Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Good will toward men?


I wasn't going to post about this, but OneofsoMany recently said the following and it triggers a conflict currently burning inside me:


"I feel bad because I know I’ve tried to control him and direct his life. The intents were always good. I just want him to be and feel happy and help him through his struggles. It’s hard to back off and let him live and experience HIS life, make HIS choices and suffer HIS consequences. I try to always be there for him and hope he feels that I am, or at least try..."

I really can relate to this. Recently, Tim and I spoke about a situation that he's in where there are some money issues which has led to some debt that he needs to pay off. As a result, some of his plans for the near future may have to be put on hold - good plans, good things, righteous desires, etc.


Naturally, because of my close, brotherly relationship with him (and because I'm in love with him on several levels), I find my desires to get out my checkbook and write off his debts are almost overwhelming me. To his credit, he has begged me NOT to do this... And yet, here I sit wanting so much to run to his bank and make a deposit.


And I ask myself, why? Isn't it good to have friends to come to your aid in times of need? Aren't I trying to be helpful - is that bad? I don't want anything in return - I've even mentioned that for the sake of his pride, he could consider it a loan and pay me off when he's rich and famous.


But, he wants to learn and go through this and work his way out of it. So far, I've resisted the urges to step in and take away this learning opportunity from him - and it's hard - because I can. I have the means to step in and erase all his debts... and I want so much to do so.


So, do I step back and let my dear indescribable good friend "struggle", and be a good friend by just "being there"? Or do I bail him out? I mean, it's Christmastime, right? "Good will toward men" and all that good cheer?


And the really tough rhetorical question of the day: Do I feel this overwhelming desire to assist him out of his struggles and bail him out, not because of my love for him, but to help me ease my guilt because of my love for him???

18 comments:

playasinmar said...

Does it matter? Bail him out if he's a good friend and not a leach.

Beck said...

I think it does matter. What you suggest would be the easy thing to do - and I will probably do it just because I want to - but, should I when he has specifically requested me not to so that he can "learn the lessons of this experience"? Should I take away his self-worth?

Or is this pride just getting in his way of receiving and guilt getting in my way of giving good will?

playasinmar said...

It's the pride thing.

Ain't no man alive never needed charity.

kgwz77 said...

I remember a quote from a well to do man that was asked “what was the most difficult thing he had to do as a parent”. He answered "not buying his 18 years old son a new car." He stated that that he could pay cash for his son's dream car and could surprise him today but that it would deprive him of an important learning experience. I think that it speaks a lot about this man's character that he wants to work it out himself. It’s called tough love and it is about the hardest thing to do.

Anonymous said...

"Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day; teach a man to fish, and he'll eat for a lifetime" should not, in my opinion, be translated to mean that a man learning to fish should not be given fish to eat while he learns.

If your friend needs a fish to eat while he's learning, and you have a fish to give, then give your friend a fish -- and tell him that he doesn't have to go hungry while he's learning.

One of So Many said...

Regardless of intent or lack of need to get payback (quid pro quo I think?). Doing that creates a debt. Not so much a financial one but a social one. He will always feel beholden and obligated to you. It will not be a good thing for your friendship.

My friend once asked and I was happy to give. But the key thing is he asked. And has only ever asked once. I was happy to help but I know he had to swallow his pride to ask.

playasinmar said...

"Anonymous" is obviously "Tim." If he's willing to post his displeasure at taking the money then it's best to respect his wishes.

On an entirely unrelated note here's my favorite variation on the ol' fish saying:

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and lose a customer forever.

Beck said...

KGWZ77: The "tough love" scenario seems to play out more in a father-son relationship. I know that I've used that principle with my son and it is very hard to do when you want to do it for your child.

In a friendship setting, particularly one like Tim and I have, it isn't father-son - it's friends. I'm not buying him a car that he can earn himself - I'm just wanting to help.

Where does his self-worth cross over my desires to give help?

Beck said...

ANON: Thanks for the new twist on the old saying... we sometimes do need help along the way to get to the point where we can help ourselves. The welfare program of the Church functions on that very principle.

PLAYA: I strongly doubt - and would be surprised to the point of heart attach shock if ANON were "Tim", but good try.

