Monday, May 23, 2011

I Am Not Taking My Toys And Going Home!

Proverbs 27:6

 "The wounds of a friend can be trusted..."  (NIV)

"Faithful are the wounds of a friend..." (KJV)

Leah, my oldest friend in the world (in tenure, not in age), and I would play jax for hours on end when we were young girls.  It was one of our favorite games to play.  We grew up next door to each other, and we spent long weekend and summer days playing Chinese jump rope, Barbies, kickball, hopscotch and cards. 
From time to time, Leah and I would have a spat and feelings would get hurt.  My childish reaction was to take my toys and go home.  This accomplished nothing and only contributed to a temporary division between us.  Eventually, whether 15 minutes or 15 hours later, one of us would go knock on the other's door and ask the other to come out and play.  Toys were happily shared again and the playing resumed.  Joy, conflict, temporary separation, softening hearts, restoration.  The cycle of healthy friendship.

Leah and I are still friends today. We endured the cycle of friendship and enjoy the blessing of calling each other "lifelong friends". While I don't get to see her as often as I would like, we keep in touch and she will always be extra special to me. Leah is the friend who invited me to attend her church's youth group, where I accepted Jesus and I still walk with Him today. Leah was God's vessel to bring me to Himself.  My life is changed eternally because of her.

Friends hurt each other. When my heart aches because of the pain one of our children is experiencing from hurtful words or actions of a friend, it seems almost unbearable to me as a mom.  My momma flesh can get the better of me, yet I must yield my heart to the Holy Spirit and respond maturely in such a way that honors Him.  But the greatest gift I can give our children in that moment of pain is Truth.  "A friend loves at all times."  (Proverbs 17:17)  The truth is that usually the friend's hurt was not intentional.  The truth is that we are all sinners and we will hurt even those we love.  The truth is we need to show grace and grant forgiveness.  Surely, we need the grace and forgiveness, too. The truth is a friend loves at all times.  We are not to be fair-weather friends.  We need to give each other room to grow.  Determining not to react childishly, we will not take our toys and go home.

Adult girlfriends hurt each other, too.  Our bristly thorns rear their ugly heads and we wound each other.  Yet, as we anchor ourselves in His truth and love, we are able to weather storms of friendship and life together.  Praying.  Seeking His truth.  Asking for forgiveness.  Showing grace.  Trusting Him to nourish, heal, grow and restore friendships. 

Friendships truly are a precious gift from God.  I am blessed to have treasured friends who I believe love me with a pure heart and who pray for me sincerely.  With reverence for and thankfulness to Him, my heart is devoted to the friends He has given me.  One of the greatest privileges in friendship is seeing each other through the seasons of life ~ joy, pain, rejoicing, sorrow, laughter and tears.  We do this by being there, staying, being actively involved and not taking our toys, going home and isolating ourselves.

When I am wounded by a friend, I lay it at the Lord's feet and give Him my broken heart.  "What do You want me to learn from this?  Do You want to change something in me?  How can I love my friend at this time?"  The wounds of a friend can be trusted.  I trust God to use those wounds to bring life and healing.  I am not taking my toys and going home. 

When I wound a friend, I pray that I will always rush to them to ask for forgiveness.  My heart grieves during that temporary separation, but I am not taking my toys and going home.  I am standing firm, committed to loving that friend even as I bear the consequences of my hurtful actions.  I pray they know that the wounds can be trusted because He is using them.  How beautiful it is that God weaves friendships together and uses us as sanctification tools in each other's lives.  Faithful are the wounds of a friend.

(Sadly, there are some friendships that turn out to be unhealthy for us, where most of the fruit from the relationship is spoiled.  At times, it is necessary for us to lay those unhealthy relationships at the Lord's feet and move on.  Though often grievous and heart breaking as we go through this, His pruning from each other's lives brings freedom and life.  We place our "toys", our hopes and desires that the friendship would have been full of vitality, at His feet.)

Childhood friendships and adult friendships are quite the same.  Our choice is whether we respond to hurts in childish ways or in God-honoring, mature ways.  I am thankful that, when I hurt my friends, they do not gather their toys in their arms and leave me stranded.  They stay.  They pray.  They love.  They share their toys, their hearts, once again. 

When wounded, I don't want to put my hands on my hips and scuffle my way home with my toys to isolation.  Rather, I want to outstretch my arms to God, offer Him my heart and ask Him for grace to respond like a big girl.

So, let's play!  Toss the jax.  Here's the ball.  I'd like you to go first... 

"When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.   And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:11-13


Fields of gold said...

You're so wise! I always glean from your words and tuck them away to put to use down the road.

"A friend loves at all times" if my best friend, Joni's, and my verse. We write it on every card we give each other.

Picking up the ball... now it's your turn!

Arm fulls of love to ya!

Mich said...

I enjoyed reading this.

Hope you have a great Memorial Day weekend!