Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's okay to no longer be friends

The title just about says it all...

A few weeks ago, our pastor gave a talk on this very subject. That despite the words of Michael W. Smith's song, friends are not friends forever. And yes, I totally stole that from Dave. :)

This week's been a really hard week in terms of friend/enemy struggles. I'll also say that it's also been a great week in terms of having folks surround me with their love and friendship. But it's been really hard. I keep thinking of a couple particular conflicts, and how even some of my very best intentions keep blowing up in my face. I was trying so hard to be their friend, despite the fact that they're really enemies. I prayed for them, I was nice to them, and in the end, none of it has made any difference.

I've been reading a lot in Proverbs over the past couple of months, and the thing I kept thinking about yesterday was how many Proverbs spoke about the difference between wise men and fools. And then I started thinking about these two particular people, and how they exemplify the foolish man.

Earlier this week, a friend of mine used an example of how an old friend came to her with a list of complaints about her and how she labored over how much was true- what to use to improve and what to throw away. Still earlier, another person, when I asked for prayer over my anxiety with one of these friendships, blithely said, "well, maybe you two will end up talking it out and you can be friends again." My reply was that I wish it were that simple, but it's not.

However, all these conversations got me thinking: what would happen if we talked, I got to air my grievances, listen to hers, and try to work it out?

The Proverbs came back to haunt me. I've tried talking it out with both people. Both have responded with the manner of a fool. Which led me to thinking of other conflicts I've had with close friends. My closest friends are the ones who, in proverbial terms, have always acted with wisdom.

Conflict is inevitable in any relationship. But I'm realizing that it is dangerous to have fools for friends and think that those conflicts can be easily dealt with. So what do I do? How do I handle these two people that I desperately want to reach out to, want to bring healing to, and yet they only want to handle things as fools?

Another wise friend said in regard to one of these negative situations that I just simply needed to back away and not talk to this person. That my relationship with her was only giving Satan a foothold in my life. I have been thinking about this for a while now. I know she is right.

Which led to a reminder of Dave's talk earlier this summer. He used the example of Barnabas and Paul. In Acts 15:39, it says, "they had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company." Both Paul and Barnabas did great things for the Lord. They both loved Him and followed Him. But their disagreement meant they could no longer be together.

The hardest thing in deciding to let go of these two relationships has been knowing that they are my sisters in Christ. I've felt this obligation to go above and beyond to make it work for the Lord's sake. Not even Paul did that. I've laid myself out as a martyr, made myself miserable, and I don't need to.

So I'm letting go. The Lord can continue to work in their lives, can continue in mine, and we do not have to do it together. Those relationships are too destructive in my life, and to continue down the path with them means that I am not as effective in the Lord's work as I would be without.

Today, my prayer for my friends, and my enemies, is that they would be able to let go of destructive relationships that prevent them from working effectively with the Lord. That they can cut off the tools of Satan, and be at peace. Amen.