Thanks for your twist on the saying as well: It makes me wonder if really I just want to "buy" his friendship and keep him "indebted" to me for a longer period of time than is naturally good for the both of us. Do I really want him as my "customer" to shower affection upon me? What kind of relationship is that?

Beck said...

OOSM: You've reached the point where I really was going with this. I HAVE helped him out significantly in the past at his request. We viewed that help as a "loan" to be payed back whenever, if ever - no strings attached - totally open ended. He humbly asked and he humbly accepted.

Now that I see this new situation, (and had to draw the facts out of him - he has been wronged by others, no wrong has been committed by his own doing - but that situation has brought about the debt in question), he does NOT ask for more assistance. He wants to do this on his own.

Yet, I told him: "Will you rob me of the blessings of giving?" He smiled and said: "You do what you have to do, but I'm asking that you don't".

Deep down, our friendship is not sound. As much as we openly profess our love and demonstrate our affection abundantly (some may say abnormally) for each other, it is founded on my "need" for affection and brotherly bonding with him in a semi-emotional /sexual /psychological way. I have shown my need for affection from him and uninhibitted attraction to him, but have not been open about my attraction issues as a whole.

Aren't I more than just the rich friend willing to give? Don't I want an indebtedness / bond to him that transcends friendship (now financial-social as you point out)so that I can still get my attraction / affection fix filled from him?

I do have altruistic motives for assisting him. I want him to be happy and successful and achieve all of his righteous goals and desires and for the most part, my motives end there for him and my love for him is pure and honest...

But, I can't help but think that deep down subconsciously, I need to buy his indebtedness for my own selfish needs... Oh, the tangled webs we weave!

Ron Schow said...

This sounds like quite a chunk of money. Is this an amount you can spend unbeknowns to your wife? Would it upset her if she knew?

Ron Schow said...

My experience with loaning or giving money to my children or others is that a modest reasonable gift I give without permission. When it comes to major decisions related to finance I never make the other person's decision. In other words, they must ask for it and/or accept it. Sometimes I offer before they ask, but they must accept it.

Beck said...

Leave it to Ron to get to the nitty-gritty details of the matter... Yes, it's a substantial amount and yet available to be handled discretely.

You would have to bring the "wife" thing into it, wouldn't you?...

I shake my head at the absurdity of my life. I really need to get a new life...

GeckoMan said...

Sorry to be entering the discussion late...I've been off sulking in an unemployed corner of the universe.

Well Beck, it sounds to me like you have answered your own question with at least three legitimate reasons not to bail out the momentary goodwill: 1) He has kindly asked you not to, 2) You are worried deep down about your own motives, 3) doing so would require going behind your wife's back.

A sound decision sounds kind of simple to me, but I'm not tone deaf. Is there a worthy charity of common interest you could donate to in your friend's name? Would he feel supported and gratified in this manner?

Beck said...

GECKO: My thoughts and prayers are with you for your future employment. I just pray that opportunities will follow you into a 2008 that you currently can't even imagine.

As for my situation - it's just pathetic. You've nailed the obvious three conclusions I've come to myself. And it is simple...

Yet, why is there such an urge to "help"? Why am I tormented by such a simple thing? Why am I constantly questioning my motives? When I do this, why do I begin to hate myself again?

MoHoHawaii said...

Your romantic interest in him complicates the situation quite a lot. It is usually ill-advised to give or lend money to the object of your desire, especially if the amount is "substantial."

Just my $0.02.

Beck said...

MOHOH: I guess I know the answer to my rhetorical question, otherwise I wouldn't have to ask. Ulterior motives, no matter how benevolent, aren't grounds for charity, especially when they are centered on "the object of my desires" that is misplaced or ill-advised at best...

*sigh*...

Parallel Mormon said...

Beck,

Be strong, pay not. Your friend made his decisions. Right now you are a source of moral strength to him; a handout can convert the relationship to one of baron and pauper. The only way he can learn to stay out of debt is to work out in his mind how, where and why he took those missteps. This takes time and is most effective during the sweat and toil of paying them off, however long that takes. This is why wisdom is priceless. If he could not, for example, buy shoes for his kids, offer to do so or do so anonymously. Pay off his debt today, and he could be in debt by tomorrow.