I could feel myself sliding into a funk.
Traveling with a group of my closest friends over the last several years had always been restorative. Relaxing. Outrageously fun. But now it had taken on additional layers. Somehow drama and dysfunction had been introduced into the mix this time around, a complication that had never been a part of any previous experience.
Looked at through a particular lens, you could say it made us more like a family. After all, families are imperfect, right? And it doesn’t mean we don’t love each other. (I rather prefer that view.)
It started with a minor misunderstanding that morphed into hurt feelings and doubts about motives. Tears. Words. Then hugs. Forgiveness.
And for me, a lingering darkness. Here’s why.
One incident is never one incident for me.
These things trigger memories of prior hurts and harshness. My history of blunders and loss – even though forgiven and buried by Christ – gets resurrected and I start allowing accusations into my mind that aren’t from God.
“It was a great run but it’s over now.”
“Your friends are going to go their separate ways, it’s only a matter of time.”
“Nothing is forever.”
“You can’t depend on other people.”
“You’ll end up alone.”
It doesn’t help that this recent introduction of dysfunction into my close knit group of friends came closely on the heels of another, not dissimilar experience. A different group of friends, a different set of circumstances. But the hurt was the same, just more specific and personal with the earlier group.
I was in crisis, they didn’t engage. I reached out, they barely responded.
It felt wrenchingly like rejection, though I tried to believe I was over-reacting.
It’s not that they didn’t care, I thought at the time, it’s just that everyone’s busy, we miss cues, and forget to pay attention. But next thing you know, I’m hearing this:
“Your important relationships are imploding.”
“Your life is falling apart.”
“The common denominator is you.”
“You’re on your own.”
See what happened there? If I don’t correct this line of thinking quickly, it runs away with me and I’m in full-on self-contempt mode.
That’s for sure not from God.
Pretty soon I’m checking out and isolating, “protecting myself” when it’s me who’s attacking me. (Or Satan, if you believe as I do that he is the real enemy who wants to destroy us.)
But here’s the thing. The truth is all through the Bible. I know that. The messages above about how hopeless my life is? They’re not true. Here’s an example of truth from the Old Testament:
“I have loved you with an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness.
I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt . . .
and go out to dance with the joyful.” Jeremiah 31:3-4
And this from the New Testament:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.” Romans 5:5
One of the best books (besides the Bible) I’ve ever read on this is John Eldredge’s Walking With God. In it, he shares how to really hear God’s voice – not that other one – with more clarity than we ever thought possible. In those moments of weakness like I was just describing, we unknowingly make agreements with the enemy (Satan) and those agreements become part of our life’s narrative when it doesn’t have to be that way.
Eldredge explains that Satan is always trying to get us to do to others what he is trying to do to them. In my case, he gets me to do the dirty work on myself. And if I’m not really careful, I find myself cooperating!
I’ve learned I have to recognize these false messages and counter them with truth.
Isolation is not freedom, I can tell you that.
If you’re an extreme feeler or quick to condemn yourself, you, too, need to camp out in the specific Scriptures that speak the truth about how loved you are by God and let the words wash over you, scrubbing off all that other stuff.
My friendships and other close relationships are precious to me, but they represent an area of deep vulnerability that I have to guard fiercely with truth and love. It costs too much to do otherwise.
Have you ever engaged in negative self-talk and made agreements about your value that weren’t true?
What suggestions do you have for changing that narrative?
- Maybe This Will Help - February 10, 2017
- I’m Firing Olivia Pope - January 24, 2017
- I’m crossing some things off my list this year - January 11, 2017
- I learned a new word - November 30, 2016
- The best question I’m asking myself these days - July 18, 2016
- A tragic story with a tender twist - May 17, 2016
- Gosh, people are a mess - May 12, 2016
- I’ll take the red carnation, thank you – revisiting an odd tradition - May 2, 2016
- The surprising thing about “weakness” - April 20, 2016
- The holiness of a four-way stop - April 13, 2016