When Someone You Love Walks Away

Broken Heart

If you’ve ever tried to love someone and they didn’t receive it, this post is for you.

I have experience with this. Sometimes it’s just one conversation with someone and I feel completely shut down. Sometimes I spend years trying to be a friend, and ultimately the person walks away and never returns. These are really hard situations, and I think it would be easy for me to just shrug and say, “Well, it must be for the best,” or “She’ll eventually turn around,” or “God is sovereign.” While these statements may be (or are) true, I think they can keep us from facing the pain of loss. They can also keep us from coming to terms with our faith.

When a person decides your friendship isn’t worth her time anymore, it hurts. If you’re not careful, you’ll miss an opportunity to ask a critical question: How does this circumstance potentially shake my faith and invite doubt to creep in?

There was a time in my life when I lost a friendship that was very dear to me. This woman not only walked away from our friendship, but she also walked away from the Church and the Lord. I wanted to shut down my pain and just “trust the Lord.” But deep down, a storm was brewing. I spent several months white-knuckling my faith, telling everyone that I trusted the Lord’s plan. Only problem was, I didn’t believe a word of it. Why did my friend reject me? Why did she reject the Lord? Why didn’t He do more to intervene? What would happen if she died in the near future – would she go to hell? What was I supposed to do to help her?

These questions flew around in my head like a tornado. I knew I should trust the Lord, but I didn’t. I thought I had to fix something. I thought I must have done something wrong, or else maybe she wouldn’t have walked away.

A moment came when I crashed. In that moment of brokenness, I heard the gentle words of the Lord, saying it was ok for me to be sad. He wanted me to bring my grief and frustration and doubt into His throneroom. He wanted me to stop trying to be strong. He didn’t ask me to suck it up or move on. He allowed me to feel what I was feeling, just like a good counselor would do. And then in that moment (and many more to follow), He turned my heart to remind me of truth. He settled the storm.

This took time. If you’re grieving the loss of a friend, I encourage you to take your thoughts, feelings, and doubts to the Lord. He wants to be your comfort. And don’t be afraid to share with godly friends your frustrations and questions. I promise even the most godly person you know has struggled with doubt and anger. Be willing to be honest and vulnerable.

And finally, pray for wisdom. Just because someone walks away from you doesn’t mean the Lord gives you freedom to walk away as well. He calls us to continually love, even when that love isn’t reciprocated. You may not know how to do that, but He does, and He’ll show you.

Churches Need Women Leaders

“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” Ephesians 4:1

What is the calling to which we have been called? What has God specifically commissioned us to do? First He calls us to be His disciples, to deny ourselves and follow Him (Matthew 16:24), and to love Him with all that we are. Second, He calls us to love and disciple others (Matthew 28:19). I wonder if we’re making it more complicated than it has to be.

I work with leaders. These are women who have already taken up the mantle of responsibility to love and shepherd others. They are strong. They are upright in character. They are committed. But the thing I keep seeing is how timid they are.

I understand. In a church culture in which we are led well by male elders and pastors, we can easily begin to feel as if our leadership is unnecessary. We also don’t want to overstep our roles as women who desire to submit and humbly follow those in authority. But here’s what I’ve learned, both from listening to our male elders and to women in our congregation: we are necessary.

If you have any semblance of biblical knowledge, if your heart longs for the things of God, if you are fighting against sin with the power of the Holy Spirit – I promise there is a sister who needs your leadership. In fact, churches have scores of women who feel stagnant in their faith, who don’t know the Bible, and who simply don’t have the desire to follow Jesus in this season of their lives. They need someone to come alongside them and disciple them.

The problem is we tend to think there needs to be an organized program that allows us to sign our names on a list. We think someone else who’s smarter than we are has to be the one in charge, and we can just show up and follow orders. The truth is that we are not fulfilling our calling when we leave the leadership to someone else.

If your calling is to follow Christ and lead others to do the same, how are you carrying it out? In what ways are you pleading with the Lord for vision? Are you asking Him to show you how to love others with Christ-like gentleness and patience?

