Jumping to conclusions – or reading between the lines – can be destructive in friendships. Be careful what you’re reading into!
She’s one of those friends who gets me down to me deepest soul, and we talk almost every day. We pray for each other and for our marriages and kids and churches. We encourage each other on the hard days.
But this past week? It was days of not hearing from her, except for a few short bursts of communication in the way of emoticons and a quick hello.
“Maybe she hates your guts,” my husband said.
“That’s probably it. She probably doesn’t even like me,” I said.
It’s a little game we started playing –I don’t know when. When some delay of communication happens in a relationship, Matt and I play “Let’s Imagine The Worst Case Scenario.” Even though we’re in our 40s, we are still often insecure people who worry about how people feel about us, but we know this insecurity can suck the life out of relationships if we let it. So my husband and I acknowledge insecurity by playfully exaggerating what we feel in our hearts.
She hates me.
My spouse must be mad at me.
My boss must think I’m a total loser.
Reading between the lines –it’s a social skill that requires grace instead of jumping to the worst conclusion.
In the Bible, we read this instruction to followers of Christ:
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:3-4 ESV)
So what is a girl to do when she doesn’t hear from someone important in her life, and those feelings of insecurity loom large?
The answer is that we cannot let selfishness rule the day. Instead, we should turn from looking at the needs of our own hearts and consider the needs of the other person.
One way we can consider the interest of the other person is to ask questions that have his or her best interest at heart:
Why hasn’t this person called? Is she sick? Is she stressed? I wonder what she needs right now? Could she really use some encouragement from me? What should I pray for her today? How could I surprise her with a show of my love and faithfulness?
We should read well between the lines, looking at the needs of this person we care about so much.
We can choose to serve instead of to be served. In so doing, we have to decide if we truly love this person or if we’re just in the relationship to get something.
And we have to go to the best source to have our emotional needs met. We look to Jesus to find our value, and he never has a busy week with no time to call. He is always available. When we allow him to fill the insecure places in the depths of our souls, then we are free –free to love and serve the people in our lives without being so needy.
Now a hard question –have you been that friend who reads the worst into the lulls of communication? Do you get your feelings hurt easily and demand that your friend meet your emotional needs? Are you putting pressure on your friend to spend a certain amount of time with you or to treat you a certain way?
Or are you the servant friend, caring more about the other person’s needs than your own?
May we become faithful friends who stay and give.
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Christy Fitzwater is a writer and pastor’s wife living in Kalispell, Montana. She has a daughter who is married and a son in college. Christy writes to help people know God, and you can find her new book about becoming blameless on Amazon. Or follow her devotional blog at ChristyFitzwater. You can follow Christy on Instagram here!