One day several years ago, I saw a good friend, LeAnn and I immediately knew something was wrong. I ask her how she was doing but immediately I got the feeling she was not happy with me. I continue to watch LeAnn interact with others in a normal way, she seemed happy, except for when I would try to talk to her. My mind was racing trying to think of anything that I could have done or said that would have offended or upset her. I was absolutely clueless. I let it go that day, but within a week or so, I reached out to her again and ask her more directly what was wrong? She indicated everything was “fine”. Now when we ladies say we are “fine”….often we are NOT! It was hurtful that this long time close friend was pulling away for reasons I didn’t know or understand. In those early days and weeks, it was painful and weighed heavy on my mind, so all I knew to do was pray for her and her family. Some of our mutual friends that could tell something was up, would encourage me not to take it personally, but it certainly felt personal.
LeAnn and I still saw each other occasionally because we had mutual friends and we were always cordial with each other, but our friendship was clearly not what it had been. Then about a year or so after that initial disconnect, she called me and ask if I would meet her for coffee. I have to be honest, as curious as I was, I wasn’t sure I wanted to open myself up for whatever this was. I prayed a lot before we met and I tried to go in with an open heart and mind. She fairly quickly brought up the obvious, the distance we had in our friendship. She brought up a story from that time period a year earlier. As I had thought, something had happened that made her very upset and disappoint with me. A mutual friend, Betty, that had known us both for years had finally convinced her to address it with me. Betty had always felt like there was probably a lot more to the story and that LeAnn should at least give me the opportunity to explain my side of it. The funny or sad thing was up to this point, I didn’t even know I had a side of the story!
Long story short, there had been a misunderstanding with another mutual friend of ours that I had helped when they were in a crisis situation. LeAnn, by her own admission deals with insecurities and trust issues. I was well aware of this, so I had always tried to be sensitive to that. Unfortunately, this time I didn’t realize she had gotten some incorrect information and really for the most part just didn’t have enough information to understand what had actually taken place with this other mutual friend and her family. Please understand, I am not saying I handled everything correctly when our mutual friend had the crisis in her family. We were making a lot of decisions quickly and my focus was on them. My immediate reaction to LeAnn, I was just so sorry she was hurt by something that I wasn’t even aware of (how many know that hurting people often hurt others).
Part of me was so relieved we could get this out in the open and clear it up. I could tell she was feeling that as well. She was lighthearted and smiling with me again. But then as I sat there with this now awkward and distant friend, I felt sad. We both really still had wounds from this that needed to heal. I had built walls up with this relationship to protect myself, from the months of rejection that I didn’t understand. Now I was starting to deal with new emotions. I was starting to feel frustration. Why didn’t this longtime friend, know and trust me enough to one, either know there was probably a reason for my actions during that time or two, care and appreciate our friendship enough to confront me right after all this had happen.
Both these friends have moved since all this and I am thankful to say LeAnn and I were able to build back a friendship, even though it has never been the same. In recent years when I have seen her we still greet each other with a warm smile and a hug.
Lysa TerKeurst, has a new book called Uninvited. I haven’t read it yet, but at a recent conference I was able to hear her share some stories from it. One of the quotes she uses in the book is: What we see will violate what we know unless what we know dictates what we see. It’s in her chapter called “Hello, My Name Is Trust Issues”.
I know much of this can pertain to marriage as well. Once many years ago, at a Christmas family get together on my husband’s side, I had someone call me out in front of everyone, to say that a friend of hers had seen me leaving my work with some man, one day at lunchtime. That got the attention of everyone, because I worked with a bunch of ladies. I questioned when it was, I said “I’ve never went to lunch with a guy from work”. Then she began to make it sound even more suspicious. She said “my friend said you all defiantly looked like you were together, oh, I’m sorry, maybe I shouldn’t have said anything”. All I could think was, I eat at my desk every day! Funny enough the person least interested in this conversation was my husband… why? I had never given him any reason to have any concern. He knew there was no reason to give this any energy. Finally, she remembered it was on Halloween that I left with this “man” …then it dawns on me, the man, was my husband! I was so thankful I stopped that bad seed that was being planted before it had ANY roots!
In regards to friendships, what do you know, that you know, that you know about that close friend(s). If you have ever had a really close friend, you know how valuable they are, how they can make you a better person when you are with them. You have a person you can shoot a quick text to at any time, to ask them to be praying. Don’t let something or someone violate what you know, don’t be easily offended (really by anybody!), fight to protect those friendships! Don’t let bad seeds grow roots! The devil certainly doesn’t want us to have these strong friendships or strong marriages. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. If one falls down, her friend can help her up. But pity the person who falls and has no one to help them up! Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands (having God in the relationship) is not quickly broken.
All relationships can be and probably will be complicated at some point, but the good ones are so worth the effort!
*Disclaimer, I did not use my friends’ actual names*