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...