A few months ago I tried to speak with a friend about something troubling my heart. I felt a wedge growing between us and didn’t want it to be there. Maybe it was on my end, maybe it was on hers. Maybe it was both. Finding out seemed to be the most loving thing I could do. I believe that if a relationship is worth pursuing, worth keeping, then it’s worth investing in, even when it’s uncomfortable.
But my attempt toward openness, honesty and peace resulted in this person taking quite an offense. And in her offense she turned to hurtful words and spiteful comments. To say I was shocked would be an understatement, but more than that I was sad.
Not too long ago I made an honest attempt to clean out my personal Facebook page. Since my blog has continued to grow, the lines between personal and “business” became more and more blurry and I unknowingly had accepted the friend requests of numerous creepy dudes.
So, in order to remedy that, I made an announcement and picked a date that I would no longer keep anyone else on my personal account besides Matt’s family and mine. The night came and I sat down at my computer with a snack and some tea to start unfriending people…..and that lasted for about, oh…..4o seconds until I realized just how painful that was. It took no time at all to realize just how many people in my life mean so much to me, many of whom are closer to me than my actual literal family members.
Well stink…now what….
I immediately stopped deleting and I began combing through the remainder of names to get rid of the people I didn’t know or didn’t have friend a mutual friend. But, to this day, I still have no idea how many people I deleted in those first 40 seconds. I have no doubt, though, it was far too many.
I should never have done that. I was sad that night going to bed knowing I had purposely/accidentally deleted people I wished I hadn’t.
A few weeks went by and I received a surprising email from someone I’d deleted that night. She wasn’t accusatory, or unkind, she wasn’t mean or short with her words…she simply emailed to ask me if there was a reason or motive that I’d had in deleting her off my feed. She didn’t understand and asked if she’d done something to offend or hurt me and told me that she’d rather just ‘put it out there’ instead of worry or let her mind run with possibilities.
Wow. Just wow. Right?!
Not only does she strike me as mature and of sound-mind, but also as someone who genuinely cares and is the makings of a true friend. She didn’t assume the worst of me, she didn’t let her thoughts run rampant or allow her tongue to spew flames of gossip…she simply came straight to me to ask me directly.
This is the kind of person that encourages me to also be a better friend. This is how good relationships are built, and quite frankly, what makes good friendships grow.
Avoiding conflict isn’t the answer, pursuing one another is most loving.
There was not a single ounce of me that was offended at her asking me those questions. Not at all.
I was relieved, thankful, and so appreciative.
She pursued me. She gave me the chance to assure her that she had done absolutely nothing wrong. She allowed me the opportunity to right the perceived wrong.
I see her effort as nothing less than a gift to me. I asked her if it would be alright for me to share this story…because I think it’s worth celebrating…especially in light of how my first story ended.
Relationships are sometimes challenging, awkward, difficult or offensive. Sometimes we feel a tension or we feel something uncomfortable and we wonder if it’s worth speaking up about. We think that if we bring it up it’ll become a “big deal” or that maybe it’ll make things worse…it’s just so hard to predict the outcome.
Do I regret speaking up and asking my first ‘friend’ about the distance I thought was growing?
It would be easy to say I never should have spoken up in the first place…then there wouldn’t be the coldness I feel from/toward her now. But I also see that me speaking up simply revealed much deeper issues in the person I thought was my friend than I ever had been aware of, and I cannot take responsibility for her response. Had I just left it alone and pretended it wasn’t there I would have continued to invest in nothing more than a cardboard cut out store front.
Sometimes people only want to use you and take from you. And sometimes people only want what you have to offer them, not really you as a friend. And gosh that stings. But this simply reminds me of how often I do the same thing. I can’t say that I’m any different.
How often do I only want from God what he can give and not Him, the Giver?
I ask and I pray and my thoughts are filled with what I can request, yet how often do I just sit in His presence and enjoy Him, just Him. How often to I pursue His presence, His nearness? How often do I give Him the benefit of the doubt and trust that He is for me, not against? How often do I read my Bible looking for answers yet never allow the words to help me get to know Him, the creator and author of life?
I want to encourage you to pursue the people you love. Even though there is risk, if you love them they’re worth investing in. You can’t control the response…but that’s not your responsibility. With some it may get worse, and if it does you can grow and learn and pray and grieve and possibly pursue again another time….but with others it’ll only sweeten and deepen the friendship. Be a friend that cares enough to pursue. Be a friend that cares enough to respond with kindness and not venom.
I also want to encourage you to let challenging friendships drive you to Jesus. Let broken friendships be a reminder that He loves you and pursues you, just for you, and He is asking you to love and pursue Him too, just for Him. Spend time getting to know Him, not just what He gives.
But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works. Psalm 73:28