Since I spend the majority of my time with teenagers, I sometimes get the honor of being a friend, too. And when they get hurt, I offer my love through a listening ear. Recently, a few of these dear people have unburdened their hearts with stories that leave me sad but thankfully, not confused. Here’s how it goes:
As adults, we know that it doesn’t take long on this planet before someone’s going to hurt us. Well, these friends of mine were hurt so badly and couldn’t understand why the people who they previously thought were friends were behaving so, well, unfriendly! In one case, they were unrepentantly snubbed with merely a shrug and in another, were the scapegoat for someone else’s sins. People on the periphery did nothing to help, just left them stranded in cold water.
In talking to them, one observation made us mildly cheered and that is that most people are just temporary idiots. The periphery people, especially teenagers, are basically good, solid kids. Their hearts are in the right place and they want to do the right thing, but when friends’ relationships sour, the folks on the fringe don’t know what to do. So, they end up doing nothing, which can hurt in its covertness as much as the original hurt in its overtness. Saying nothing is sometimes the wisest route, but other times, saying nothing hurts terribly. This is where temporary idiocy comes in. Their silence or hurtful actions are hopefully temporary. Usually when the dust settles, they can see they were in error in stranding their friend. The true friend will tell them that later.
I know this because I had a friend do something similar to me. She had distanced herself with giant bounds because she guessed I wouldn’t like a decision she made. I had no idea why she was so cool, but I gave her space and didn’t freak out. Almost a year later, she called me and shared that she had changed course and now wanted to talk. It was one of the best talks ever because I could honestly tell her that ignoring me didn’t help either of us. She had assumed incorrectly. I was completely indifferent about her decision so her fears were ungrounded but just having her say she was a temporary idiot made me admire and love her more.
In a recent movie, I heard this wonderful line: The heart is not so easily changed, but the head can be persuaded. Isn’t that true? Our hearts and minds get entangled so easily, but our heads have hope! When we give each other some time, and talk openly, we can confess that we all mess up. With time, we come around. May we all have the grace to give to each other generously through warm hearts and listening ears.