Sunday, May 13, 2012

Who knows?

I have been thinking about my oldest friend all day. And the impetus for all this reflection were a pair of wildly divergent TV shows: Joel Osteen's ministry and Mad Men.

I was too lazy to get to church today so I watched Joel Osteen's televised service. I like his sunny Christianity. I believe in it. You can have all the hell, fire and brimstone you can handle. I know my Lord loves me, that's why he sacrificed His son for me. He wants me to be happy. As Joel says, "God desires for me to experience joy where He placed me." So I'm fine praying with Osteen on Sunday.

And today his sermon could not have been more spot on for my oldest friend and me. For she's still troubled, still fragile, still surrounded by her troubled kids and the uninvolved cousin she moved 2000 miles to be near. First my shrink told me I'll be happier, and our relationship would be more peaceful, if I quit trying to run my oldest friend's life. But it's a trap I keep falling into.

So this morning's sermon approached it from the spiritual side. "It’s easy to focus on others’ faults and what we would like to change about them. But, God is the one that put the talents, creativity and strengths into each person.  Isaiah 64:8 says, 'We’re the clay and you’re our potter: all of us are what you made us.' Our job isn’t to change people. Learn to accept that God is the one directing their steps, making them and molding them into who He wants them to be. If you’ll learn to love, honor and accept people for who they are right now, your relationships will go to a whole new level." The Lord is the sculptor, not me. She is as God made her. Any change will be between the two of them. It's my job to accept her as she is right now. Must remember that!

Then I watched Mad Men. Betty, Don's ex, now married to a New York state politician. She's struggling with her weight, with her kids, with her new marriage. And she hates how happy Don is with his new wife, Megan. Betty's willing to put their daughter in the middle of her warfare with the ex-husband who has soooo moved on. All this is very much like my oldest friend and her ex. He used to be verbally abusive, but those days are over. I don't know if he's outgrown that sort of thing, or if she's broken him of it because she refuses to engage. I don't care. I love my friend and I'm glad he's knocked it off.

But she still makes digs at him, puts him down in front of the kids. She refuses to co-parent, even though her daughter spends holidays with him. How awful it must be for that girl, to bounce from his ZERO TOLERANCE when it comes to boys and drugs to her mother's more passive "let's choose our battles" approach! But, like Betty on Mad Men, my oldest friend is unable to stop herself, no matter how much she loves her kids. Like Betty, she resents the bond her daughter feels with dad's second wife.

I wonder: as she watches Mad Men, does she see herself in Betty? Do any of us see ourselves that clearly? And I'm not going to ask her if she saw Mad Men tonight, and certainly not if she saw herself in it.

It's my job to love her, not to change her. God is the sculptor, not me. She's not a clump of clay on my potter's wheel, she's a person who deserves my support, not my nagging. Starting tomorrow, I will try harder.

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