Then Jesus said…, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.”
John 5:8 (NIV)
And just like that—one of my closest friends stepped out of my life.
I thought I would be the only widow to say that until I heard it from about a zillion other widows—many here on our pages.
The break happened years ago, and I can happily say she and I have reconciled and forgiven each other. Who knows if we’ll ever restore the trust we had before, but at least we’re able to laugh and share memories.
But those feelings of betrayal and abandonment–goodness, they hit me like a second grief. I stopped everything and cried my eyes out while she went on with her happy life, surrounded by her entourage of friends I no longer had time to hang with. While she held her girls-night-outings without me, I was busy raising my boys by myself. At the time I didn’t know why it bothered me—it wasn’t like I had time to socialize anyway.
On the other hand, I now know why it bothered me–old scars from high school. I was one of those independent types who wondered why I seemed to avoid the deemed “in-crowd” while my sister pranced about in her cheerleading outfit–near the center of attention from that same crowd. I would have been fine with my own nature, academics, if it weren’t for subtle comparisons made between us by well-meaning folks. It takes time and maturity to see standing apart from the crowd as a good thing. Seeing it now doesn’t erase the memory of that feeling I had as a girl wondering why I simply didn’t run with the popular crowd like my sister did.
That feeling got triggered many times during those early days as a single mom. Without a social life and without a husband to boost my confidence, I would sit and mutter over my queen-bee friend’s abandonment. How dare she? Why do I care? Why can’t I be the queen-bee? Why does being the lonely widow feel like the one who chose not to hang with the cheerleaders?
When you’ve been kicked in the shins and you’re down and lonely, you start to think and reflect. Sometimes Satan has a heyday with that thinking and you come up with some ridiculous notion that you’ll always be stuck with whatever hardship life threw at you as a child.
I was taking those feelings of the academic kid not hanging with the popular crowd and applying it to the single mom not running about with my queen-bee’s friends crowd.
This is called victim mentality, and the enemy loves digging this knife in you. You’ll twist about, taking that pattern of whatever seems to have happened yet again and applying it to every example in your life you can think about.
Unless you pick up your mat and walk.
When Jesus heeled a paralyzed man, he didn’t dwell on why he was paralyzed. He didn’t have the man lay on the mat for a while and reflect on how much it hurt. He commanded the man to pick up the mat and walk.
And that’s exactly how I was able to forgive and redeem at least a light friendship with my queen-bee friend. I stopped laying on my “mat” of abandonment and sorrow. My friend did something unkind, but I didn’t need to be unkind back. I could even forgive. And I could get up and start anew. Once I freed myself from any bitterness, I could even relax and enjoy her. I choose not to engage too much with her because I’ve learned where her limits are. And besides, since then I’ve made many new friends who are far more faithful and trustworthy.
Be healed. Walk healed. Christ calls us to be redeemed. To be born again. To begin anew.
Staring at your mat only holds you back.
All it takes is a word from You, and the widow reading this can be healed. Point her forward, not backwards. Show her what You have in store for her, and give her the healing and strength to pick up her mat and walk. Amen
Kit Hinkle is an author and speaker. She was an original writer of A Widow’s Might in 2008, and after four years with that ministry, expanded it and founded A New Season Ministries, Inc. Once the ministry became established, she turned the leadership over, yet continues to contribute articles while she focuses on her finest career as a mother to two high school boys, two boys in college, and a grown son and daughter whom she helped her husband raise before he passed away. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now enjoys walks on the beach with her chocolate lab. She loves to sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ. It’s an honor to participate in His kingdom.
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