Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Encouraging Words When Friends Desert You by Jaye Lewis

Hello friends,

It’s a disappointment.  It’s confusing.  It’s a heartache.  When friends desert you it is like someone has stolen a part of you, and you’ll never get it back.  But remember, I said “it is like.”  I did not say, “it is.”

When I was young and pregnant with my third child, I belonged to a church which had a very active women’s organization.  Of course all these women were my “friends.”  Two by two, the ladies were sent out to homes of women who were too ill to go to church.  The purpose was to teach and to heal broken hearts.  However, many visiting teachers ran through their duties as fast as their legs could carry them.  Their hearts were simply not in healing or teaching.  Their hearts were in themselves.

I was very pregnant and very ill.  I was not expected to make it through the birth of my precious baby.  So, I really needed someone to befriend me, and to give me comfort.  I needed to hear the words, “God is with you, and so are we.  We will help you come through this.”  But these ladies were not my friends, as I was soon to find out.

One day, the doorbell rang, and I staggered to the door.  Leaning against the door frame, I opened the door.

“Come in!” I cried.  “Will you pray with me?”

“Oh no,” they responded in a cheerful tone.

“Please.  I really need to talk to someone.”

“Well, there’s always prayer, and we have these pamphlets to give you.”

They pushed the pamphlets through a crack in the door.  Then they left.  I stood at the door, sobbing.  Many years later, I still have to wonder what those women were thinking.  I thought, at first, that those ladies were an answer to the prayers of my lonely heart.  I was wrong.  God was the answer, not them.  And they were definitely not my friends.  But they did me a favor.  Yes, they did.  My relationship with God, from that time forth, grew richer and deeper.

I suppose there are people whose close, personal friendships flow from cradle to grave.  I just have never known anyone who had that kind of friendship.  What I have seen and experienced is what I call “friendship bondage.”  There is always the stronger, more overbearing friend.  Filled with love bombs in the beginning, and continuing with perfectly timed guilt in the end.

“Give me a call later,” but you receive no calls from them.

“Why didn’t you call me?” They ask later.

“Well, why didn’t you call me, instead?” You may ask.

“I meant to.  I thought of you.  But I got so busy….”

The bondage is where you are caught up in the life of another, and things are expected of you, such as, lunch on Thursdays, brunch on Sunday, Tuesday night movies.  All of which you can never escape.  Should you want to read a book on Thursday, take a family trip on Sunday, and just stay home on Tuesday, you immediately are made to feel guilty for letting your friend down.  That’s not friendship.  That’s bondage.

I cannot count the number of people who have deserted me, because of my health.  I have a strong personality.  I’m funny, loyal, and easy to confide in.  I keep confidences, and you can count on me to “be there,” wherever “be there” might lead.

In church, where most friendships are forged, almost anything can strain the relationship. The death of a spouse or parent or child can leave friends uncomfortable.  What should they say?  When is grieving too much for them?  Will she never stop talking about it?  And, should you ever change denominations, or even congregations, well, that means you’ve left your faith.  Being a military family, we were often accused of having no faith, simply because we moved.

In friendship, there is always one of the parties who gives, and one who takes.  Should the “giver” stop giving, then the “receiver” feels abandoned, and the friendship usually ends.  I’ve lost friends, because we moved, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because they found a new friend.  I’ve seen that a subtle change or, sometimes, it would be quite blatant.

I’ve lost a friend, because I got a divorce, or they did.  I’ve lost friends, because their lifestyle has changed.  They’re now single and dating.  I’ve lost friends, because their spouse died.  Because I no longer showed up at club meetings.  And, I’ve lost friends, because I became sick.  That’s the loss of a friendship that hurts the most.

Friendship is illusive, fleeting, and disappointing.  True friendship is rare.  Whether we maintain it or we let it go, it can hurt.  Sometimes we pursue it, racing to catch up before it’s gone, and sometimes it goes away, and we never know why.  If you are hurting from the loss of a friendship.  If your heart aches, and you don’t know where to go, I cannot advise you on how to bring it back.

I can only tell you where I go when my heart aches.  I go to the foot of the Cross.I believe that He who calmed the stormy sea can calm the tempest within my heart.  Jesus is the rock to which I cling, my hiding place, and my first love.  He is the only one who can calm my heart. 

God has given me a wise and humble husband, whose love never falters.  My husband looks at this sixty-five year old woman, and he sees the girl who stole his heart.  Oh, how I could go on about the love of my life.  He is the finest man I’ve ever known, and the only man I’ve trusted with all my heart.  I have two daughters who are the best friends a mother could have.  Their devotion is unequaled, and their sacrificial love is a shining example of what true friendship is.  This is not something I’ve done for myself.  I’m not that wise.  They, my husband and my daughters, are God’s most precious gifts.

Sure, I’d love to have a woman friend who is my age, who remembers bobbysox and saddle shoes.  I’d love to share memories of a gentler time and who’d laugh with me over scratchy crinolines that were all the rage, who remembers a time of innocence that is long past. But I can live without that.  I can laugh without that.  And I can love without that.

This time of aloneness is a time to reflect on the blessings that I do have.  Solitude during the day, gives me the opportunity to write on my novel and share with you the things that are on my heart.  I have three little dogs, one big dog, and three cats.  They need love, food, and protection.  I hide them beneath my wings, just as a mother bird hides her chicks.  And when this chick needs to hide, I run to my Jesus and hide beneath His wings.

Life is not perfect.  In our aloneness, we need not be lonely.  How can we reach out, without surrendering our dignity?  How can we show God that we are willing to serve, if only to pray for others?  Those are questions that only you can answer.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou art with me.  Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23  Those are the words of King David, whom God called “Beloved friend.”  David had every false friend desert him.  He had a wife who ridiculed him, because He dared to worship God with abandon.  He had a child who betrayed him, and who did evil towards him.  So have I, and that was the greatest heartbreak of my life.  But, you know what?  I survived, and so did David.  David turned to His best friend, God.

My friends, I can’t promise you a lifelong friendship that never falters.  It will always hurt when friends desert you; however, God will never desert you.  Let me repeat that.  God will never desert you.  He loves you.  You are His most precious creation.  If you doubt that, read Psalm 139.  Then read Isaiah 49:  "Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” 

I have been betrayed by my parents, my siblings, and one child who has hated me her whole life, and I never knew why.  I have friends desert me for no good reason.  But God has given me a wonderful husband and two devoted, selfless daughters.  He has given me a faith that I could never have given to myself.  He has given me a conviction that even now, as I write, He is here beside me.  He walks with me, and when I stumble, He picks me up in His arms and He carries me.  If you let Him, He will carry you also.

With love,
Jaye Lewis

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