Has it happened to you?

You were once in the inner circle of someone’s life and everything abruptly changed. Not the kind of change where you just lose contact over the years. The kind of change where, all of a sudden, your friend says, “I’m done.”

I have had lots of friendships in my life and some were God centered, others not so much. This relationship was a special kind of friendship, a “BFF” kind of friendship. It was based upon mutual trust and community as believers in Christ. I never imagined losing my friend. I truly thought I had made a friend for life.

But I was wrong.

We both were weathering major changes and conflicts within our church body. My husband was pastoring the church at the time, when a small group of people decided they no longer wanted my husband to be the pastor of “their church.” This group was working very hard to accomplish his removal.

The struggle ushered in storms and tough times for everyone involved. As I surveyed the wreckage, everyone was working through the aftermath in their own way. It began affecting my relationship with my closest friend, who had been a co-laborer within the church. She was ready to get away from the storm, even if it meant getting away from me.

She was done with our friendship because the situation was too much.

It was true. The situation was uncomfortable to say the least. I honestly knew things were rough, but I thought the friendship was worth the sacrifice of working through the hard times. Surely it was a time that special friends, sisters in Christ, could weather together.

I made the grave mistake of operating on the assumption that people think the same way I do. Boy, was I wrong! As I racked my brain, thinking of ways to get through to her, I realize I made matters worse. What I really wanted was to reconcile. The more I reached out to her, the more she drew inward like a turtle into her shell. Maybe I pressed too hard, reaching out in the way I wanted her to reach out to me.

When I asked if we could meet for lunch, she simply said, “I don’t want to get together.” When I wanted to drop off a small gift for her birthday, she didn’t want me to come over. Not only that, she had no desire to even receive my gift. Her rejection cut like shards of glass into my heart.

Hurtful words proceeded from what I thought was the least likely of places. They came from the lips of a sweet friend. I felt (and still do feel) abandoned. I felt (and still do feel) hated. I had been issued a pass to “get out of my life” that I didn’t even want and there was nothing I could do or say about it.

Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother [or sister] is born for adversity.”

I never thought the adversity would be born from my sister. But it was. And then, unexpectedly, one who had been a trusted companion became an instrument God was using to test my faith.

When I look back at all the empty space and hurt between us, God has given me so much grace to see His desire to cultivate spiritual growth in me through the pain. I know God has intended this for my good and His glory!

The loss of a friendship caused me to reflect on the fact that before I trusted Christ, my friendship with God was broken. I was dead in my sins against Him. No matter what good efforts I put forth, nothing at all could be acceptable in God’s sight to restore my relationship with Him. My hope of being reconciled to God fell squarely upon the work of Jesus Christ. As I ponder this beautiful thought, it reminds me that no matter what happens with my earthly friendships, God has given me the best friend I could ever have. His son, Jesus.

My earthly friends will fail me and I will surely fail them.

I am thankful that even though my sweet friend (whom I truly miss) has shut me out of her life, there is still one Friend I can always, always, ALWAYS count on. Jesus is the only one I can truly count on without fail.

I do enjoy the blessings of a good, godly friend.  God is gracious to provide love and counsel through them. Yet, He still gave me this difficult situation to show me that no matter who He blesses my life with, HE is the center of that blessing.  HE, HIMSELF has blessed me with everything I have. Furthermore, He has proven His love and friendship to me by taking care of all my needs, including my all time greatest need.

I have a Friend for life Who will NEVER say, “I’m done.”

Not only do I have a friend for life in Jesus because He will never shut me out or leave, I have a friend who IS my life. He died so that my sins would be forgiven. Now, His life is MY life. Because He died for me, I am accepted forever by God.

The truth is that God’s acceptance so far outweighs the acceptance of others.

And because Jesus never gives up on me, I can’t give up on others. Jesus teaches us to, “love one another as I have loved you.” That is a tall order because I know myself, but I will live and die trying to love as He loved. My heart’s desire is to reflect His love and kindness to others.

Even to the friend that I lost.

One year down and still praying…

[Image via Craig Cloutier/Flickr]