I was chatting with some friends the other day and sharing with them something I felt like God was leading me to in the future. The conversation quickly turned negative. I snapped and awkwardness ensued. I left the conversation feeling hurt but also feeling bad for the way I reacted. I called my sister on the way home and we echoed a similar conversation we had JUST HAD a week ago, except with roles reversed. We hung up, and I called my friend to apologize. I knew I was wrong in how I handled it, and I made it right, but it left me thinking about the larger conversation that needs to happen—the conversation that needs to happen not just in private, soul-searching moments, but in culture. In our friend groups. In our families. In our communities.
I feel like there has been a shift in the way we treat one another. I don’t mean in regards to bullying (on-and-offline) or how we interact with our ‘enemies’. I’m specifically talking about how we treat the ones we love and do life with and how we consider our friends and family.
Our culture right now says that to be funny we need to be dramatic, over the top, sarcastic and at times, mean. I will admit I can be the chief offender. My friends and I are often too quick with the sarcastic remarks and the witty jabs. It’s all in good fun, and we all know it. We laugh or say something snarky, and it’s hilarious! And no one’s feelings are hurt. There is a line, though, that I feel like more and more people are crossing without even realizing it. They are letting the negative way we tease and play with each other influence the way we converse in ordinary conversation. It’s pessimistic, negative, and hurtful. We forget that there is a time and place for humor, poking fun, and laughter, but there is also a time and place for seriousness and positivity and lifting each other up.
I feel like my family is uniquely gifted in being able to champion one another. I think we are spoiled with how much we celebrate each other’s wins. We still laugh to this day about Abbey getting her college acceptance letters in the mail, and my mom, sister and I all jumping around the kitchen, screaming and crying and celebrating! We joke that we looked like Tyra’s family in Friday Night Lights when she was in that same situation. “We’re going to college!” All of us. We.
In culture, I think we have a hard time championing one another. I think we look at social media, and we look at our own lives, and we compare, compare, compare. We think we are missing out or are not good enough or are behind where we think we should be. So when a friend tells us about something great that happens to them (or honestly something really normal and average), we respond out of our feeling of inadequacy rather than out of joy for our friend.
We look at their win as our own loss.
We create environments where people feel like they can’t share good news out of fear for how others will respond. Sure, there is a time and a place and a tact that comes with this. But I want to see a culture shift. I want to see us become people who can champion their friends well. I want us to become people who can celebrate with joy and love and pride for our friends without feeling like it comes at our own expense. I want us to know when the time is right to laugh and tease and be silly and know when to put that away and be in the moment with love and grace and positivity!
My mom has talked a lot lately about the concept of staying in your lane. It comes from a book we read last summer called Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs. She writes that God has designed each of us to have a lane. It’s what He has created us for and what we are good at. It’s where we are supposed to be. We can’t thrive in somebody else’s lane. We are called to the lane God has us in, even if it feels like someone else’s is more fun or more fair, and we can’t be in our own lane if we are too busy trying to drive in someone else’s. This is profound. I want to be the kind of friend that celebrates the lane she is in and celebrates the lane my friends are in because I know God has called them to be there.
Obviously this isn’t the case 100% of the time. But I’ve seen it happen enough times to know it’s at the case at least some of the time. So I’m encouraging you to reflect on how you respond to your own friends and family. Actively seek to celebrate the wins. Period. Don’t let it be conditional. Be that friend that your friend can’t wait to call when they get that news that they are dying to share. Be the friend that loves well and celebrates extravagantly! I want to be part of that kind of change in culture, because I believe this is the kind of friend Jesus was.