As a society, we not only want instant gratification- we expect it. But growing in our relationship with Christ isn’t necessarily quick. There is no instant download to encountering God. Teresa Swanstrom Anderson knows this better than most. An unlikely mom of six (2 bio + 4 from Ethiopia) and a pink-haired theologian, she’s learned the hard way how to choose the path of steady spiritual growth; and seen the fruit come forth in her family and friendships. It’s a grace to welcome Teresa to the farm’s front porch today…
Friends breathe life into my soul, just as I’m sure they do yours. But like any healthy relationship, true friendships sometimes have growing pains.
There will be moments when we find ourselves in conflict and need to figure out what to do in the midst of it, right? We need to learn how to grow deeper as friends through difficulty, rather than allowing it to break the closeness.
Recently, a friend and mentor accused me of something that made my heart incredibly heavy. I didn’t see it coming and didn’t understand how she thought that of me.
I literally felt sick all day and went to bed early with a migraine. My thoughts and prayers swirled through the afternoon and evening hours as I went first to God, and then to my husband and dearest friends, placing this person’s accusation at their feet for examination.
“Here’s the evidence. Look at it. Sift through it; dig deeply,” I told them. “Did I do this? Am I doing this?”
I was doubled over in anxiety as I asked the Lord and my friends who know me best to share honestly.
I wanted to know the truth so I could grow and ask forgiveness if indeed this accusation was true. Because if so, I had some serious heart-searching to do. What I was being accused of is not reflective of the type of person I want to be.
I called my best friend to tearfully vent, and toward the end of our phone conversation, she said something like this:
“You need to stop and seriously ask God to show you the insides of your heart. Lean into it, even if it’s hard and yucky. Who are you at the core, really? Ask Him, being honestly willing to hear His response. Take time in silence with the Lord and go through everything in your mind like you’re unpacking a suitcase . . . taking items out, one by one. Let Him show you if there is sin here.”
What wise advice. I just love having friends that are deeper and wiser than I.
I am still completely and totally devastated. And truthfully, I am really embarrassed that someone would think this thing of me. But I don’t believe I did what she has said.
I did take my heart to God, and I’m okay with what He unearthed in response. (Not that I don’t need to grow in areas, of course. We all need to grow, right?)
If I were laying my story next to David’s in Psalm 59, though, I’d tell you quite honestly, I felt that this person was ready to attack. And she did, to some extent.
Let’s look at Psalm 59:3 (tpt):
See how they set an ambush for my life.
They’re fierce men ready to launch their attack against me.
O Lord, I’m innocent; protect me!
In this situation with my friend, I was worried she was going to start spreading her thoughts and lies through our mutual friends. I was afraid she was going to post it on social media and disrupt my ministry. I was scared, and, like David, I felt ambushed.
Yes, my situation is tame compared to David’s. Thankfully, I don’t have mercenaries stationed outside my home just waiting to kill or capture me the moment I walk out my front door.
What I do have though, is a situation where I was afraid the lie was going to swirl around and touch many aspects of my community.
Has someone ever spread venom or lies about you, in jealousy or malcontent? How did you handle it? Did you wig out and try to fix things yourself?
Or did you drop to your knees and plead that you would feel the Lord’s presence as He walked beside you in it? Or were you like me and do a bit of both?
In the wake of lies, death follows. In 1 Samuel 15, the story Psalm 59 emerged out of, Saul thought something incorrect about David (that he was trying to steal the throne), and he tried to kill him. My friend and mentor thought something incorrect about me, and she severed all ties. The death of that friendship breaks my heart.
What can you draw from any hurt you may feel?
Are you able to see God moving through it in spite of it . . . or because of it?
Can you praise Him for walking with you through this pain? Are you able to see the love and kindness of others as you’ve lived through it? Or are you feeling lonely and abandoned, like He’s the only one you have left?
God offers us encouragement, hope, consolation, and direction when we come to Him in the midst of our struggle.
He speaks to us through His Spirit, equips us with self-control, reminds us of His love, and surrounds us with people who can speak life into our darkness.
To say yes to God, no matter what season or situation we’re in, we have to first be honest with Him about the reality of our pain.
We’ve all been hurt and lied to and deceived—and we’ve all had jealousy coursing through our veins at times too!
God isn’t dismissive or judgmental of our honest pain.
He wants us to bring it to Him so He can help us pursue life and healing.
Teresa Swanstrom Anderson is an unlikely mom of six (2 bio + 4 from Ethiopia). She is a community builder, party and beauty lover, author, speaker, and huge Bible nerd. Her passion is helping overwhelmed women learn to slow down with Scripture, say YES to God, lead wherever they are, and create a life they love.
The Get Wisdom Bible Studies, Saying Yes in the Darkness: 7 Weeks in the Book of Psalms, Living for What Really Matters: 7 Weeks in the Book of Philippians, and Leading Where You Are: 7 Weeks in the Book of Joshua, are rich in depth and approachable for new and longtime readers of the Bible alike. They don’t skim the surface but go deep into the truths of Scripture. We don’t have time for fluff!
[ Our humble thanks to NavPress for their partnership in today’s devotion ]