really thrilled to hear from him since it was a day when I was feeling particularly low emotionally – like I have been frequently here lately. After the first few sentences, I realized that he hadn’t called because he wanted to talk with me; he called because he wanted something from me. What a let-down. As you can imagine, that didn’t do my mood any good. At that moment, to me he was That Guy.
But, here are some things I have to remember:
- Neither he nor anyone else is responsible for my mood, either maintaining or elevating it.
- Friendships change – they ebb and flow; however, their current state has no bearing on their previous state (what I mean, but am not saying very well, is that just because this man and I are no longer close friends doesn’t mean that we never were.)
- I must guard and work on relationships that are important to me to avoid being That Guy.
- I have been That Guy.
- I will likely be That Guy again.
I have to make certain that I am not that person who only talks to people when I want something. I have to stay engaged with those who are important to me regardless of my situation. I may be enjoying the breeze on the parapet while they are in the stuffy air of the dungeon just as easily as they may be on the parapet while I’m all stretched out on the rack. For all I know, we may both have views of the Iron Maiden!
I guess my point is that I must consciously work on relationships that are important to me. I don’t know what friends or strangers are going through or not going through. While I may be reluctant to ask for their help, they may be just as reluctant to ask for mine. However, if I call for no reason, ask them for coffee or whatever, that may be just the encouragement they need.
I know that it makes a world of difference for me.