Tick. Tick. Tick. Kaboom. When I picked up the phone, I was completely unaware that a verbal nuclear bomb of sorts was set to explode. It was a full on personal attack and my back was marked with a big, fat red bullseye. When I hung up the phone the numbness of it all gave way to a flood of tears and torrents of anger. How could they say that? Why would they do that? How did this go from being friendly to standing before a firing squad in .02 seconds? Instantly, a Christian friend felt like a mortal enemy and I had the gaping heart wounds to prove it. Hm. Frenemies...now what? God taught me 3 profound life lessons from being plundered by a frenemy.
First of all-let's define a Frenemy. The dictionary definition of Frenemy refers to "a person with whom one is friendly, despite a fundamental dislike or rivalry" or "a person who combines the characteristics of a friend and an enemy". The Bible has several specific words for them and they don't sound as cute and fluffy as frenemy. I took a look at these whoopers and did a heart check-yup-there are times I made the frenemy list as well.
"A perverse man spreads strife, And a slanderer separates intimate friends." Proverbs 16:28
"He who goes about as a slanderer reveals secrets, therefore do not associate with a gossip." Proverbs 20:19
"If anyone thinks himself to be religious, and yet does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this man’s religion is worthless." James 1:26
"The integrity of the upright guides them, but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity." Proverbs 11:3
"His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords." Psalm 55:21
Have you ever had to deal with the epic fallout from a frenemy? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt there was no way out and your reputation and integrity were at the mercy of a mercenary?! I get that, and here is what I learned.
1. STEP BACK AND OWN IT.
God taught me how to step back, get perspective and own my mess. I had to own my part...what? It's their problem-they started it!!! Really? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. Even though this was dumped in my lap-it became mine and I had to do something with it. More than anything, I wanted to deal with it well and not make an even bigger mess. I had to step back and honestly ask myself a few questions. How have I offended? What did I say or do that was misunderstood? Was I a frenemy to them? Am I being defensive and acting just as badly? I hung my head in shame and realized that some of the answers reflected the yuck in me. I was guilty of feeding the problem and I needed God's perspective of me, of them and of the situation. As I owned my part, I had to let the rest stay unresolved because it was out of my control--but not out of His.
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." Romans 12:18
2. LEARN A FEW THINGS.
God gave me the blessing of permanent heart scars from my frenemy. (Yes, I said blessing because it produced in me endurance and a whole lot of wisdom!!) I saw warning signs of it being a toxic friendship but I ignored it. My husband even saw the same signs and I continued the friendship thinking that it would all go away. I participated in gossip with the cloak of "prayer requests" and brushed off the off grey areas as "she is just being real". I came away from conversations feeling wrong about things that were said and topics that were covered, but I rationalized it all away. My conscience?...not so much. It was not happy about my choices, but I pushed it kicking and screaming into the corner because I needed a friend. God began dealing with me, and boy did I learn the hard way that behavior, attitude and words matter. The fruit that is produced in a relationship matters and I had lost that perspective.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." Galations 5:22-23
“Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit...For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil." Matthew 12:33-35
Face it, we make a lot of our own needless drama because we ourselves meddle, gossip and open our mouths with opinions that are better left unsaid. He chose to let me suffer the consequences of participating in wrong. He is such a good, good Father! Praise God He chopped off the parts of me that offended Him so deeply and made me into something beautiful. Yes, the wounds from my foolishness left some beautiful marks.
Scar #1...I learned how to better guard my tongue. Check.
"The one who guards his mouth preserves his life; The one who opens wide his lips comes to ruin." Proverbs 13:3
Scar #2...I learned to pay attention to warning signs and be discerning when it comes to choosing friends. Check.
"Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm." Proverbs 13:20
Scar # 3..and this was my biggest lesson. Take my junk to God in prayer-instead confiding in a toxic friend. Double check. God said it like this, straight up...Girl, you got a big circle "friends" and then you got a "heart sister"--know the difference.
"Look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11
"A man of too many friends comes to ruin, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother." Proverbs 18:24
"...keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. 1 Peter 3:16-17
3. FORGIVE THEM.
The next morning after the explosion, I sat down for my quiet time. I remember asking God to show me what to do next and how to navigate my horrendous attitude. (You see, I spent the previous day coming up with all kinds of defenses, come backs, cut downs and a long list of their faults. I knew it was wrong-but at the time it felt pretty good to win the war in my mind, you know??...just being honest.) Through my swollen eyes and a few more sniffles, I asked God to forgive me for my rancid thoughts the day before, and for the sin that I participated in throughout the friendship. He did, and I felt clean for the first time in a long, long time. There is nothing like coming clean with God. Then, I opened up my devotional and at the top was this passage.
"You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the sons of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself; I am the LORD." Levitcus 19:18
I slammed that devotional shut-HARD. Really HARD. And I physically cried out. "I don't know how, God!! I don't know how to forgiver her, much less love her and not hold a grudge!" The tears welled up again because that seemed like an insurmountable undertaking. Love? Forgive without a grudge? Big task. God let me sit in that emotional stew for quite awhile that morning. I didn't know how to love my neighbor-but He did. I had to let Him rearrange my heart and realign my mind with His truth. He reminded me of the years that I treated Jesus in the same manner that I had just been treated, and He gently continued to love me despite my despicable actions. If anyone on earth had a right to hold a grudge, it was Jesus. But, He didn't and He was asking me to do the same. I learned I was only responsible for my sins-not theirs. My job was to have a heart like Jesus, to love like Jesus and leave the rest at His cross. So as He asked me to turn the other cheek with healthy boundaries. He taught me how to truly pray for her. He taught me how to bless and to go the second mile even when it was not reciprocated. That, dear sister, took time and I stumbled the whole way.
"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you." Colossians 3:12-13
Dear sister, if your heart has been wounded by a close friend and they now they feel like an enemy, I would encourage you to take it to the Greatest Physician ever known. You can not get through this by talking maliciously about the other person, by emotional or physical retaliation, by manipulating situations or even by ignoring it. God must intervene and you must surrender. He is the only one that can heal you and deal with them. The rest of the yucky stuff you have to lay down at His all sufficient cross and by faith, trust Him.
Blessings in Christ,