On Sundays this month we’re focusing on friendships. Last week we talked about the normality of shifts in your friendships (read about it here). This week we deal with your friend’s perspective–what she’s going through. On the third Sunday in July, we’ll talk about forgiveness and reconciliation. This subject hits so many of us, and I pray this series helps you!
Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
A dear friend once told me, don’t always assume people say or do things (or forget to say or do things) because they are rejecting you. She advised me to list three possible reasons a friend did what she did, all of which have absolutely nothing to do with me. Then she said to simply choose one and decide to believe it!
“But what if you’re wrong?” I asked.
She shrugged. “If I can’t think of what I’ve done to hurt her, and she won’t tell me, I can’t blame myself. Many times people are mad for unfounded reasons. Many times it’s their own insecurities or shame that’s the root of their behavior. They are just choosing to re-pin it on me. What good does it do for me to unearth all of that?”
Wow. Think of the power in that!
Paul tells the Ephesians not to hold on to bitterness. When someone has offended you, it’s easy to hold on to that offense and begin to obsess over the why’s and how’s. But through Paul, the Lord is reminding us that we are sealed for that day of redemption so that you are to build people up rather than think the worst of them (Ephesians 4:29-30). Stop the questions like “Why would she do that?” “Did I do anything to cause that?” Consider a range of possible reasons which have nothing to do with you. Allowing your friend some grace, helps the healing begin.
Okay, so your friend didn’t call you in your time of need. After searching yourself and owning up to your part, try some of these on for size. I call this my SHOTGUN list. Spray these shrapnel of reasoning at some of the baffling behaviors of friends who are grappling with your grief. See if one hits the target. Warning,: some of these reflect shallowness on her part—that isn’t the point. We are all sinners (Romans 3:23), and we cannot control that even your friends are all sinners and may simply not be up for the job during this season:
- S for Scared or Scarred – She is scared to death what happened to you could happen to her, and seeing you makes her think about that. Or perhaps your situation reminds her of a painful part of her past she hasn’t grappled with yet.
- H for Helpless (in other words, unable to help) – She’s feeling so awful about what you’re going through and doesn’t have the emotional strength to walk with you through it.
- O for Overwhelmed – She is going through something overwhelming in her life that she doesn’t want to burden you with.
- T for Trying to be Tactful (but missing) – She doesn’t want you to see her cry. She’s afraid everything she says and does will remind you of your loss. Perhaps she thinks you might be uncomfortable in the old circles of friends. She’s assuming you’d rather not be invited.
- G for Guilty – She secretly feels a little to blame for your situation.
- U for Unequipped – She doesn’t know what to say or do around you. She knows her strengths are in other areas, and she’s not suited for the job of lifting you through this valley.
- N for Not Invested – She’s perhaps not really about helping you. Until this tragedy happened, you provided something for her that she just isn’t able to get from your current situation. So she’s not going to invest.
Even if some of the reasons may not flatter your friend, the truth is, none of these have anything to do with something you said and did wrong. That’s what’s helpful about deciding what might fit. Naturally checking in with her helps, but there are times when a friend might be too uncomfortable to discuss these with you. Ask the Lord first, before approaching her.
And even now, as you first look at this list, turn to the Lord and ask Him to guide you along as you navigate the murky waters of your friendships under the strain of loss.
Dear Lord, can You help my sister see that her friends ache for her, and their reactions aren’t out of neglect or enmity. We are all sinners, and many times we are weak and don’t live up to who Christ made us to be. Praise You for bringing us friends who are strong enough to rise above their sinful natures and weather the storms along with her sister who is widowed. Amen
Kit Hinkle is the Founder and Ministry Lead for A New Season Ministries, Inc., and an author and speaker. She has lived through corporate careers as a chemical engineer and a management consultant, but now finds her finest career as a home school mother to four teen boys–one of them launched in college. She loves Pilates and her best friend’s Bosanova Christian yoga-style stretching, and craves more walks through the woods with her chocolate lab. Her dream is to live on the beach–and Charleston is just calling her! She knows what it means to be in a new season. She lost her first marriage to divorce when she was very young and lost her loving husband to a heart attack in 2007. To sit with another who is walking through her tough road and show that woman Christ, brings joy and fulfillment to Kit. It’s such an honor to participate in His kingdom.
If you are interested in having her speak, please contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other articles by this author: www.anewseason.net/author/khinkle
Would you like to read more about friendships? Here are some articles you might try:
Friendships by Erika Graham
Inviting Others into Your Healing Journey by Kit Hinkle