Spiritually Speaking

Question: I have a very dear friend who is always late when we agree to meet for dinner. She works a full time job and I know she is always at work on time. My problem is I am a diabetic and when we schedule our dinners I have told her time and time again that I must eat by a certain time. What am I to do?

She really is a good friend and I think she just thinks I’m a forgiving soul! Is there a gentle way to let her know that she must keep our time commitment? ~ Flustered Friend


Dear Flustered Friend,

I can certainly understand your frustration. I have had people in my life who have difficulty keeping time commitments.

With good friends, we tend to try to overlook and/or try to forgive their shortcomings, even when nothing seems to change. It’s not only aggravating; it can also weaken the quality of the relationship over time. Even though a “forgiving soul,” your forgiveness doesn’t mean having to tolerate ongoing lateness or condone inappropriate, inconsiderate behavior, especially when there are detrimental consequences to you.

We all have different limits (tolerance levels) of what we will allow in our relationships. You have to decide whether you have reached that limit or will continue to endure her repeated lateness. If you feel you can’t, it’s time to establish personal boundaries.

Boundaries help. It’s that dreaded word that can sound so harsh. Yet, boundaries need to exist in relationships for love to be true, genuine and purely motivated. Even the Bible talks about them.

Proverbs 25:17 (The Message version) states, “When you find a friend, don’t wear out your welcome; show up at all hours and he’ll soon get fed up.”

When boundaries are clearly communicated and held, they define your limits, help people understand your expectations, guard your well-being and can garner respect for you as a person, preserving your relationship.

You have a few choices. You can do things together that don’t involve food (going to movies and other events) or meet for coffee instead. If you want to continue to meet for meals, not only must you clearly communicate the time deadline, but also you need to let your friend know that if she isn’t there before that time you are going to order and start eating your food anyway. Although tempted to “fudge” on the time, you must uphold your boundaries so that your friend will know you mean what you say. You must also be willing to tell her “no” if she asks you to stretch those boundaries.

Preserving friendship is valuable, but not at the cost of your well-being or health. Hopefully, your friend will adapt, be more prompt and value you as a person, which will enhance your friendship.

Praying for a positive outcome,

Pastor Dabney Beck


Dear Flustered Friend,

Your friend obviously thinks that you are “forever forgiving.” Even telling her that you’re diabetic hasn’t changed her behavior. You mention she is a dear friend; however, dear and good friends treat one another with respect especially where commitments are concerned. Trust is an important aspect of friendships and relationships. When you agree on a time to meet for dinner, you may be concerned that yet again your friend won’t show up on time. Perhaps it’s time to avoid making dinner plans with her. Somehow she doesn’t realize that her actions are not in integrity. Doing what you say will do demonstrates integrity. Failing to do so signals you can’t be trusted to keep your word. You’re seen as unreliable. And still the issue is keeping and maintaining your relationship.

Given your physical condition, I suggest you give her a few minutes (as in five or 10) and if she still hasn’t arrived, order your dinner. Society has conditioned us to believe that we have to wait until all have arrived to order; however, when there are those who are chronically late, self-care is the issue.

I have a sister who when she was younger always showed up late for family gatherings. My mother began telling us to arrive at 1 p.m. even though she was really planning for food to be served at 2 p.m. Even with my mother telling everyone the earlier time, my sister did not show up until long after 2 p.m. It’s almost laughable because the rest of us did and I’m from a large family!

Rev. Dr. Beverly Craig


Question: My husband died shortly after our 50th wedding anniversary. He was 76. Before that, because we both were retired we traveled everywhere – most of the time on cruises. Now my kids want to take me on a cruise. Frankly, I’m “traveled out” and I just want to stay home and enjoy my grandchildren, my garden and my two dogs. Every time my kids come to visit they bring travel brochures even though I’ve told them I’m through traveling.

