How is character produced in a person? Generally we would think that tough times produce endurance and character. But the same hardships that produce a stronger person can also produce a cynical, weak, or bitter person. So what’s the difference? How can we be sure that a difficult situation will produce good fruit?
This concept is slowly being revealed to me through my weekly small group of friends from church, teachings at LIQUID, and also a leadership class. These things are causing me to look back over my life at certain situations and notice a trend of character-building and the fact that character is not built in isolation, but rather it is built in a community of healthy relationships.
Bad situations come in many forms: a traumatic event, a continually difficult relationship or environment, or a bad habit we can’t kick. Each of things require processing to build character in us. But since most situations are also emotionally difficult, it can be challenging to process in a way that is not distorted or warped in some way. The lens that we look at these situations through is biased toward our own perspective.
As we allow others into our world, they can see things more objectively. They may or may not be able to understand every specific emotion, thought, or struggle that your situation causes. But what they can offer you is an outside perspective on things. If you make it known to them that you truly want healing and character, asking for the honest truth, they can certainly help you in a much more constructive way.
It’s been said that who you are is the sum of the five people that are closest to you. The type of friends we choose becomes extremely important when going through a difficult situation. The people that you look to for support are going to download a little bit of themselves into you. How they choose to help you will affect how you heal. For instance, in many difficult situations there is a choice between forgiveness or revenge. If you’re in isolation, or you have the wrong friends, it can be difficult to choose the higher road, because the low road often feels better in the short term.
Having good community will helps build good character. Friends can help you navigate clearly through hazy and difficult situations that might otherwise seem completely hopeless.