Freeing the Heart for Growth & Health

“Learn to keep your friends close and your enemy’s closer…” — Attila the Hun

Attending an evening function at an annual convention, my wife and I were sitting at the dinner table conversing with a few colleagues catching up on the latest since we usually do not see these people, but once or twice a year. As I talked with the person sitting across from me (we shall call him by the name of Jim, not his real name), I brought up a mutual friend who had suffered a serious health issue a short time back, asking how he was doing. Although I had seen this mutual friend in one of our previous daily meetings I had not had a chance to speak to him personally. His face however, was telling. There was something going on, which his face was unable to hide for he had a grimaced look of agitation and anguish, and though I didn’t get to talk with him, I did get close enough to feel the negative energy. It was as if a dark cloud surrounded him and this negative energy was having an adverse effect on his physical countenance as well as his health. It could easily be seen on his face.

Jim began to share what was going on with both he and the other person. He then said he agreed with my observation stating that he and this other person were where I had been some years previous. What I mean by this is they were experiencing the same interactions with the same people as I had those many years ago. The only difference was I did not seem to be adversely affected by the whole incident. He continued by stating he and others were amazed at how I had handled it all so well. I responded in three parts:

First, I believed everything happens for a reason and it is our response to what happens that makes the difference. You have read the next statement many times in these insights yet it bears repeating: Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% your response.

The second part of my response was to repeat what Attila the Hun said: Keep your friends close and – I paused allowing this pregnant statement to hang there for a moment. He looked at me wondering when I was going to continue when both his wife and mine said, “your enemies closer.” He then looked at all of us kind of funny. I responded to his look by telling him, “If you feel someone is your enemy then exercise the wisdom to stay close enough to know what is going on.”

Thirdly I said I felt the one who might be thought of as the enemy is often not the enemy; for if we stay close enough we often find the person we believed to be wrong was only doing what they believed to be right; at least ‘in their eyes and from their perspective.’ I continued saying what this shows us is there are two sides to every story. Further I said, I believed the motive of the person they had issue with may not look and feel right, but I felt this person was only trying to keep things from going too far to the right or the left. I continued by saying I thought he believed he had a better handle on what was going on in the organization than anyone else seeing as how he lived with it every day. No one else did as any others involved in the organization were busy focusing on other own businesses.

In wrapping up the conversation I said, it is in this application I have come to believe the statement of keeping your friends close and enemies closer to be of real value; for I found we cannot grow unless or until we take a look at the situation from the other person’s viewpoint. I found it helped to believe God allows things to happen whether they are bad or good as this forces us to learn to deal with these tough situations and again it is our response to these tough situations that determines whether we rise to the next level or stay where we are only to be tested again. An improper response will have us carrying the awful weight of bitterness and anguish, which will adversely affect our health. It will also cause our focus to become skewed in a way where we are torn between what we should be doing and that which has our attention because of the bitterness in our hearts.

I contend life is too short to let the small things take your happiness away and they will unless you learn to let these small, petty things go. It is a sign of growth and maturity to recognize we may not all agree on every item. It is also a sign of maturity to know that is OK. I have been married just over four decades. In that time I have found our disagreements to be as important as our agreements for I now see how the disagreements, through the proper response, were able to have a positive rather than a negative effect in and on my life. This positive effect has greatly helped me to grow. Once I learned to respect the other person’s opinions then it did not matter whether they always agreed with my way or not. As a matter of fact, I found it did not matter whether I was right all the time or not. If everyone was always in agreement then surely everyone one of us isn’t necessary.

As Jim Rohn said, “Let others lead small lives, but not you. Let others argue over small things, but not you. Let others cry over small hurts, but not you. Let others leave their future in someone else’s hands, but not you.” You do this when you allow others who have mistreated or maligned you in some way to get under your skin and thus become the object of your anger and bitterness. For the truth is, if you cannot let yesterdays hurts go, you are letting someone else run your life. The question is, what are you going to do about that? The answer should be obvious.

Best of LUCK as you
Labor Under Correct Knowledge…


Rick Cox