Uncategorized, Widsom and Musings

Kindness Culture: When the Wheels Fall Off

The ultimate test of a truly Christlike, kind heart is to maintain that same posture even amid heartbreak. When the wheels fall off and the people you love turn tail and run, kindness is the furthest thing from our mind.

There is a unique kind of pain that comes when a friend suddenly and forcefully leaves our lives.  I have walked through it at the hands of good friends, more times than I want to count. When a friend betrays us and walks away, as someone who has been through it before and is well aware of the grieving process that follows, self-preservation is the first response.

We want to lash out. We want to cry and holler and chase the person who is running away with a piece of ourselves. We want to retaliate, either directly or passive aggressively, and remove all reminders of that person from our lives, while we sit and breathe fire and curses on them and publish our personal nightmare on social media. We want to be angry. We want to elevate ourselves and defend our position and vindicate our reputation against whatever rumors may be spread.

Jesus-lovers, we cannot do that. Because that’s not how He did it.  If we want to become like Jesus, we MUST follow His example, EVEN in the middle of intense emotional pain.

It happens to be Holy Week at the time of this newest heartache in my life. The significance of the fact that IT happened on Maundy Thursday is not lost on me. The observances and celebrations remind us that Jesus treated his persecutors with a depth of love and compassion that we can’t fathom..

Jesus was clearly in emotional distress even before the events of Good Friday began. He went to pray, begging the Father to remove this cup from Him. To spare Him the pain and the physical agony, and yes even the emotional grief of the betrayal was about to happen to Him, first from Judas and Peter, and then from the world at large. And yet, this was His purpose, and His posture of humility, kindness, and servitude even while enduring agonizing torture, is the epitome of how we need to react under fire.

Rejection is brutal. Abandonment is torturous. It is the most horrific, surreal feeling to watch that burning plane go down in real time with no landing gear, knowing we are going to have to feel the full impact of bone-breaking, soul-shattering, crushing pressure as we hit the bottom, all the while knowing that somehow, we will have to live through it. Perhaps the knowing, the anticipation that we are going to be forced to feel all of it is what puts our minds and body into such a state of shock. Shock is self-protection. We know it’s going to hurt, and that after the initial shock wears off, it is going to take our breath away to watch that person run away with the lit match that started the fire. We know that to grieve that friendship is going to bring buckets of tears until we are wrung out dry before we are finished. It is SO hard to grieve for a living person, especially someone who is in our regular sphere of influence or that there is a chance of running into in town.

I feel you, Sweet Sister. I have experienced it time and time again. There are not adequate words to describe the hurt. It is excruciating pain. If you’ve walked through this before, you know that the those emotions are felt physically – you feel sick to your stomach, you can’t breathe because the wind just got knocked out of you, your skin hurts like you just did a giant bellyflop from an Olympic diving platform. You replay every interaction, every conversation, analyzing what went wrong. And as much as you love your “real” friends, and as much as they want to be supportive, there is no one but Jesus who can absorb and understand that kind of hurt. Writing this doesn’t absolve me of the hurt. My heart aches tonight.

And yet…I have learned that forgiveness actually feels better than anger.

I have learned that personal repentance the key to accepting what is happening, even if we feel we have done nothing to deserve the situation we are in.

And, I have learned that outward silence and inward prayer is the best hope we have for redemption and restoration

The last thing that friend expects for you to do from the hellfire of betrayal, is to pray for them. To continue loving them. To hold your position like nothing ever happened, and to treat them with compassion instead of anger. The last thing they expect is for you to identify that their hurtful action came from deep within a mountain of pain, and that something somewhere had to give and release the pressure. The last thing they expect is a cheerful smile when a surprise meeting in public occurs, or for that smile to communicate forgiveness.

And yet that is exactly what Jesus did as he stood before Pilate, mute against accusations. I’ve always wondered why on earth he would remain silent in the torrent of such stinging words. He didn’t defend His position or title or reputation. He didn’t remind them of all the kind things and miracles He had just spent three years invested in – and perhaps even some of these soldiers had witnessed or heard about their own family members healed by His hands.

He stayed silent. He went willingly to be torn apart with whips. He went meekly, with forgiveness in his heart, knowing that if even one of his executioners turned around and apologized, that He would instantly wrap them in a hug, no questions asked. He bravely carried a cross up a hill through hordes of people bellowing insults at Him, and He loved them the whole way, knowing that He would have the victory in the end.

He remained kind. His heart held steady. He didn’t breathe curses on them in anger and retaliation. I believe that in His silence, He was communicating with the Father, handing over the hurt, receiving strength.

What Jesus was doing was modeling the fact that staying silent is our key to victory. Instead of screaming insults after our betrayer; instead of blasting any part of their identity or hints to it all over social media; instead of throwing them under the bus twice, we need to remain silent so that we don’t throw dynamite on whatever is left of their hurting heart and destroy any chance of them trusting that you are capable of forgiving. When and if she ever looks back to survey the damage and considers whether she can possibly repair the bridge she thinks she has burned, that friend needs to see you standing there, smiling at her with open arms. Your forgiveness will be the most generous gift you can offer in that moment. {disclaimer: I am in no way referring to abusers or otherwise toxic individuals who have no business being brought back into your life, because most times the cycle will repeat itself}

The screaming and crying may still need to happen, but it needs to be done in the garden, alone with Jesus. It needs to happen when you go for a drive by yourself to pray and have to pull over when you can’t see through your tears, and you need to sit in that parking lot for however long it takes to pray and cry and fight for your peace of heart. 9E9CC689-1A20-49B0-AF95-371589257B9DYou don’t leave that place until Jesus fills your emptiness back up. I can tell you from experience today that the pain gives way to joy easier and sooner when we follow Jesus’ example. It still hurts, yes, but not with the same kind of frantic hopelessness as in the past, because Jesus has taught me how to find safety in His shadow.

You need to crank up your praise music in that parking lot and worship Him til the roof comes off.

You need to drink the bitter wine of repentance, and cry out for forgiveness for your part in their pain. Even if you did nothing to cause it, the Holy Spirit will bring you to awareness of those things in your own heart that need to be handled.

You need to pray and intercede for that friend you love, harder and louder than you ever have before. Carry her to the feet of Jesus with you, and plead healing for both of you.

You need to remember that in the middle of your pain, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). And yes, it may take more than a night. It might be a really long night. But joy will come if you allow Him to bring it. For many, it is worth a reminder that suicide – while it may sound like relief or revenge meant to induce guilt – is a very permanent action that will leave no opportunity to see God work miraculously in your life. This hurts terribly, but it is not worth giving up your own life.

You need to turn your eyes on Jesus with full trust that He will redeem your pain, IF it is in your best interest. And you need to know that if He does not restore that friendship, then that person was removed from your life for a reason greater than you might ever understand. Either way, that is victory for you. You take the victory when you walk through a fire seven times hotter than any personal pain you have ever experienced before, and come out kinder and more willing to forgive than ever before. Because that is a picture of someone who has allowed the Holy Spirit to use their heartbreak to train their spirit man to become more like Jesus, and that is so critical to bringing people to know His love.

Stand strong, Sweet Sister.  Allow yourself feel the pain, but don’t stay there.  As the tears momentarily clear, send a personal text to a few of your friends and just tell them you are thankful for them. No details – just gratitude. You’ll find that many times, they respond likewise and that will be your reminder that you are loved by many.

May we each be ever so aware of God’s presence in our pain. May we know that we are not alone. And may we carefully follow Jesus’ example of love when life deals a crushing blow. Even so, God is still good.

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