Okay, so I had no idea when I met Lisa-Jo for the first time seven years ago in the Dallas Airport that she would become like a Jonathan heart friend to me. No idea that we would share our lives day in and day out with each other, be there in a thousand little ways for each other every day, share our sofas and our tears and our prayers with each other, and if ever there was a woman I trust to write a book about friendship, it’s this woman who has lived daily real-life, everyday, Jonathan-friendship with me, for years. I’d be kinda lost without her. I’m just flat-out saying it: her book, Never Unfriended, this is The Ultimate Book on Friendship — and at the end of our lives, how we’ve learned to be a good friend, determines who shows up at our deathbeds. This is the stuff that really matters the very most — koinonia. I want to hand out these words, this book, to every woman I know. In a divided world, if ever there was a time for a book about the lasting and holy impact of friendship, that time is now. It’s the craziest, wildest grace to welcome Lisa-Jo to the farm’s front porch today…
I was woken up at 4:45 yesterday morning by my middle child announcing to the darkened room that he’d had a bad dream.
About Bigfoot. Again.
After we’d all taken the opportunity to go to the bathroom, have a sip of water, add an extra blanket to the bed, I found I couldn’t fall back asleep.
In that pre-dawn window of skies that are still dark and a subconscious that is sleepily awake, I wandered into the dangerous territory some of you might also find familiar.
That place between sleeping and waking when our thoughts spiral in on themselves and we re-play all the worst conversations and hardest misunderstandings of the last few days, weeks, months or years.
My brain doesn’t seem to be consistent when it comes to timelines.
It simply picks the most painful things that have happened to me and then puts them on a continuous loop in my head. It’s as awesome as it sounds.
So there I was at nearly 5am lying in bed with gritted teeth and racing heart letting that terrible sense of having been wronged just well up in me and sweep through my body, as hot as the blood in my veins.
It’s a kind of spiritual torture.
How Satan will poke you and prod you with ugly thoughts that are out of context. And how he builds the whole grotesque caricature out of a small kernel of truth.
And then he’ll march that horrible collection of past hurts and warped memories across your mind at 5am like the Grim Reaper’s idea of counting sheep and you won’t be able to sleep as your heart starts to race and your sense of injustice boils over.
I used to lie immobile on my bed and let the dread spread through me from head to heart to feet.
I used to believe that I was a passive victim and that my thoughts were true and that I was entitled to the feelings that came with them.
But at 5am yesterday morning I knew that was a lie.
So I did the one thing I knew I could do – I got out of bed.
I simply stood up and walked out of the room and off the nauseating merry-go-round of angry thoughts that were battering me in the dark. I walked into the living room and sat down on the floor and felt the solid truth of the wooden planks beneath me, the chill in the air and the softness of the blanket I wrapped around me.
Because here’s the thing I’m finally learning — just because I think it, doesn’t make it true.
Every thought that comes through my mind does not have to be taken and trusted at face value.
I think we seriously and dangerously underestimate how much Satan hates relationship. How he despises friendship and all the ways it reflects the deep truth of God’s holy Trinity. And how eager he is to destroy that.
So as I sat wrapped up in a blanket, voicing my fears and then countering them out loud with the truth of Jesus, I could feel the tension and paranoia drain out of me.
There is no fear in love. 1 John 4:18.
Love one another like Jesus has loved me. John 13:34.
Forgive seventy times seven. Matthew 18:22.
Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. James 1:19.
Until slowly, sitting in the dark with the sun starting to gently warm the edges of the window frame, the last bit of tension seeped out of me and I could walk myself back to bed.
My son was snoring in the same snuffled, familiar pattern as my husband and they’d left me a sliver of the mattress to climb back into. The bed was warm and the air felt safe again and I arrived dreamless into the light of day.
It’s not the first time I’ve had this kind of experience. The kind where you’re so wound up on your own sense of unfair treatment that you plot an entire come-back conversation in your head pointing out how right you are and how wrong they are. When something quietly blocks me from opening my mouth or hitting send.
That pause, that extra moment of deliberate hesitation before giving in to my almost manic desire to stand up for myself, can be the heartbeat between a friendship’s life and death.
There is a time to share our hurts with people, for sure. There is a time to gently offer our broken bits and pieces and let them know we’re wounded. But those tender conversations don’t start out with accusation.
If we want any chance of reconciliation then our conversations have to start with compassion.
A willingness to see the other point of view first, to love the other more than yourself.
At 4am, my fears and frustrations are not kind or gentle or others’ centered. They’re dictators that want to stomp a warpath right through the lives of the people who’ve hurt me. They’re not helpful.
They don’t want future. They don’t want friendship. They only want their own way.
And nowhere in Scripture are we given the promise of getting our own way.
Instead, all through Scripture the central theme from Adam to Noah to Abraham to Ruth to David to Jesus to the disciples to the nations to us is the theme of being redeemed by God for the singular purpose of becoming a witness of that same grace, mercy, and blessing to others.
God is wildly in love with even the people who might make us the craziest. The people who are difficult and the people who are grumpy and unhelpful and hard to understand. And sometimes those people are us.
So on those days, on the days I am struggling to feel love, grace, compassion or patience toward other humans, I ask God if I can borrow His feelings.
This is the God who has loved them deeper and longer and who knows their rough edges and hurt insides better than we ever will.
And this is the God who generously pours out His love and who never runs out and who is defined by compassion and speaks in grace and walked the walk all the way to the cross and down into the dark tomb and out into the light again.
With access to that kind of love, my own tired heart can be resurrected and keep opening up to keep loving while buried deeply and safely inside the shield of His own.
He will supply you with the feelings and He will do the work – in you and through you and for you so that you can be a blessing to the women around you far beyond what you ever could have hoped or imagined.
Starting with the voice inside your own head.
(THIS BOOK!!!!) Lisa-Jo Baker is convinced that in a world where women can unfriend each other with the swipe of a finger, choosing instead to believe the best about our friends — is a radical gift.
GET THIS LIFE-CHANGING BOOK: Starting with the example of the most faithful friend who ever lived—Jesus—her new book – Never Unfriended – is a step-by-step guide to friendships you can trust. It answers the questions that lurk under the surface of every friendship—What are we afraid of? What can’t we change? What can we change? And where do we start?—with personal stories and practical tips to help you make the friends, and be the friend, that lasts.
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[ Our humble thanks to B&H Publishing for their partnership in today’s devotion ]