miamisunset3She told me I suck at friendship. And she meant it. While most of me had the strength to reject the indictment as mean-spirited and untrue, a poisoned barb was left behind.

I’ve been prayerfully thinking about this damaging prophesy over my life. My general philosophy is to take criticism and weigh it out to find the truth, the good, the helpful, hidden in folds of ugliness. I know I am far from perfect, but this time it felt different.

The woman who wrote these hateful words based her proclamation on partial truths and one side of a misunderstanding. Rather than give me any benefit of doubt based on relationship history, she chose to hit me hard and disappear.

Her attack left me reeling, and I found myself considering closing off to friendship in general. Thankfully I have a few friends who love me enough to stick around and tell me not to listen to lies the Enemy is trying to use to block the good things God wants to do.

One thought keeps echoing in my head: I can’t help but believe I am not alone here.

The feeling is strong that you’ve been here, too. Maybe more than once. Sadly, so have I. I guess what I’m hoping for here is that my thought process might help you, too.

While someone I thought was a friend spoke negativity over me, a beloved real friend spoke truth. She reminded me of how much God has been doing in and through me lately, how my writing has multiplied and improved, how much ministry has taken place. She said not to forget what an opportunist Satan is, and how he will use even well-meaning believers to accomplish destruction when he feels threatened.

I tend to believe in the good in people much more readily than the bad, and because of this belief I don’t think this woman understands that she is being used for ungodly purposes. She may feel justified in her assessment of my inability to be a real friend to anyone.

But by grace I hear another voice whispering—sometimes through Godly friends who really do have my best interest at heart—that though others may condemn me, God does not.

One valuable lesson I’ve learned through this is how deeply words can wound, and how careful we must be in how we administer them. When we speak correction to others, it must flow from a loving heart, not an angry one.

Lashing out at a sister in Christ does not equal loving rebuke, no matter how eloquently and authoritatively it is communicated. Jesus didn’t speak condemnation over others, but instead spoke life and hope into their hearts and simply bade them follow his example. And then he stuck around to hear their hearts worded back.

And so, my friend, I’m asking what sadness you carry that came cloaked as reproof. And I beg you to remember the grace of our sweet God Who gives beauty for ashes and loves us even when others no longer do.

___________________
Featured at Write Where It Hurts

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