Yesterday, I tried some “tough love” on a longtime friend. He didn’t take it so well. I guess I can see where’s coming from–maybe he’s feeling like I’ve kicked him while already down. I honestly don’t know. With him, I’m treading waters deeper than I’m equipped to navigate. You see, my friend is bi-polar.
For a long time now, there’s been an easily discernible pattern: despite the depression, other heartaches, losses, and suffering from chronic pain, he’ll tell me of how God is blessing, meeting his needs. Other times, he wants to end it all. The cycle repeats.
Yesterday, instead of encouraging, instead of handling his heart with kid gloves (as I had in times past), I misstepped, accusing him of attention-seeking. But I doubt that’s case (it could be, but not being a professional, I’m way, way out of my element). It’s all too deep for me. Maybe I lashed out because I didn’t want to hear it anymore? And what I mean by that is that I care deeply for my friend (I have never met a man more Job-like in his sufferings–any depression I’ve suffered seems so garden-variety in comparison), and it grieves me to hear of his pain. I’m literally at a loss for words. Whatever comfort I think to offer somehow feels false, rings hollow to my ears.
So yesterday, I didn’t try comfort. I tried to be tough, to be strong for him. What I heard back is “maybe you’re not the friend I thought you were. I won’t burden you anymore.” It grieves me that I hurt him, but time will tell if I did the right thing.
Right now, I’m doubting it. Maybe I need to be tough with my own heart, and tender with those of others? Or maybe I need to be tender with all hearts –including my own? It seems that I do the wrong thing at the wrong time–repeatedly. Thus goes the cycle.
Is there any truth to the that old song? Do we (sometimes) need to be “Cruel To Be Kind?”
Let me know in the comments.