Today I’m thinking a lot about influence, specifically my own. It’s hard to write or even think about it without sounding full of myself, but in its own way, this is more humbling than almost anything else in my life.
See, somehow I’ve found myself at the heart of one particular group of friends. I’m still not quite sure how it happened. I knew that people liked me, and I like to have people like me, but I didn’t think I was that important. One day I got really angry with one of the guys in the group. I don’t get really angry all that often. I didn’t talk about this or share it with the group. It didn’t occur to me that other people might notice. Then my best friend pulled me aside and told me that I had to forgive this guy, and I had to be seen to forgive him, because other people were starting to exclude him because I was mad at him.
This totally astonished me. Why would anyone care who I was mad at? Why would anyone even notice? They would exclude someone without even knowing why I was mad at him? It just didn’t make sense to me. My friend told me that, like it or not, I was the heart of our group, and people noticed and cared what I did and who I liked and didn’t like. So what could I do? I forgave the guy, and did my best to make nice with him when I saw him after that. But it was still intensely weird to me that my actions and attitudes would matter that much.
Last night I found myself on the phone with a friend who had behaved very badly to another friend. It’s all one big mess of one person’s immaturity getting compounded by another’s, and words said in anger being repeated to people who were never supposed to hear them. There’s a guy involved too, which makes it all the more Drama. I got pulled in, not because I was really part of the original situation, but because of my unique position in the group. (Believe it or not, we’ve never actually had a situation like this in our group before. I think most of the women in our group have just always loved each other too much to let a guy chosing one or another of us get in the way of our friendships.)
Anyway, for my friend part of the agony of the whole situation is not just the pain that led her to do what she did, but how public it’s become. It’s not enough that she knows that she behaved badly, but now it seems like the whole world knows that she did. In particular, she didn’t want me to know. She was telling me how much other people respect my judgment, that they pay attention to who I like and don’t like. She said that I’m that one person whom people really want to have think well of them, that they would do just about anything rather than disappoint me.
Maybe she was trying to flatter me, but she doesn’t know how heavy those words of hers are. I am a screw up and a sinner, and I’m wrong so much about so many things! My shoulders are not broad enough to carry this weight. I love my friends. I’m honored by their respect. I never wanted to have this much influence over their lives. Some crosses come in very funny shapes and sizes! But God’s put me here for a reason. He’s given me this influence for a reason. If it’s His will that I love this group of people at this time, then I’ll do that the best I can, and accept whatever consequences come.