“Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and gifts will be given to you: a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap.” – Lk. 6:37

A close friend calls crying over the ending of a significant relationship. She lives across town and in rush hour traffic you will be moving at a maximum speed of 5 MPH to get to her. You have nothing planned tonight that can’t be rearranged. What do you do?

Do you analyze who picked up the tab on the last meal out? Ponder the missed birthday last spring? Or do you get in the car (swing by wherever along the way for their favorite treat) and spend the rest of the night camped out at her kitchen counter listening to all the details?  In some relationships, we are always keeping track of who is more deserving (of excuses, sacrifices) and who has given more (finances, time, chances).

When we get caught in that dynamic, we tend to cling more fiercely to what we have while demanding more from those around us. Suddenly our compassion and concern have more conditions on it. Instead of facing our own lukewarm desire to respond generously, we run from the discomfort. We avoid the re-connecting friend, we hide from the victims of recent tragedies, we scamper away from the neighbor whose son is having trouble at school.  Our focus shifts from the person before us to what we are “owed.” We say things like: “despite what he has done to me” or “even though she is a ________.”

Perhaps I am most guilty of holding God to this test. God who doesn’t answer my prayers, God who lets bad things happen to good people, God who responds in silence. I keep telling God how he hasn’t measured up to my expectations. I pat myself on the back for giving HIM one more chance each time I show up in prayer.

Lord, help me to be the unconditional friend to you that you already are to me.

Jen Coito

Photo Credit: Clem Onojeghuo