Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Signs Of A Good Friend (chapter 9)

AUTHOR NOTES
Read Ruth 1:19
 
Friendship "...is a sore spot with countless widows. If you feel neglected and hurt by your old friends, you are not alone! Part of the problem is that our society does not know how to handle grief. They’re afraid! Another part of the problem is that our society (and, often our church) does not know how to help single women. But at the very base of what happens with old friendships is simply a phenomenon of group dynamics. Friendships with other couples constitute a group. When one person of that group is removed, the entire group dynamic is changed. I’m sad to say it will never be the same again. It’s nothing personal. It’s not your fault or theirs. It’s just the nature of group dynamics.

In the meantime, while we get bogged down with the mental and emotional gymnastics of misplaced judgments and the shape-shifting nature of group dynamics, we fail to understand and accept that during a time of grief, friendships become a revolving door. Old friends may leave, but new friends will arrive. If we only watch the exit door, we will fail to notice the new people coming through the entrance...."
I noticed four signs that Ruth was a good friend for Naomi:
  • She was available
  • She was committed
  • She was acquainted with grief
  • She had a higher priority in life than her own feelings
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
(chapter 9 of Postcards, and Ruth 1:10-22)

How about you? How have friendships changed for you since your husband died? What signs of a good friend would be most significant to you?

PRAYER

Dear Lord,
Please open my eyes to see the friends I already have and the new ones you’re sending my way. Thank you for each one of them. Also, please show me who needs me to be their friend.
Amen.

10 comments:

  1. My latest friend loss has been my very best friend of 34 years. I noticed communication was becoming less and less. She wouldn't return my call or a letter I wrote sweetly confronting her about this change in our relationship. I have accepted that our friendship is over, but find it very painful. How do you not take it personal when everything in your life changes when your spouse dies?

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  2. Dear Candy, I'm so sorry to hear about this broken friendship. A friendship of 34 years is such a treasure that it can't help but be anything but very personal and very painful. I'm immediately concerned too---is she well? Are there some pressures going on in her life that she can't get back to you? Sometimes friendships do wane for years at a time, but always leave out the welcome mat, and watch for new friends coming along. hugs to you.

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  3. My closest friend of almost 40 years has walked away too.haven't seen or heard from her in over a year. I seen her a couple of times after my husband death in June 2012. I did try calling her several times then finally got a hold of her. I thought maybe she was Sick or something but immediately on the phone she proceeded to tell me how much fun she was having! I told her someone was at the door and hung up. Haven't heard from her since over a year ago.it just tells me I was a better friend to her then she was to me just like my husband use to tell me. This is very painful to me. It adds another layer of pain to my loss.I'm trying not to be so hurt but the truth is I am.this I will never understand. Is this the Lord weeding out old friends that aren't good for me or what?

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  4. Dear Anonymous, It sounds like maybe your husband was right, I'm sorry to say. And maybe the Lord is doing some "weeding" in your life right now. It does hurt, but God is faithful. Make sure of your relationship with Him, and know that He promises to complete His good work in you. (Philippians 1:6) Pray for some new friends, and then as you go through your daily life reach out to people around you and see which ones God has sent. It takes time to develop friends, but they're out there when we're ready. I'm looking forward to hearing back from you about what the Lord is doing for you!

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    1. Dear Ferree,
      Thank you so much for responding. I need to know if I should confront this old friend of mine to let her know how much she hurt me or should I let it go? I waited for many months for her to call me but only to be disappointed. I thought we were very close. I know people have their own lives to live. I realize I'm not the center of anyones universe. Thank you for listening.

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  5. That's a really good question, and its good that you clearly see the two choices you have---confront her or let it go. There are some verses in the Bible that can help with this, so I'd urge you to consider searching them out. Ephesians 4:31,32 I think will help you discover God's concern for how you handle this. Forgiveness doesn't mean you'll forget and act as if nothing happened, but it will give you the freedom to turn her over to the Lord. Then He can begin to confront her, and He'll engineer circumstances to provide a way for the two of you to reconcile, should she be willing. If she's not willing, then you'll have a clear conscience knowing that you've put this in God's hands. It'll take some prayer and some waiting, but God can move her. Once you've forgiven her in your own heart (it's not something you'd announce to her), then look to the others around you and how you can begin to relate to them and bless their lives. I'm sorry this is such a brief general counsel, but if you'd like, please email me at WCplace@gmail.com May God bless your friendships and future!

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    1. Thank you Feerre for your response. By the way I have have nothing to forgive her for. I'm not holding any anger toward her. I think it is what it is. I was just wondering if I should let her know about the pain she caused me. I think I should just let it go and make new friends. I wish her well.

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  6. This is a fascinating conversation. My "best friend" of around 20 years has walked away, too. It caused me to do a lot of soul searching. In looking back, I can now see behaviour patterns that were unhealthy, but that I was totally unaware of. When she would do things that made me feel uncomfortable, I would, unconsciously, just push those feelings down. I wasn't even really aware of them. Now I'm realizing that it is important to recognize and name the feelings as they come. There was a good reason I was uncomfortable. She was overstepping some boundaries.

    As a Christian, I was taught about the good emotions, but not about how to handle the "negative" ones. Repressing them, even unconsciously, can lead to resentment or even illness.

    Although I did have a meeting with her in a neutral environment to address things, I can sense that this friendship will not work right now. The trust and openness and common perspective are gone. I will bless her and pray for her, but release her to God.

    I know that God can bring other, better friends into my life, and He certainly is doing that. And I am very grateful for what I am learning about being emotionally healthy. I am learning that I have options, that I can say "NO", that I must be wise and discerning in my choice of friends. But that "gut reaction" is also a great red flag and I need to pay attention to it. There are times to walk away from unhealthy situations.

    I am also learning new strategies of behaviour in dealing with the various emotions. One helpful way of "pouring out our heart" or "casting our care" is to write out feelings in a journal. It is cathartic and cleansing and can be discarded. It helps to clarify our muddled thoughts. It helped me to recognize the patterns I did not want in my life and the way I did want to live my life.

    We, as widows, need to be especially vigilant, I think. We are vulnerable in many ways. So there is a great need to take care of ourselves and to guard ourselves against unwarranted intrusions into our energy, time, privacy, and space. May God give us the grace and wisdom we need to make good choices toward wholesome growth and healthy living.

    God bless us, everyone.
    Honey Bee


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  7. Good for you, may God bring some new friends along who are able to stick with you through life's joys and sorrows. Thanks so much for your openness and sharing today.

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  8. Honey Bee,
    As always, it's so wonderful to hear from you. (I'm sorry Blogger sort of jumbled the order of these comments. Hope everyone can figure them out).
    Journalling is a great tool to recommend and often we can read back in our journals and begin to recognize those patterns of negative and unhealthy behaviors. You've gained some very valuable insights---and paid a deep price for them, but they are real wisdom and treasure. It's always hard to lose a friendship, but sometimes its for the good. May the Lord bless your sweet healing.
    Widows are very vulnerable, and sometimes so lonely, so I think your words will help alert them to take stock of their situations and the people who are influencing them. Thanks so much!

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