Jan and I were talking about friendship. In our conversation, Jan said something profound. “A measure of true friendship is the ability to share another person’s joy.”
Everyone suffers in life, so identifying with another person’s pain can be shared more readily. Joy is different. It is not a shared human experience. Those who do not have joy will many times withdraw from what should be a shared joyful experience with another person, even from those who considered the relationship a friendship. Some people we thought were friends who gathered around us in a time of sorrow or loss may someday create distance between us when our sadness is replaced with joy or our lack is filled with abundance. We really do not know the depth of friendship until it is tested by both sorrow and joy.
People can have strange reactions to what they have not experienced. In some cases, another person’s joy can be interpreted as a judgment on their joyless life. In that unhealthy way of thinking, they will struggle with sharing a friend’s happiness. In the struggle, they don’t want to have a reminder of what they lack. Regular points of contact are avoided. Phone calls aren’t returned, or the person simply disappears. When this happens, we need to reach out and try to touch these friends who are now MIA.
In the sadness of what is taking place, avoid any partnership with a spirit of offense. The withdrawal is not personal. As far as it is possible with you, invite them into your joy and let them taste the goodness of God. Hopefully, they will begin to understand that another person’s joy should bring us together, never tear us apart.