You may not be a master organizer or a phenomenal teacher, but you are called. Do you remember that movie “The Princess Diaries?” This normal teenager finds out she’s a princess, and then she has to learn how to fulfill that role. In the same way, we have already been called disciplers. Now we just need to learn how. And it won’t be without its bumps and bruises, but discipleship is a treasure you can’t just sit on. In fact, Jesus told a story about the wickedness of sitting on our “talents” (gifts, time, calling) instead of investing.

You matter. A lot. The lessons you’ve learned from the Lord are meant to be shared with others. You have no idea how the Lord will use you until you step out of your fear and into His calling.

I’d love to hear from you about this topic. Please leave a comment so we can continue the conversation!

Confessions of a “Fixer”

Today’s thoughts will be relevant to anyone who helps others – so I guess that means everyone. Whether you’re a mom, a teacher, a minister, or just a citizen, your hands and words and time are hopefully helping someone. I want to share something profound that I’ve been learning over the past few years of full-time ministry.

You are not responsible for people.

For those of us who are “fixers,” this is a hard statement to swallow. In fact, you may automatically want to reject it altogether. But hear me out. The Bible teaches that we are called to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), help the weak (1 Thessalonians 5:14), love one another (1 Corinthians 13), and consider others above ourselves (Philippians 2:3). But the Bible does not teach that we are responsible for change in other people’s lives. In fact, quite the contrary – the Bible teaches that only God can create change (John 16:8, 1 Corinthians 3:6-7).

I have struggled with this because the Lord has planted compassion and a strong sense of justice in my heart. When those two things combine, I feel an overwhelming urge to pick someone up and move them (spiritually speaking, of course). Get them from point A to point B. And I want to do whatever possible to make that happen. I have resorted to all sorts of tactics that really don’t exemplify the gospel at all in order to change a person.

But if 2 Corinthians 5:14 is true and the love of Christ is what controls and compels us, maybe it’s not the most loving thing to pick people up and move them from point A to point B. Maybe it’s not about whether I’m successful in my endeavors to help people change. Because maybe my desire to see someone change is really about me. Maybe I want to feel good about my ministry. Or maybe I’m afraid to feel like a failure in people’s lives. So I’m desperate to see them change.

Here’s a good indication of whether my desire for people’s change is motivated by the love of Christ or the love of my reputation: how much am I praying?

We must remember that, because only God creates change, He’s the one we must trust with the change. The only thing I’m responsible for in a person’s life is the Word of God. Am I speaking it in love? Am I following His commands to love others unselfishly, seeking their good for the sake of His glory? Do I feel responsible for their change? And if I do, why?

I’m praying that the “fixer” will die with the rest of my flesh. She’s no good to the Kingdom anyway.

Asking Tough Questions

Very few people want to be left alone when they’re suffering. They may seem stand-offish, but isolation is often the result of shame or fear. If someone you love is screening your calls (and you’re sure it’s not because you’ve been a jerk), there’s a good chance he or she needs some extra TLC. Here are a couple of examples:

A mother of two has just had her third child. She hasn’t been around much, but you figure it’s just because she’s busy with the new baby. When you talk with her, she seems very tired and talks about wanting to stay in bed all day. She has stopped attending events she would normally care about. You don’t want to pry, but you feel a little worried.

Some friends of yours got married six months ago. Whenever you see them, they always seem fine. But they frequently cancel when you try to get together with them. Then you get a message one day telling you that she’s going on an extended trip to her parents’ house to visit. Maybe it’s normal – or maybe they’re having problems in their marriage.

When people ask me what they should do when their “gut” tells them something is wrong, I always tell them to pray for wisdom and then reach out. It can’t do any harm to ask someone if they’re having problems. It doesn’t communicate that you’re nosy or pushy – in fact, just the opposite. When a friend is in trouble and she hears from you, you’ll probably be the most likely person she’ll trust with her pain.

I’ll admit – a lot of what I believe about people comes from my experience with people. And I’ve only had one experience in which I reached out to someone I thought was having trouble and she was angry. And, come to think of it, even that person was actually really hurting but just wasn’t ready to talk about it yet. Eventually even she came around because she knew I cared.

We should never be afraid to ask probing questions of people we love. Christ is our example in this – He asked lots of hard questions, and His purpose was always the changing of someone’s heart. May grace blend perfectly with truth as we walk alongside others who are fighting tough battles.