This I know, that God is for me.
~ Psalm 56:9b
Once upon a time, a long, long, time ago, Beth Moore and I were best friends.
Each time she’d release a new Bible study, I was in the front row absorbing Jesus (in somebody’s living room), a thirsty sponge soaking up words. And, sure enough, at some point during every study I was certain she was knocking around inside my head. There was always a good Word just for me.
If I’m remembering correctly, it was Beth who first challenged me to “tell on” people by pouring out my list of slights and offensives straight to God — not my husband or best girlfriend, and certainly not my Sunday school prayer chain.
Are prayer chains still even a thing?
Years have gone by since I first heard that wise counsel, and yet it remains a temptation to “tell on” others to others when I’ve been wronged. It feels good for my friends to agree with me, to take my side, to believe my point of view is the right one, to sympathize and empathize with my pain.
But one thing I’ve learned for sure when you have opposite sides of a story: the truth lies somewhere in between.
Whether between two friends, or among diametrically opposed groups,
there’s your side of the story and their side of the story,
and the truth sits somewhere in the middle.
We can’t escape our humanity though, can we? We’re human and our feelings get hurt. It is one of God’s generous gifts to man that He lived as a man, so He can relate as a man, and understand emotional pain and suffering from the inside out.
While sometimes people are rude or cruel on purpose, it’s just as likely they aren’t even aware. They don’t even realize your heart has been bruised by their words or actions. Or maybe it’s sins of omission — it is what they don’t say or do that hurts.
I find this especially relevant in a faith-conference culture, where authors, bloggers, speakers, and musicians are accessible through their online formats. As readers and followers, we may engage on our end, and if reciprocated, it might feel like a real (albeit online) friendship. Yet, when given real life opportunity to pursue deeper relationship, the object of your friendship-affection never makes time to be with you. If you’ve been brave enough to initiate getting together, that can feel like a real snub. Of course, this can also happen right in your back yard — at work, on the soccer sidelines, or worst of all, at church.
The hard reality to accept is maybe your “friend” doesn’t know you’re friends. Real friends don’t have to jockey for position. Real friends respond to texts, emails, or messages. They reach out first. They might even know your birthday without Facebook telling them.
Might I offer you a tender word of advice?
Don’t keep fighting for a place in a person’s life. When she cares about and values you as much as you do her, she will always save a place for you.
Read that again. And again. As many times as necessary to let go of one-sided friendships that undermine your personal value or assault your heart.
It’s painful when someone once close to you disappears. I’ve had women, with whom I’ve shared secrets and life, ghost me with no explanation. It is rare, but sometimes they do have reasons they’re willing to share. Whether or not I agree with their rationale is irrelevant; it doesn’t matter if they took something I said or did in a way I never intended. Their hurt is just as real to them as mine is when the shoe is on the other foot.
I was bowled over by a quote from comedian Louis C.K. of all people:
When a person tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.
Wow. Simple, profound . . . and true. It’s not about our intentions, it’s about the impact of our actions on others.
One day I was spiraling downward into one of those dangerous friendship-pity parties, the kind birthed from being marginalized, ignored, or plain forgotten. But also the kind based on pure conjecture . . . make-believe. My first thought was to reach out to a friend who would understand, who would shake her head in sympathy, and do everything she could to make me feel loved, known, accepted, remembered, and valued. But I stopped myself, literally thinking of my bestie Beth Moore, and I started whining to God instead.
I dropped to my knees, earnestly begging, tired of falling prey to the enemy of my heart over this particular relationship. I offered the list of offenses to God and said out loud, “WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT…?”
And, immediately, incredibly, God in His graciousness told me exactly what to “do.”
Three commands that challenged and healed me, not only in that moment but in similar instances since, when I’m tempted to trash-talk someone who’s hurt my feelings:
- You Forgive Her. (Colossians 3:13, Matthew 6:14-15, Ephesians 4:29-32, Daniel 9:9)
- You Love Her. (1 John 4:7, Proverbs 10:12, Romans 5:8, 1 John 3:16-18, Matthew 22:37-39)
- You Be For Her. (Romans 8:31-39, Psalm 56:9)
God wasn’t only telling me what I already knew, He was reminding me what He has already done for me, over and over and over.
When you’re young, friendship comes naturally (of course, hot pink Hello Kitty cowboy boots might encourage a quick connection.) I was actually so arrogant for a while I didn’t believe I needed women in my life. Somewhere along the way it seems to get more complicated.
Lovies, remember who you are (chosen, adopted, loved, forgiven, redeemed, known), and more importantly Whose you are (John 1:12). One of the easiest ways the enemy of your heart can make you forget is through fractured friendships. If you’re hurting right now, I am so, so sorry. It’s hard to believe you’ll make it to the other side sometimes.
But forgiving, loving, and being for the people in your life who’ve hurt you brings freedom and peace.
And isn’t that the way of Christ?