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One person whom I had recently come to think of as a friend has me reconsidering our relationship.

As women friends do, we have shared a lot of our stories with each other, and spoken authentically about our hopes and fears.

But now I hear my own words or actions echoed back to me in the sense of, "This is who you are." Or, even worse, "You always...." I feel that I have been judged and found wanting. "You did this and it means that you're that kind of person." One swallow does not make a summer.

We differ in our views on race, and she is sure she is absolutely right, because she lived and worked in a community of color. What?? She's the only person to have done so, and I just fell off the turnip truck? What gives her the authority to pronounce The Truth and be critical of me?

Well, of course I'm not the person I want to be, but my view is that friends are gentle, not judgmental. We give each other room to grow and to change. Setting up a reality (This is Who You Are) is not accepting and loving, at least it doesn't seem that way to me.

I want to be accepted, not challenged.

At the end of Joys and Sorrows our minister always exhorts us to greet one another with gentleness and compassion, because we never know what burdens and sorrows another person carries.

In the future, my friend and I will continue to spend time in each other's company, but I will more than likely keep my thoughts and ideas to myself, especially in areas where she reacts in a highly emotional way, no room for discussion, exploration of possibilities. And most especially in areas where I am hurt and seeking to heal.

She is who she is, and that's fine with me, now that I understand and can establish the boundary. We're friendly, but not friends.

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