Is there a way, without disappointing them, to let them know “no more travels for me?” ~Now a Homebody


Dear Now a Homebody,

It is clear to me your children love you and are concerned for your happiness especially in light of the sad loss of your husband. They must have remembered how happy you were after a cruise and assumed that might be the best and most effective remedy to renew your spirits. However, as you pointed out, you’ve been there and done that, and it holds no further appeal. Convincing your children, without offending them, appears to be the issue.

There are two ways of handling this: a practical and a spiritual. We will discuss both. You can use either one exclusively or use them together. But I find the spiritual approach the most effective and it all takes place in your mind. But first the practical approach.

The practical approach is just to talk it out with them. But how this is done is the key to success. I once read the best way to approach a problem you have with another is to talk with them using four steps. The first step is to acknowledge the problem and/or issue and acknowledge their care and concern for you and use examples. Second, state your care, appreciation, gratitude and/or love for them as well as your appreciation and gratitude for their concern. Third, state your feelings and reasons on the matter of concern and how and why your choice makes you happy, and how their support for this would be most meaningful and appreciated. Finally, end with repeating the first two steps acknowledging your caring for and appreciation of them and their caring for you and your gratitude for that. You will be amazed how transformative these four simple conversational steps can be in bringing about a positive change.

The second approach is the spiritual. With this approach, all that is needed to resolve any problem outside of you is to resolve it inside yourself. You can do it within your own mind, using your own consciousness and your own thought. Ernest Holmes, author of the Science of Mind, once said that the outer world reflects back to us what we think, feel or imagine inside of ourselves. So the root or origin of any problem we experience, as well as its solution, always lies within; and it is there we can most effectively deal with and change it. Dr. Holmes also said that by changing your thinking you change your life. So in reality, the only person who needs a talking to about any problem or issue you are experiencing is yourself. Other people (i.e., those outside of us) will always reflect back to you the changes you inwardly choose and accept for yourself, be they good or bad.

So it is better to choose your good. The question is how do we do this and why does it work? Well, that would require patience. But there is a simple way to begin changing your situation and that is with the use of affirmative prayer.

Affirmative prayer is not the begging prayer we are so often taught. It is a commanding prayer. As Rev. Ike (one of my favorites) once said: “You have to get definite with the Infinite.” Here is a simple affirmative prayer you can use to bring about a healing in your situation. Say it at least once a day and repeat it whenever you feel doubtful, irritated, angry, fearful or challenged over this issue. It will work miracles.

“I give thanks for the blessing of my family, for their love and for their caring. I give thanks for the peace, harmony, acceptance, goodwill and understanding that exist between us. I know that my wishes and my choices for my own happiness, whatever those may be, are always recognized, honored and supported by them with perfect ease and grace, and with perfect peace of mind for all. And so it is. Amen.”

Anthony Kelson, RScP.


Dear Now a Homebody,

Travel is a funny thing. It isn’t equally attractive all the days of your life. Travel is really best when you are still able to easily walk long distances, climb endless stairs and have what is known as wanderlust. That is the desire to go and see and connect and expand.

Generally speaking, by the time our 80s have rolled around that ship has sailed. Pun intended.

At a certain point in our life’s journey we want to savor “regular life” as my 86-year-old singing teacher used to say when explaining what he liked to do: the beautiful place we call home, the people and animals in our everyday lives, the familiar foods we have come to rely on to nourish our bodies in predictable ways and give comfort in their familiarity.

We are not seeking new vistas at this stage. The time has come to go deep, not far and wide.

Explain to your well-meaning children that you are not searching for new civilizations and fascinating unknown corners of the world but rather the sweet assurance of what you already know and love.

Why don’t you suggest that the kids go on their own and come back with pictures and stories and wonderful things they learned in the new places they have discovered? Keep having fun with your grandchildren, your garden and your dogs. Make every day as special as it can be. Thank them for listening to what makes sense for you while thanking them for their good intentions. If you are sincere and honest, they will finally hear you and understand that you are not looking to travel but to live the beautiful life you have engineered for yourself and full of the lovely memories you have made.

Rabbi Janet Bieber