Very recently, a Sister in Christ who was once a friend said some very hurtful things to me. It’s been a long time since such a thing has happened, but goodness knows humility’s not my strong suit, so the occasional upbraiding is probably well deserved.
Since the purpose of this blog is to write about the good, the bad, and the ugly, I am writing a post that I’d rather not write. But perhaps it will help someone else who may have a similar experience – past, present, or future.
This person and I had developed a friendship over the past few years, but have drifted apart over the last several months. I had my own reasons for allowing this to happen, as she – obviously – had hers. I knew when we met recently that things were boiling under the surface, but didn’t see a point in bringing them to the light of day. Perhaps that’s me being passive-aggressive. Probably.
Well, my Sister in Christ is much more outspoken than I am, and I learned, through her eyes, how the distance that had grown between us has affected her and made her feel. I learned her view of my inadequacies and shortcomings.
Its never easy to hear yourself criticized by another person. In fact, it really stinks. It left me feeling pretty low for a while. Knowing that my loving Father does not want me to feel this way, I searched my head for scriptures that might apply.
First, I remembered Matthew 5:44: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” And, verse 46: “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get?” And so I dropped to my knees in the middle of fixing dinner and prayed for this Sister in Christ – that she would have healing in this difficult time, that she would know Christ’s love, peace, and comfort, and that she, too, would recognize the opportunity for introspection to become more conformed to the woman God made her to be. In the midst of a lot of hurt and anger, that prayer was the singularly most healing prayer I could have prayed.
The second scripture verse that came to mind was Hebrews 12:11: “Now discipline [some versions say “chastisement”] always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”
Thus, this is an opportunity for reflection. Am I, in all my relationships, letting Christ shine through me? Am I building others up in all I do? Am I maintaining my integrity? Are all my actions directed by my mission in Christ?
Of course I can’t honestly answer “yes” to all of those questions! I have work to do (a lot of work), and this has illuminated an area of opportunity for me. For that, I am grateful.
So, I thank my Sister in Christ. Good will come from her actions and her words. I trust in Christ to help me identify those areas that need improvement, and her words to me have made me more conscious of an area in which I need to ask for the Spirit’s wisdom to look interiorly at my actions and my motivations.
Indeed, her upbraiding – I pray – will bear much fruit.
“…we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.” Romans 5:3-5