Back in the early 1990s I had a friend who carried me. I was going through a ministry betrayal that knocked the faith out of my soul. It was the only time of all of my smashed heart times that I considered leaving my faith. Yet I found this friend who was 100 percent in support of me. I mean it when I said she carried me. It was with her words. It was when we met up for dinner and I couldn’t afford to pay for dinner. It was the surprise gifts. It was the many hours of time spent together. I cannot imagine that horrible time without her. She was “Jesus with skin on” for me when I doubted God’s goodness.
But it was just months after I was her maid of honor at her wedding (her fiance’ had gotten very used to me being the third wheel for that year-plus) that she dumped me. Just bam. One day she accused me of all sorts of wild accusations and cut me out of her life. It was so quick. And so empty.
All of these years later I’m still so grateful for what she did for me during that vulnerable time. I still can’t square up what happened but how she carried me is the legacy of that friendship. The legacy could be her abandonment but that doesn’t square up to the “Jesus with skin on” she was for me.
She hurt me but my gratefulness for her is her legacy.
“Some of my people are my people only for one smashed-heart season. Some of my people are my people for nearly 40 years.” (p. 8, I Wish I Could Take Away Your Pain)
I may be abandoned again. I may be betrayed again. But I will continue to choose the vulnerability of people to help me through my smashed heart seasons. I need people to help me.
I wish having a Christian friend meant I wasn’t exposing my vulnerable self to be hurt. Or to be betrayed. But that is assuming that my Christian friend is perfect when I know I am an imperfect friend to my imperfect friends.
I still choose the gift of people.
“Connection moves us at the level of our atoms. Each particle we are made of influences and is influenced by the particle next to it in an unending chain that exists on the smallest and largest scales you can imagine. We are made of energy. The nature of energy is to be shared, to spread, to connect one thing to another.” (Burnout, Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski, p. 136) This is amazing!
This is not just talking about marriage relationships. Single people, marriage is not the end-all for this.
We have need of each other. To the core of our atoms.
What I can look for though to find the right others is trustworthiness.
One thing for sure about friendships, particularly women friendships, is there is this ever undercurrent of competition and comparison. Ugh our scarcity selves.
Realizing this, working on my own scarcity issues, I can look and discern for trustworthiness. Here’s some wisdom of the how. It’s from Dr. Henry Cloud (a wise favorite of Bravester).
Here are the ingredients for trust to take place in a relationship.
Intent — You’ll trust when you know someone’s motives are good.
Understanding — You’ll trust when you feel someone understands you.
Character — You’ll trust when someone’s character reveals traits such as honesty, love, compassion, mercy, courage, patience, etc.
Capacity and Ability — You’ll trust when someone has the ability to do what you need them to do. A surgeon, for example, should know how to perform an operation.
Track Record —You’ll trust someone based on their past behavior. –Dr. Henry Cloud, email, November 16, 2020
This is a list I can use to help me discern. This is do-able. This is practical.
This doesn’t mean that in a year-plus your friend won’t turn on you. But people…
I will still choose this gift of people.