DEAR AMY: I'm wondering how to balance friendship and faith with a business transaction that has gone bad. I loaned several hundred thousand dollars to a longtime friend, as his business was struggling and he was going through a divorce. We agreed on standard documentation and precise payment terms. He has paid only part of the loan back, and the nonpayment is creating financial issues for me. We are both Christians, and I want to follow biblical mandates (as I see them) that require people to lend when asked. I also want to be a good friend. However, although my friend says that he feels bad about the situation, he does not seem to be prioritizing repayment or making wise financial decisions. For example, he and his business have incurred new expenses recently that I view as unnecessary. Would you consider the friendship over and treat this as a purely financial transaction? Or would you continue to cut him some slack? I see no reason to harm my own financial situation due to a friend's bad choices, but I don't want to be unfair or cruel to someone.
A Remorseful Lender
DEAR REMORSEFUL: You frame your question by asking what I would do. But nothing in my own faith practice (or bank account) would enable this sort of extreme lending. If I want to and can afford to, I give, versus lend. Not to put too fine a point on it, but bailing out your friend has resulted in financial hardship for you, and has also enabled him to persist in believing the fiction that he runs a successful business. As you point out, he is not running a successful business. So — except for delaying the inevitable — how have you actually helped him? Now you have fewer assets to put toward doing good works, taking care of family members, helping those in dire need, contributing to charity (and, of course, your own church community). Imagine how many hungry mouths your thousands could feed, how many schoolbooks it could buy, how many church missions it could fund …? Instead, your kindness and generosity has resulted in lost assets, enabling your friend's mistakes, and, likely, a lost friendship. This is not your fault (it is his); your own choice, however, is your responsibility. Perhaps you should have chosen to follow a Shakespearean (instead of a biblical) mandate: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be … For loan oft loses both itself and friend." Your lawyer or the courts might be able to tease out more payments and/or a stake in your friend's company. You should explore the work, wit and wisdom of Dave Ramsey, whose financial advice is both practical and Christian-focused. You would benefit from reading his book, "The Legacy Journey: A Radical View of Biblical Wealth and Generosity," (2014, Ramsey Press).
DEAR AMY: I couldn't use my regular subscription opera ticket, so I gave the ticket to my opera companion to give to a mutual acquaintance at our church. I've seen that acquaintance several times since then and she has my phone and email address for communication about church matters, and she has not said thank you. The ticket was fairly expensive. Should I say anything to her?
DEAR K: Your opera ticket may have been bestowed upon your church friend like so much manna from heaven — and she might not be fully aware of the source. If your opera companion gave her the ticket, your role in this might have eluded the recipient. People who purchase subscriptions to theater seasons know how valuable individual tickets are, but someone less familiar might simply think that this ticket was "extra." Ideally, you shouldn't have to nudge this acknowledgment along, but you should email your acquaintance to say, "I've seen you a few times, but I keep forgetting to ask you — how was your evening at the opera? I was so sorry to miss the production, but I am happy you could use my ticket."
DEAR AMY: "Bothered" had a neighbor/tenant whose early morning microwave jolted her awake. When it comes to noise, from housemates, roommates, spouses, or the newspaper delivery person playing loud music at 5 a.m. — get thee to a drugstore and get a white noise machine. Pure bliss. Even my galloping-herd-of-elephants spouse went about his noisy routines and I never heard a peep.
DEAR BLISSED: It wouldn't have occurred to me that one kind of noise would cancel out another kind of noise, but many readers have recommended white noise machines.