Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brokeness, Friendships, LIGHT and a Mosaic of Redemption

I'm in a funk.  A very dark funk.  I've been doing everything I know to do to climb out, but I honestly just don't even have the energy to climb.

My friend Kathy called me yesterday, and during our conversation I told her, "I feel like I'm in a deep, dark hole that I can't climb out of."

Her response, "Then I will climb in the hole with you and help push you out."

I don't think Kathy has any idea what those words meant to me.  After we hung up I laid down to try to take a nap, and I started thinking through all she said to me during our 35 minute conversation.

Kathy and I have been friends for 24 years.  There was about a 12 year gap where we lost touch.  We both married and had children, and through the busyness of life we lost touch.  We reconnected when my family started attending the church we attend now, and we literally picked up where we left off.

I love Kathy.  I don't easily call someone my friend, but I consider Kathy one of my most treasured friends.  I think we tend to overuse that word.  We call people "friends" on Facebook, and let's be honest.  Most of those "friends" are really just acquaintances.  How many of them could you call if you needed them?  How many of them would you trust your heart to?  I have 793 Facebook friends at the moment, but the number of them I would call if I needed help is no where near that number.

For me to call someone a friend I have to trust them.  And I just don't easily give out trust.  My husband is the type of person who will trust someone until they prove to be untrustworthy.  You know how we are supposed to believe the best about one another?  Well, my husband does this very well.  I am just the opposite.  I don't trust someone until they have proven themselves trustworthy, and I'm not the greatest in believing the best of people.  I'm working on that, and I'm better at it than I used to be.  However, I still have a long way to go in that area.

A friend loves at all times ... ~ Proverbs 17:17

A friend, a true friend, is someone who loves you unconditionally.  Someone who you count on to be there when you need them, but someone who also counts on you to be there when they need you.  Friendship is a two-way street folks.  You also have to be trustworthy and love unconditionally.  I do believe there are different levels of friendship.  There are, in the words of a 12 year-old, our best, best friends.  And then there are friends who we aren't as close to.

I consider Kathy to be one of my closest friends.  One of the things I love most about our friendship is how completely, sometimes brutally, honest we are with each other.  We know each other's hearts.  We know we each love the other unconditionally, and our desire for each other is for us to grow in our love for the Lord, to know and understand the TRUTH about God's word and show that love to those around us.  That truly is the foundation of our friendship.

A friend loves at all times, and sometimes love doesn't come in a nice, pretty package with a beautiful bow on top.  Sometimes love means confronting each other with the truth.  More often than not, the truth can sting.

Especially when your heart is believing lies.

Kathy prefaced what she had to say to me with, "You know I love you, and you know my heart.  BUT ..."

If she had been sitting in front of me she would have seen my eyes roll as I thought, "Here we go.  She's going to fuss at me and tell me all the things I'm doing wrong."

That's not exactly what happened though.

Instead she listened.  She listened to me as I shared my broken heart with her.  She didn't judge.  She didn't fuss.  She listened.

"I'm sorry your hurting.  What can I do to help?  I want to help you."  She probably said those words a dozen times.

Kathy also very gently started combating the lies going through my head.

"I'm worthless.  God can't use me.", I told her.

"But He has, and He is using you."  And then she gave me examples.

And then she told me she would climb in the dark hole with me and push me out.

So often we claim to be someone's friend, but when push comes to shove that's not really the case.  We want to be friends with the one who makes us laugh.  We want to be friends with someone who is happy and loving life.  Those "friendships" are easy.

But are they really friendships?

Most of us have someone like that in our lives.  Someone we love to be around because they make us laugh and feel good.  But if your hurting ... your heart is broken ... is that the person you would call and know they would love you unconditionally?  Or would they just try to joke about your circumstances and try to make you laugh?  So often we do this because pain makes us uncomfortable, and we don't really know what to do with broken hearts.

It's not easy to walk along side of someone who is hurting.  It can be tiresome, and can even make you feel weary yourself.  But that's what a true friend does.

And they climb in the hole with you and push your out when your too weak to climb.

Nothing about my conversation with Kathy "fixed" my broken heart.  It still hurts.  I'm still weary and the world still seems awfully dark to me.

But when satan tries to tell me, "No one cares.  No one loves you." I can lament on my conversation with Kathy.

Ultimately what Kathy said in those 35 minutes was, "I love you, and more importantly your Heavenly Father loves you."  I know she's praying for me, and that makes my burden just a little bit lighter.

I keep thinking about what my friend Connie said to me on Saturday, "Whispers are so loud in the dark."

Satan keeps whispering lies in my ear, and because I'm in a dark hole they keep echoing in my heart.  So, I'm having to be purposeful in shining a light, THE LIGHT of all lights, into this dark hole.  I keep reading scripture, and I've re-read sermon notes.

In reading sermon notes this is what I discovered ...

Highlighted in pink and underline twenty times, "Are ready to go, but are you willing to stay?"

My former pastor Caleb probably said this half a dozen times in different sermons.  Kathy asked me yesterday, "Are you safe?"

I am.  I'm hurting, and I'm longing for heaven.  I would love nothing more than for Jesus to come back today.  I'm not going to lie.  Thoughts of wishing I were dead instead of hurting so much have crossed my mind, but they've only been fleeting thoughts.

I have two daughters that need me, even in the broken mess I am in right now.  This is temporary.  I don't know how temporary, but like Paul says ...

 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, ~ 2 Corinthians 4:17

Connie has taught a ladies' retreat titled, "The Beauty of Brokenness".  She talks about how God takes all the broken pieces of our lives and makes a beautiful mosaic out of them.

A mosaic that is such a beautiful picture of His grace, mercy and love.  A beautiful picture of His redemptive story.

That is my hope.  That one day God will take my brokenness and make a beautiful mosaic, and when people look at it all they see is His grace, mercy and love.

His redeeming love.

The world seems very dark to me right now, but I know where to find the Light.

He's actually with me always.  Never leaving me and never forsaking me.  I just need to remember to grab onto Him.

And I'm grateful for friends who point me to that Light.  Friends that are willing to climb in the darkness and push me out.

Pushing me out with TRUTH.  The truth about my Heavenly Father who loves me unconditionally.

The TRUTH about my Redeemer.

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