Unfriended

Did you ever see those friendship bracelets when you were a kid? You know, the ones with charms that corresponded to the one on your very best friend’s jewelry? Those were awesome to have, a tangible expression of friendship that brought with it a small sense of security that you would be best buds for life. {In fact, they often said something cheesy to that affect.} 

How about this: have you ever watched a heartbreak occur as one little girl on the playground offends her bestest pal, causing her to yank off her sacred band of friendship and chuck it in the sand, tossing a terse “You’re not my best friend anymore” comment over her shoulder as she stomps off? The offender either stares blankly at the defiled, sandy token, paralyzed with shame and hurt, or responds with a furious, “I hate you” as she stomps in the opposite direction. 
Well, adults don’t typically use friendship charms {or do they, and I’m out the loop?}. Fortunately for us, Facebook unfriending has provided a virtual version of this scenario. Some stare uncomprehendingly at the “request friend” button on the page of their once friend’s wall while others angrily imagine up, or type up, curt, cutting remarks in retaliation of this audacious breach of sisterhood. 
I’ve been there, on both ends of the emotional spectrum. And I just wanted to share what God has been teaching me about how to biblically respond to rejection. Because it happens, and it hurts. 
1. Let the Holy Spirit remind you of who you are as you preach truth to yourself.  

Created. You were created with a need for companionship. God said, “It is not good for man to be alone” {Gen. 2:18}. When fellowship with someone you love is broken, it hurts and that’s ok. Don’t pretend like everything is alright when it isn’t. 
Adopted. You are a child of God. While you were still offensive to God, He sought you out and adopted you into His family {Rom. 5:10}. 
Accepted. You never have to fear rejection or condemnation from your Heavenly Father if you have been adopted through Jesus. He accepts Jesus, and if you are in Christ Jesus, you are accepted too {Rom. 8}. 
2. Seek reconciliation for the sake of making God’s name big. 

This was a tough one for me to understand. I’m a fixer. I don’t like when things are broken. And when it comes to relationships, I’ll obsess over what’s wrong and try to manipulate to reach a solution. These actions are all indicators that my motives for restoration are usually about me, how I feel, how I want to prove my rightness in a particular disagreement, how I want everyone to be happy with me. 
Robert Cheong defines forgiveness as “a work of God’s love in the human soul that compels one to give oneself for another, despite being sinned against, so that the other might love God more deeply” {empahsis mine}.  
What should drive me is the motivation to make God’s name big, to bring Him glory. Seeking reconciliation should be about reflecting the beautiful work of the Father in redeeming us through Jesus. It should seek to make Jesus evident to those we’ve offended and those who have offended us. 
3. When appropriate, contact the offended/offender
It’s always a good idea to contact someone, in as personal a way as possible {in-person visit or phone call}, that you know you’ve offended. Let them know you are open to hearing them out and ask the Spirit for humility as you listen and seek to respond {Matt. 5:23, 24}. 
Contacting someone who has offended you is a little trickier of an issue to handle, especially if they’re far away. There are two principles I operate on in this situation. 
{1} pray. Pour out your hurt to your Father and ask Him for comfort, humility in responding, and wisdom for how to go about seeking reconciliation. 
{2} understand. Just as you reflect God’s mercy in offering forgiveness, you reflect God’s justice in acknowledging the wrong that has been done. 
Mike Wilkerson, in his book Redemption, puts it this way: 

“. . . we should forgive a genuine debt. God knows exactly what sins he forgives. There is no turning a blind eye . . . He knew you were a sinner when he sent his Son to the cross for you . . . When we forgive, it is fitting that we name the sin and the sinner, and we condemn the sin as wrong.” 

This doesn’t mean that love doesn’t “cover a multitude of sins” {Prov. 10:12}.  “Or, as Tolstoy put it, to forgive is to ‘swallow’ evil and prevent it from going further” {Redemption, p. 81}. There are times when this kind of silence is called for, and that’s where prayer comes in. 
4. Look to Jesus 

Jesus suffered the ultimate rejection. “He was despised and rejected by men” {Is. 53:3}. His Father turned his back on Him while He suffered the greatest wrong ever done {Matt. 27:46}. And yet He forgave His offenders in order to express the greatest good ever given {Lk. 23:34}. He knows this pain like no one else ever will, and is therefore able to comfort those who experience it {Heb. 2:14-18}. 
There is so much hurt that happens in this sinful world. Christ is making all things new however, and the new song He’s put in my heart and yours is meant to be sung as the means for bringing others to His redemption {Ps. 40:3}.
Let’s sing. 
{If you’re unsure of what this whole “redemption” thing is about and would like to know more, I’d love to talk to you. Leave a comment, and I’ll get in touch!}

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