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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Not Easy Being {With} Green


As I was driving down the highway not too long ago, I heard an interesting statistic on the radio. Of course, coming from a pop news show on the radio, who knows if this little bit of trivia is even true. But, while I was at first skeptical, I've thought this through and decided that whoever researched or dreamed up this fact is definitely onto something.

It turns out, according to the radio guru and my own experience, that we all have at least one in six of our friends with whom we don't really like to spend much time.

Okay. Have you read that over and over and let it sink in sufficiently? Yes, you read correctly. We all have at least one but maybe even a dozen or so friends with whom we don't especially care to hang out for very long.

I call these, in fitting with my Harvest of Friendship theme, our Green Delicious Apple friends. You may know these tart and slightly sour apples as Granny Smith Apples, but it so happens that there is a region in Canada where the folks do indeed call them Green Delicious Apples. We'll go with my Canadian neighbors on this one.

(We'll get to the Golden Delicious Friends on another day.)

If friends are two people who mutually speak into each others' lives and friendships are measured by the ongoing conversation between two friends, then a Green Delicious Apple friendship is simply one where the conversation has soured to the extent that you no longer favor that relationship.

After all, while a few of you may prefer the tart bite of a Green Delicious Apple, most of us prefer a sweeter fruit. Likewise, when it comes to our friendships, we generally favor those where the conversation is mutually sweet and juicy as opposed to bitter and crisp.

A Green Delicious friend is that friend you still love and value, but you decidedly spend less time with if possible. Why? Because the conversation soured a little somewhere along the way. 

Often a Green Delicious Apple friend is one who speaks:
  • too much.
  • over you.
  • a lot about her wonderful husband..
  • too much about her perfect, brilliant, athletic, obedient, and charming son.
  • too critically.
  • bitterly.
  • with self-pity.
  • too loudly.
  • too much about herself.
  • or even too little.
The bottom line is the conversation makes you uncomfortable, ill at ease, or even testy. Thus, while you love her, you don't relish spending too much time in her company.

Now that you've had a moment to wrestle a bit with this bittersweet assertion, what do you think? Do you have one or even a few such friends? Come on. Get honest. 

I do. Or at least I have at different times in my life. I hesitate to share much about this rather personal confession on this very public platform, but suffice it to say I do indeed have a few friends with whom the "conversation" is a little less palatable than with others.

In fact, it occurred to me that even Jesus had a Green Delicious Apple friend. Not only do we know that eventually one of His twelve closest friends would betray him with a kiss, but we learn in John 12:1-6 that Judas, the betrayer himself, even said things that surely would have ticked off any other friend except the blameless Son of God. 

In a precious moment of selfless worship and adoration, Mary, the sister of the risen Lazarus, was anointing Jesus' tired feet with a costly and precious ointment. Judas, known by Jesus to pilfer from the 13 men's treasury, had the audacity to say, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor people?"

Come on. Do you think Judas' real motives and poor timing were wasted on Jesus? Certainly not. Our Savior didn't lash out at Judas for his inconsiderate remark as most of us may have, but He certainly took note of it. 

Jesus loved Judas, as He did His other disciples. But He knew that Judas wasn't the same kind of friend as some of the others. He was definitely a Green Delicious Apple friend.

And yet...

And yet Jesus still treated Judas the same way He treated the other eleven. He spoke kindly to him, included him in intimate moments, taught him, prayed for him, and even died for him. Jesus loved Judas and, even when the "conversation" between them had soured a bit -- thanks to Judas' selfish and inconsiderate words -- Jesus still treated Judas with grace.

There's a lesson for us in this little snippet of the gospel of John. 

You undoubtedly do have one or two Green Delicious Apple friends. The question isn't do we have them; the question is how are we treating them. 

Have we shut down? Stayed away? Retorted with bitter words and sarcasm? Quit answering the phone? Blackballed them? 

Maybe it's time to talk to the Master Friend, Jesus, about this Green Delicious Apple of ours. He understands, more than you might think, the predicament of being friends with someone who says all the wrong things at all the wrong times. He could probably offer us some sound advice.

Meanwhile, I'll have another post on this little green dilemma tomorrow. And there I'll throw out a few of my own ideas for sweetening up the soured conversations of your Green Delicious friendships.

Tell me what you think. Does this Green Delicious Friendship idea resonate with you? What has caused a friendship like this to sour in your experience?


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