Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Day 21: When a Friendship Feels Like an Attack {31 Days of Friendship}


When I was a young mom, my husband was shepherding a church. I had a job and friends at church. I felt blessed indeed. One gal* in particular was a good friend of mine. She was friendly and had children and sang in the choir. Her husband was the mayor of our town, so she had prestige and position. Everyone knew her and it seemed like everyone was her friend. She even loaned me maternity clothes when I got a teaching job while expecting, and she and her friends would invite me to scrapbook with them a couple times a month. Everything was great--until it wasn't.


To protect the very real people involved in this scenario, I am withholding specific details. Basically, what happened is this: My friend wrote me a very long email in which she wrongly accused me and my family of many things, and I was very, very hurt. At first. I wrote back right away (a strategy which is always a bad idea, by the way. Read Lysa TerKeurst's book Unglued if you struggle with this). Then I called this friend on the phone to demand an explanation, and she adamantly stuck by her story. She was incredulous that to me it came out of nowhere, because for her it was very real and was very obvious.

What's worse, this friend took all her friends into her confidence and left me alone.

But the thing is, I wasn't alone. I felt like I was alone, but I wasn't ever alone. My husband and I grew closer as we learned to support each other in this time of crisis. There were two ladies in the church who were aware of what was transpiring, and they stuck by me. Another older lady in the church figured out things were going badly, and she was praying for me behind the scenes. Two of my longtime friends who lived in other towns let me call them anytime to cry over my broken heart and my smashed feelings and awkwardness at work since there were connections with this group of women there. And my parents and sister were strong for me, praying for our family as we struggled to make sense of this attack on our family and ultimately our ministry.

Even when we feel like the world is against us, we are never truly alone.

In my brokenness, I turned to the Psalms. The music of Ginny Owens and Sara Groves was also dear to me during this time.

In looking back at this situation over many years, I can see a few things differently. The most difficult part of the emails I received from my ex-friend is that they did contain some truths. At the time it was hard for me to discern the truths from the falsehoods, and the facts from the exaggerations. It took many years, in fact, for me to determine that it was an unhealthy friendship from the start, and there were many things going on between the lines of those emails that I still don't know today. I was not faultless, either; I defended myself in the early days when I felt like I was being attacked, and the entire situation colored my view of that church and its members for a time.

It took me many years to learn how to forgive people who never asked for forgiveness, but eventually I did forgive my ex-friend and her other friends (one of whom did ask me for forgiveness right before we moved, which was a balm to my heart). I'll be writing more about forgiveness tomorrow.

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* No names are being used today (even Jane Austen names), and certain details are either changed or withheld for privacy.


You can go to the first day's post and find links to the rest of my #write31days #31daysoffriendship series by clicking here.

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