Today I received an email from a friend of mine with the title “I’m letting go.” As I read the email, it explained how this friend felt that I was not responding to her needs and desire to communicate regularly and as a result, she wanted to end a 16+ year friendship.
At first glance, I became angry at the email and felt that it was an unfair characterization of our long-time friendship. My “lawyer hat” came on and I immediately began refuting every one of her sentences in my mind. Like many of us, I thought about all of the “comeback lines” I could use to rebut her arguments and how, in the end, my view of things would prevail.
Before I decided to respond, I took a shower, made some hot tea, and prayed. And prayed. And prayed. I prayed for so long, my tea started to get cold. I knew that if I responded to her in that moment, I would reply to her email in a way that would destroy our friendship and that would be unbecoming of my walk as a Christian. So I prayed, until the anger, hurt, and defensiveness melted away and I gained a sense of peace and resolve over my emotions.
When I returned to my computer this time, the Holy Spirit reminded of this popular passage of scripture:
“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.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NIV)
I began typing, allowing the love of Christ and the spirit of reconciliation to flow from my heart to my fingers and, eventually, to my reply email. I checked the “final product” and double checked it, not with my proofreading eyes, but with my spiritual eyes. I wanted to be sure that not only did my email convey a message of love and concern for her well-being, but that it also represented what I know God requires of every disciple: to share the love of God, regardless of the situation.
Sisters, it is not always easy to love one another. Family responsibilities, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, jobs, etc. can cause us to disconnect and lose touch with one another. At times, we can become distant and, if we are not careful, grow apart from each other. It can be a very difficult situation to face, especially when both parties are used to a close, familial bond.
We must respond to these difficulties as the Spirit instructs, for although we may think that we can exist independent of each other, we cannot. I Corinthians 12:18-20 (NIV) says it this way:
“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
We are all part of one body, and each part of the body is needed in order for the corporate structure to function. Sisters, each of us are needed in the body of Christ for it to flourish and thrive. That means that we must operate in a Spirit of love and forgiveness, not allowing the enemy to divide and separate us. For many, pride is a factor that prevents true forgiveness and reconciliation. For others, we become wounded by the actions of others and hold our hearts at bay for fear of future pain.
Whatever is holding you back from establishing or maintaining loving, healthy relationships with others, Jesus can remove those feelings and cause you to walk in victory in your relationships with others. If you desire to forgive and be reconciled with loved ones, repeat this prayer with me:
Jesus, I feel hurt, angry and upset by my friend’s actions. I want to respond in anger, but I know that you require that I respond in love. Lord, help me to love others, despite their actions toward me so that I may receive the blessing that you have for me. Forgive me if my thoughts and actions [did/do] not line up with your Word, and help me to establish and maintain healthy relationships with other men and women, so that you may be glorified. In Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
I have not heard back from my friend yet, but I pray that I will. If she does not respond favorably and decides to end the friendship, I must live with her decision. However, I can also walk away knowing that I responded in a spirit of love and reconciliation, not hurt and retribution.
If we desire to be truly blessed in life, we must be willing to lay aside our momentary disagreements and live a life of love and light. To be sure, love is not an easy task, but that is why it is called by Paul a “more excellent way.”
I hope that you will walk with me in that more excellent way called love and begin the process of healing and reconciliation with your friends and loved ones. I think that, like me, you will find that not only is it the right decision to make, but it is the only decision to make if we are to please God and achieve unity with one another.
Walking toward excellence with you, Anique