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I can guess your answer. That’s an easy one because we probably all have the same answer. We have all experienced Friendship PTSD (friendship post-traumatic stress disorder). We are all broken and wounded.
Did a particular person come to mind when I asked that question? Maybe a specific time when you were hurt?
Yeah, I did the same thing – until …
Now I have gained a different point of view.
Now my mind will hopefully go to a more biblical place when Friendship PTSD strikes – again.
Lisa-Jo says, “We’re good at recognizing our own hurts but we can sometimes have a blind spot when it comes to how we’ve hurt other people.”
Ouch. But true.
Who do I think about more? Me or them?
What if I were to reverse that?
What if, instead of wallowing in my own hurt, I thought about the people I’ve hurt? Would that make me more forgiving of those who hurt me?
Yes! I’ve already tried it. It makes me think about how I truly hope that others will forgive me when I do or say stupid stuff.
I know, I know – I came out swinging today, didn’t I?
Let me back up a bit. Because this Bible study wasn’t “swinging” at all! It was so very kind and understanding.
Our entire group fell in love with Lisa-Jo – and Deidra, Kristen, Alia Joy and Aliza (who were sitting around the table on the videos). We seriously wanted to invite them all over!
Here’s how the book starts out: “Why should you do a Bible study about friendship? Because I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want friends. But I know lots of women who worry about being unfriended. Or misunderstood. Or hurt or judged or left out or taken for granted by their friends. I’m one of them. So they stop trying. They stop risking. They stop starting over. Because they’ve stopped believing there’ll be a seat saved for them at the table.”
To further answer that question, later she says, “If ever there was a handbook on how to negotiate hard relationships and create fresh starts, it’s the Bible. The chief theme of the entire Bible is reconciliation of unsafe relationships. First, between us and God. And second between us and the other people God has created.”
And I am always up for finding out what the Bible says!
Lisa observes, “God was faced with the same dilemma that we are faced with in our relationships in a fallen world: Do I keep them, or do I move on? … That He understands my tender scabs where friendships have cut and where I haven’t been able to put things back together again. I’m amazed that the God of the universe and I share the same aching cry that sometimes comes out as a whimper and sometimes as a gut cry of confusion, ‘I have been hurt.'”
Ezekiel 6:9 NLT: Then when they are exiled among the nations, they will remember me. They will recognize how hurt I am by their unfaithful hearts and lustful eyes that long for their idols. Then at last they will hate themselves for all their detestable sins.
It was comforting for me to realize that God truly gets it. “From the inside out He knows what a betrayal by a friend feels like. And His pain can be heard loudly from the pages of both the Old and the New Testaments. If He’s our role model in His hurt then He can also be trusted as our role model in how to respond.”
Philippians 2:3-5 CSB: Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.
So exactly how did our Role Model respond?
“Jesus, the God-man who had more reason to hate, resent, and nurture bitterness than any of us, constantly, deliberately, ruthlessly loved those who hurt Him and consistently chose love over the easier choice of hate. Are we brave enough to follow in Jesus’ footsteps?”
Luke 23:34: And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” And they cast lots to divide his garments.
But are you wondering what I’m wondering?
As a Christian, are there ever times when it’s okay to walk away from a friendship?
The book spends a whole week (3 days of homework per week) wisely covering the answer to that question.
Quick answer – it’s complicated. And it requires a long period (not a quick answer) of seeking wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
But I’ll give you a sampling. Lisa points out, “Here’s where it gets tricky. As Christians we’re taught that it’s a good thing to be willing to “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ: (Galatians 6:2). But, if we aren’t careful, that can guilt us into putting up with a lot of behavior that is harmful to us. Because being willing to “bear one another’s burdens” is not the same thing as being willing to bear one another’s dysfunction, rage, inappropriate behavior, manipulation, passive aggression, cruelty, control, and a whole host of other traits that we can inhale like secondhand smoke in some friendships without even being aware of it.”
But Lisa reminds us that while sometimes separation is necessary, the hope is always that it isn’t permanent.
She says, “I believe if it were up to him, Satan would like nothing more than to see all us women infected by our past hurts and the grudges we lug around with us. If it were up to Satan, he would strap all our failed friendships and all those times our trust was disappointed onto our backs and have us carry them into every conversation, tender connection, and new interaction, into every Bible study and book club, and into every girls’ night out.”
John 10:10: The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
What kind of life did Jesus come to give us?
“As much as He understands life and generosity, if anyone understands friendship betrayal, it is also Jesus. Betrayed by one of His own disciples and disowned by His closest friends, Jesus’ wounds are real. They are raw. But Jesus won’t let us stop there. He won’t let us live in the place where we’re the victim constantly pointing fingers. No, He wants us to follow in His wounded footsteps, to the place where we are willing to forgive, because it’s the only way to live.”
1 Peter 2:21: For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.
My favorite quote from this Bible study is: “Jesus was constantly loving beyond the borders of what we can ever begin to imagine. His love was lavish, unafraid, and extravagant. He opened His heart and His life to the people who loved Him back as well as to those who spit in His face. That kind of love will wrench you. It will wring you out. It will require more of you than you thought possible. But it will drive you deep into Jesus’ side until His feelings become your feelings and together you might just find a miracle – the dry bones of a dead friendship coming back to life.”
That’s what we want! Anything that will drive us deep into Jesus’ side until His feelings become our feelings.
Philippians 2:13 NLT: For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.
We can’t do it on our own. That’s why there is a whole chapter titled: Ask God for a heart transplant.
Ezekiel 36:26:And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
He wants to give us a new heart!
I’ll take it!
I need it!
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