Jan 13, 2020 • Written by Kim White
The Benefit of the Doubt
The following was submitted during the open call for writers from the Appleton Alliance congregation.
After dropping my son off, I was walking to my vehicle when I spotted a good friend across the parking lot. I smiled and waved only to be greeted with a half-hearted wave and maybe a smile. I was going to approach her and chat, but this response made me hesitate. Very quickly the thought entered my mind- I wonder why she's mad at me? followed by a host of insecurities and negative thoughts.
Has that ever happened to you? You see someone you know across a distance, wave, and don't get the response you were expecting? I decided to approach her-for better or for worse. As I got closer she said, 'Oh Kim, hi!' We exchanged greetings and then she said, “I didn't know that was you. The sun was in my eyes.”
I am so glad I moved towards her and not away from her! Can you imagine how it could have gone so wrong if I had let my insecurities and negative thoughts swell and kept walking towards my car? A beautiful, encouraging friendship could have slowly eroded away simply because the sun was in her eyes and I thought it was a scowl.
Later, as I was going over our conversation and feeling thankful that quite frankly, I put aside my brief hurt at her initial response to me, I wondered how many times something like that has happened before.
I recently read the book, Never Unfriended by Lisa-Jo Baker. I would encourage anyone to pick-up a copy and read if you haven't already. There are wise words in those pages. In Never Unfriended Lisa says, "And on the days we're tangled up in our own insecurities, let's agree to give each other the gift of the benefit of the doubt. Wrapped up with the giant bow of believing the best about each other, even when we don't feel like it."
It takes courage to step into a friendship when our doubts and insecurities tell us to walk the other way. I pray that I will be brave and vulnerable enough to love and encourage a friend no matter the insecurities, and let the Son shine through.
Lisa Jo-Baker is the 2020 Encounter Weekend for Women speaker. To hear her message on authentic friendship February 21st-23rd at the Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, sign up here.