For instance, this past week, I really had a problem, I felt, with a neighbor who expected more of me that I had time or patience to give. I respect this person, I sympathize with him, and I have helped him many times. In his own way, he tries to return the favors. But his way of returning is financial and doesn't drain his resources. My favors to him, however, involve my very limited time and labor and even some of my own limited resources.
Instead of talking to him about it, face to face, I left vague messages on his phone, making excuses for not getting to see him.
Finally, he was wiser and more forthright than I had the courage to be. He called me, directly, no voice mail, and asked me outright, "Are you mad at me?"
Wow. So easy. I told him that, yes, I was, and explained why. I told him I had evaded him because I didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him that his expectations, friendship-wise, were making me feel trapped.
He was so good about everything, explaining he never meant for me to feel like that and that he never wanted to cause me any more stress than I already have. So simple; so easy. We are still friends, and we both want it that way.
So, why couldn't I have de-fused the situation earlier, myself?
Dear God, please, please fill me with the gifts of the Spirit, so that I might have the fortitude and courage to face situations that might be unpleasant but necessary.