Toxic Friends

Storm's brewin'. I remember watching the skies before this one hit. I had just made it home when the skies opened up. Raindrops like paintball splotches on my shirt. Wind whipping trash and leaves down my street. Take in the perishables but leave the rest of the groceries in the car until after the rain stopped. Storms.

I had an experience Monday that struck me worse than a storm. A friendship I have done my best to maintain needed to be terminated.

It had lasted, in its crippled state, for fifteen years. She had always had a sarcastic mouth, was quick with a put-down--those seemingly innocent zingers that annoyed, and sometimes drew blood--yet always given with a quick laugh to show she was 'only joking' (Wassamatter? Can't you take a joke?)

I hadn't seen her for 6 months--about the time we were led by God to change churches. This was not a decision we took lightly--we pled for God to make His leading crystal clear, for we wanted to be totally obedient to His wooing. God gently but firmly gave His direction and we acted on it.

Within the last six months, still pleading with God to show me what to do about this situation, I reached out with a couple text messages, telling her I missed her. They were answered in that passive aggressive tone--a pattern I recognized all too well.

Monday, I had the opportunity to make a hospital visit, knowing she would be there too.

From the time I arrived, the old zingers appeared. But I could only look at her with sadness.

When I first met her, I accepted the sarcasm, the putdowns, and such; knowing she had been hurt by people in the past and this was her defense mechanism to head off being hurt again. I accepted the crumbs and worked at showing her His love as best I knew how.

Her behavior continued, as did her habits.

Something in me decided ENOUGH! on Monday.

I ignored her comments that interrupted my conversation, but was acutely aware of the passive aggression displayed there.

I cut my visit short--said polite good-byes, and left.

I brought this to the LORD in my devotional time this morning. In my journaling, I have a section called "Admits' where I come clean with what's bugging me, holding me back, and things that are consuming me, whether real or percieved. I started to write-

I'm having a hard time dealing with X's treatment of me. Her passive--aggressive thing hurt, then made me sad, for both her and her husband. I am not responsible for the actions of others. As far as it depended on me--I was peaceful, calm, and collected, but I will not put myself in such a toxic situation again. I've been nothing but kind and friendly to her over the years and I deserve better than this from her!

I paused. As soon as I wrote the words down, I felt His sweet small voice--

I know what you're going through. I deserve to be treated better, too.

Here, I'm wanting to be treated better, because I deserve better than the treatment I've been getting. You feel this way too, don't You Lord; You certainly deserve to be treated better and they killed You. Thank You for showing me this, so I may understand better. I wrote it down in my art journal so the words wouldn't slip away-

Betrayal, deceit, gossip, slander--I accepted the crumbs, because you were not able to give yourself over to genuine friendship--that was when we first met. It's been over 15 years now, I deserve better than this from you. I was saddened by your response to my attempt to 'be there for you'. Sarcasm? Put downs? No thank you.

LORD, You have shown me the grief in me--I need to let myself grieve--and get past it. The best way I know how is to run to You.

So here I am to worship...

Christmas RUSH -- Only 4 Days Left!

Are you pulling your hair out yet? Are you checking off items from your to-do list? Is your credit card about ready to melt from all of the activity it's seen? Have you fallen into the retailer's trap of, "Oh, don't forget about So-&-So's gift!" Or the ever popular, "Do we have enough? Better to have too much than not enough!" No, we want to be the ones with the seemingly endless larder; the "hostess-with-the-mostess" or "You can always count on the (insert-name-here) to put on a great showing".

How often do we spent so much time rushing about, with our arms full, checking and rechecking every last detail, until it all becomes too much and we simply collapse in the chair? We run ourselves ragged, with all our doing and doing.

When do we take the time to just be?

To just be in fellowship with friends we pass by quickly?

To just be sitting next to our spouse, watching a silly Christmas movie we've seen at least once every year?

To just be quiet, with God, His book open in our lap.

To just be?

To accept His Grace, His Son, His Gift to each and every one of us?

God cannot pour His Riches of His Presence into hands already full.

Black Friday Tidbits and Thoughts

I have chosen to skip Black Friday shopping this year. My family is small, I have no little ones to shop for, and I got laid off from my full time job in June 2011. My son is grown, living in another state and will not be home for the holidays at all this year. We have decided to celebrate Christmas in May 2012, when he graduates from college. We have all we need. I will not go into deeper debt to buy things that will be discarded or end up at a spring yardsale. Paul and Timothy made it clear in this passage-

"Actually, I don't have a sense of needing anything personally. I've learned by now to be content whatever my circumstances. I'm just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I've found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am. (Phillipians 4:10-13 The Message)

I have already recieved the greatest gift; my salvation in believing Jesus Christ died for me on the cross. Do you have this assurance in your heart? I pray, dear reader, you do. And if you don't, or aren't sure, please read aloud the following prayer:

Dear Jesus, I know I've messed up in my life. Things have become more important to me than You are. I believe You are LORD and I believe in my heart that God raised You from the dead. You died for me, so I can have eternal life in Heaven. I invite You, LORD Jesus, to come into my heart and to help me live my life for You, not me. Thank You LORD Jesus, for saving me from my sins and washing me clean as snow. Amen.

If you have just prayed this prayer, and you really meant it, God really means it too. He has saved you and you will go to Heaven when you die. You have just recieved the greatest gift there is -- a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. If you have recieved Jesus as your LORD and Savior, please make a comment below -- I would like to welcome you into God's family and help you grow as a Christian.