Saturday, April 13, 2013

To Love Each Other

Something has been on my heart all week, and at other times before that too. I have to share it. I feel like it's rare for me to actually sit down and write about things that really bother me or inspire me or worry me or challenge me. It is rare. That is because it takes time and a lot of thought, and sometimes it's just easier to tell you about my day and show you some pictures. That's the honest truth.

I want to get out of that, though. I want to take the time to share what's on my heart. I don't know that i will... being honest, I can be lazy, and if i'm not being lazy, I'm being easily distracted, especially while on the computer! But this topic has been stewing in me, and I have some hours to sit and do whatever I want. So here goes.

 I have, for many years, considered myself incredibly blessed when it comes to friendship. I have some of the best girlfriends, girls who really love me, truly care for me, will say they are going to pray for me, and then actually do it. I have girlfriends who support me & encourage me in anything i do. Several of them have been good friends for 10 years or more, and others are new in my life. But they are all the BEST kinds of friends a girl could have. TRUE FRIENDS.

There are other women, too. Women I used to go to church with, but now keep in touch with on Facebook. We don't hang out, but if they post something about a crisis they're going through or how they need prayer, I immediately feel compassion for them and often wish i could do something for them. Sometimes i am burdened for them for days, other times I just want to hug their neck! Again, these are women I never see! Just women i know and love. Women who are my sisters in Christ. Given their character, I am pretty certain that if I were to vent a frustration or concern, their reaction would be the same. 

I could honestly have coffee with any one of these people and tell them ANYTHING, and they would support me. Obviously, if i told them something good, something along the lines of school or career or a baby or a house, they would be excited & support me. But even if i told them something BAD. Even if i said i wanted to leave my husband, or I was getting addicted to alcohol or I wanted to start partying because I never did it in my college years, they would STILL love me!

No, they wouldn't agree with or support any of those choices (which, by the way, are NOT the case!). What I mean to say is they would still LOVE me through and through. I don't think they would turn their backs on me. I can see some of their faces as I think about this, and i know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they would still be there for me, they would still care about me, they would hug me & pray for me & do whatever they could do to help me.

And even if i made the wrong decision...even if i did leave my husband or refuse rehab or  start bar-hoppin' every weekend, they would still love me. I have no doubts about this. Sure, they would be shocked & worried & maybe even disgusted, but i know they would love me unconditionally.

 The reason i bring this up, is because I keep having friends of mine be hurt by others in the body of Christ. I keep seeing sisters in Christ tear each other down or criticize or condemn. And it bothers me. What is the point of this? So we can look more spiritual to others? So we can sit up on our spiritual high horse? Because we are jealous? I don't know why some christians feel the need to treat others this way, but i will say this: It is wrong!

I am not saying that the women in my life have NEVER said ANYTHING to hurt me. Of course they have, and i have to them. Most of my closest friends were my roomies at one time or another, and we are human, after all. We will say things we don't mean in the heat of the moment, and we will also say things intended to be of help, when the truth is it didn't help a single bit. These aren't the situations I am referring to; I'm not talking about mistakes. I am talking about HURTING our sisters in christ. I am talking about kicking somebody while they're already down.

Sometimes, when your husband or mom or boss or client is being mean, you should be able to pour all that out to a friend without being judged or criticized. Without being kicked. You should have a friend to go to when your life is crumbling all around you, a friend you know will have your back, a friend you know is there for you no matter what. Even if you have your own problems and are somewhat to blame for whatever is going on - these are not times a true friend would bring that up. These are times a true friend or a true sister in Christ shouldn't do anything but listen, support, care, pray!

I bring this up because I keep seeing this happening! I see it on Facebook and i hear about it from friends of mine who really are hurting. Some of my closest friends have recently been so hurt by others and it makes me angry! What is the point of all that? Why is your first reaction when somebody confides in you or when somebody asks for prayer or, gosh, when somebody posts something on facebook - why is it to judge? Or criticize? or blame? Or to (gasp!) UNFRIEND?

I say that last one a little facetiously, because I think it's silly to unfriend someone because they posted something you disagreed with. Now, i am NOT talking about the person that posts CONSTANT political or religious bashing, or the person who only posts Candy Crush updates. I get that, haha! I also understand having to let go of people who do nothing but pour negativity in your life when you are trying to stay positive. I get that too. I am not talking about things like that. I am talking about when you like a person & then you disagree with ONE THING that person says, and you unfriend them. REALLY?

 Seriously, isn't this world full of Know-It-Alls and Judgy MacJudgerson's and spiritual goody-goodies, already?! And do we, as christian women, really think God is so impressed by our ability to stand up & challenge or confront? No. I don't think He is. Obviously, there is a time and a place for confrontation, but that's another post. What i am talking about here is being a true Sister in Christ. Loving people, even at their worst. I mean, that's what Jesus did, right? And that's what He calls us to do.

I read this post on Beth Moore's blog this week, after already thinking about this topic for days. And these quotes really stuck with me:

"I kept thinking how believers attack one another and sling stones at each other like the other can’t bruise or break. And all the while that person may be in so much personal pain that it’s nearly unbearable."

"Life is hard enough without hatefulness rife in the Body of Christ. We are called to carry one another’s burdens, not pile relentlessly on top of them. We can still hold one another accountable. We can still ask questions. We can still disagree. But we can do it with respect." 

And this: "I’m sick of the bullying. The mud-slinging and the meanness. I’m sick of careless, idle words thrown out there in the public square and professing believers in Christ standing on the necks of their own brothers and sisters to sound smart and superior. As if it’s not enough that we are surrounded in this culture by Christian haters, we’ve got to have our own hater-Christians. It’s insane."

Seriously, i wanted to get up & shout when i read this.  That is what i am trying to say! I know there is a time to speak the truth, and I am not suggesting you turn a blind eye if your friend is seriously falling off the deep end! Obviously, you talk to them, but can you do it with LOVE? That's what the Bible says. To go to someone in LOVE. I know we all know that, but I am starting to wonder if we even know what love IS.

I guess this is long enough, and I don't even know if i am writing a clear & concise post! Hopefully, though, it will at least help us to think before we speak. To consider that there may be more than meets the eye. To use some understanding & compassion. To love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-8

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love,
I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.
If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, 
and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.  
If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,
 but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered,
it keeps no record of wrongs.  
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  
It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails.

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