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  • Writer's pictureDoug Weiss

Lean on Me

The other day I spent an hour or so with a friend of mine who recently left a relatively secure position with a firm we had both worked for, and took the scary step of starting his own business. I felt a little responsible, because I encouraged him to pursue the idea of working for himself rather than spending his energies on finding the next job. You may think this rash of me considering that my friend is married and has a family. Fortunately, his wife is very supportive. Together they have embarked on this journey with both trepidation and a lot of faith.

When my friend called, I wasn’t sure what he wanted to talk about. It had been about 4 months since I had last seen him and at the time he was just getting started and had no business as yet. So, I was delighted when early in the conversation he told me that he had already landed four accounts, two of which had put his firm on retainer giving him enough business at this point to carry him through the next several months. My first reaction was Yes! I was relieved to hear he had already gotten off to a good start. I wasn’t surprised on one level, he is a talented guy and someone people instinctively like. But still, starting a new business with no customers in hand and just your reputation and skills working for you is not easy and when you have a family to provide for it takes some courage. Of course, I was delighted, but as we talked my friend confessed that at times he was inclined to worry, and his wife did as well, despite the early signs of success. It was true that the business had gotten off to a great start, but would that continue?

I understood instantly what my friend was feeling, you see I’ve been in that place more than once in my life and recently had gone through exactly the same kind of fretful worrying about my own future. Worrying about the future is a very human trait, and I am no wiser than the next fellow despite the fact that I have every reason to feel secure. I know that in spite of my own limitations, stupidity and bad judgement, my life has been blessed. You heard me, blessed.

Time and again I have taken the wrong turn in the road, made mistakes, leaned on my own judgement when I should have listened to the counsel of others, and especially listened for God’s voice. But I always landed on my feet, better off than I had been before, and that, I learned, had nothing to do with me, it had everything to do with him. Don’t mistake me, I don’t think I am someone special, I’m not. God does this for everyone, all the time, if they ask for his help. It is called grace. There but for his grace I would be who knows where, but I am not, and knowing that he has been the one who salvaged all my missteps and set me back on the path is a lesson I seem to forget from time to time.

Like my friend, there are times when having received God’s grace, I still lack the courage of my convictions. I wonder whether my good fortune is something he did, or just circumstance. My sense of trust, which should be strengthened immeasurably by the evidence of God’s love, is instead cast in doubt.

I told my friend exactly this, and encouraged him to step back from the worry. I don’t know whether his path is about this new business or something else. I am not a fortune teller. But I know God loves him and loves his faith, and whatever happens he and his family will be fine. I am not just saying that, I know. I know because each and every time in my life I have been at that place of doubt and fear, God has spoken. He has sent a friend, a message, an opportunity.

Now you might be asking, what does this have to do with relationships? I realize I often veer somewhat off the path of that topic in these posts, but not this time. Our relationships suffer from the same doubts and fears we express in our relation to God. On any given day, a cross word, a misunderstanding, or even something so small as a sense of distance between two people can plunge a loving relationship into a downward spiral of negativity. All at once, the good will and positive energy is transformed into irritation, anger or doubt, and the future can turn dark in an instant.

If this ever happens to you, and I hope that is never the case, I implore you, stop. Stop, take a deep breath, and think about all those times you were rescued from yourself, lifted up by God’s grace and given an opportunity to start anew. Stop projecting into the future, stop worrying about what might or might not happen—just live in that moment secure in the knowledge that you are loved, no matter what, that you are here by grace. When you have done that, extend that same grace to everyone around you, and you’ll find that your fears and doubts are gone, as ephemeral as mist in the air.

It would be easy for God to bless us with an untroubled existence, he is after all capable of anything. But knowing how we humans are, we would quickly forget how that came to be. We would start believing that we alone were the agents of our good fortune. We would attribute our talents and skills to our parents, our DNA, our education; any and everything but God. And, lacking all humility, we would forget that we are here by his grace alone. It’s not that God wants us to be dependent, he just wants us to remember that he is the only one we can lean on who will never let us down.

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