Friday, January 29, 2010

Joy, boundaries, and brokenness

I have made a friend in the course of the past couple of months. She is a new believer and gone through some things in her life that have been very difficult. God is slowly changing her thought patterns, and freeing her from her past.

It has been amazing to see the growth in her in just the past couple of months. And that in nothing compared to the changes that have happened in the past couple of years.

To top it all off, she is a single mom of a 16yr old boy. Up to this point, this young man has seen that his mother is "light" and he was "dark" (as he put it in the words he knew).

Very perceptive.

He has had a friend that goes to our church... that he goes to school with. He slowly over the last 4 months or so, would occasionally ask his mom about God. He was willing to listen sometimes, and was glad for her, but it wasn't for him.

The friend that he goes to school with - well, they just became really good friends this year. My friends son, well, just thinks he is awesome, and finally found out that his friend went to our church.

This friend invited him to our youth group 3 weeks ago. He loved it! Then he came to church with his mom and his friend and friend's family. He stayed for the community group/sunday school time after church. He loved it!

He got his first bible from his friend. He started reading it right away!

Last week, he went to youth group again with his friend. Our associate pastor, who helps lead the youth group, spoke very strongly about the importance of making a decision for Christ, especially in the light of Haiti - and you never know when.

Pastor strongly urged the youth to not leave the building that night without knowing where they were going.

My friend's son grabbed Pastor Brad a bit later, and said he wanted to know more about this salvation thing. Pastor Brad grabbed his friend, and the two of them led this young man to the Lord.

Now my friend and her son are both "light." She has her son back, knowing he is Christ's now, and they are learning and growing together. He even came to church this past week, when his mom was working.

God is SO good. What an amazing change! We are still celebrating how God has worked in their lives.


God gave me and my new friend the chance to talk this week... I wasn't too busy at work, and the phone didn't ring too much while we were talking.

He has been helping her draw some boundaries in her life, because she hasn't really known how to do that before. Slowly God is maturing her, not only in relationship with Him, but also growing her emotionally out of where she was stuck for so long.

We have gotten to know each other pretty well in the past couple of months. Especially in the last 4 weeks or so, we have spent some good time together, and shared quite openly.

I had been aware her boundary issues, so it was in the back of my mind, as we grew to know each other... and I was aware of it because I too used to have boundary issues. I still do in some ways, and there are old tapes that play in my head, and I am having to learn new boundaries with my job now.

As we talked this week, she shared how over the past week she had really been struggling and didn't know why. But God finally revealed why to her. She said that she really needed to draw some boundaries for herself. She was realizing that she was starting to slide down a "slippery slope" as she called it. She needed to back off and start over in our friendship. More slowly, instead of jumping in so quickly to getting to know each other. There is much more there, but that is all I am free to share here.

I apologized for calling so much and kind of pushing myself on her - offering to go for coffee or a meal two weeks in a row besides seeing her at church and our small group.

It was a good conversation. I came away from it really feeling ok about it.

After my long weekend at the church, I left a bit early from work on Tuesday. I headed home and was able to spend some time with God. Our senior Pastor had talked about the benefits of self-examination this past Sunday. Without realizing it, that is exactly what I did that afternoon. I spent time before God and sought His guidance and light to shine on anything that I might have done wrong, so that I wouldn't do it again.

Finally, I slept for a bit. Had a rough night's sleep that night, and went to work the next day. Just over the course of the day, through our women's retreat meeting that afternoon, I just became so aware of what the enemy was trying to do, among the leaders, among the women attending, to keep them from coming, to hinder their time at the retreat.

At about 4pm, Wednesday I got the church to myself. Everyone had left early to eat and rest up for the night of youth, AWANA, etc. I wandered my way into the sanctuary.

There I kind of had a melt down. I am ashamed to say that God revealed pride in my heart towards my relationship with my friend. What arrogance! And what childishness too, in the way I was reacting within myself to our conversation from the day before.

I can "defend" myself by saying it seemed to tap into some old insecurities and rejections, and that was part of what I was reacting to. But God just took the time to reveal areas that I hadn't been honoring Him in.

I repented and spent significant time at the foot of the cross in there. Seeking forgiveness. Interceding for the women coming on the retreat. Interceding for my friend. Seeking wholeness and healing for myself. Asking God to fill the emptiness and help lift my depression, rather than me seeking relief in other people, other things, etc.

I spent a great deal of time in tears before God. Broken. Again. And how fitting considering that our retreat has that theme!

Yesterday really was a pretty good day, but the closer I got to the evening, and to small group where I would see my friend, I got more nervous.

It was silly really. I mean, we would see each other, but there would be others around, and it would be easier for us to step back from each other within that context.

As I got there, we talked around the table during our meal, and I was able to share how much I felt the retreat really was under attack, and that each of us involved or going were under attack too.

I found it hard to look at my friend when I was talking, at least when she was looking back - I don't know, I just was so unbalanced feeling. Not because of anything she did, not because of anything really that we had talked about.

The more I look back on it, it just really felt like my emotions and thoughts weren't clear. I feel now, looking back that it was all a haze last night. I hardly remember the beginning part of the evening... at least not the details.

I feel like I didn't handle anything well at all, and am afraid that I made my friend even more uncomfortable, and that I need to apologize to her. Anything that I did last night had nothing to do with her, or how she treated me, or that she had spoken with me. It had everything to do with me.

I hope and pray that it doesn't affect her coming to small group, coming to the retreat - anything.

I mean, I suppose that I should expect all this unsettledness, prior to the retreat. I got some good work done on the worship for the weekend yesterday morning. I feel more ready. I also get this coming Tuesday off so that I can spend more time in preparation.

As you can see - I still really need prayers.
I need balance in relationships.
I need clear guidance from God.
I need wisdom in speaking with my friend, to apologize to her.

I need that broken, contrite, and humble heart that God will not despise.

I need my thoughts and emotions to line up with God's truth, not the lies the enemy is throwing at me.

I also need to trust that my pouring out my heart here won't be misinterpreted... or hurtful to anyone else.

So, today is a mix of joy for my friend and her son, who gets to tell his story, and his testimony this Sunday in front of church, as a God at work... and a mix of sadness, depression, and brokenness.

So this post ends up being that mix as well. I am praying that even in the midst of the turmoil that I can find God's joy and God's peace.

And some heat in this house! (It is -6 outside right now, and our infloor heating can't keep up with the leaky windows we have here!!!!! Shiver... but I'm so grateful for the heat that we do have!!)

May you also find that joy and peace.


Clay Feet said...

I can so relate to your story. As I think about my own feelings that so easily identify with what you are going through it came to my attention that part of the struggle possibly involves the feeling of shame. Many of us never learned in life how to deal with that feeling and don't even really know how to define it or what to do when we feel it. As a result when we do feel it we can easily get stuck which is what I might describe what I would feel if I were in your place.
What happens when someone pulls back from a close relationship, even if it is very new, is that the bonding that took place is somewhat ripped apart which causes us to feel devalued. Feeling devalued is the essence of shame, but when it doesn't make sense to our minds then our hearts feel guilty for even feeling it and tries to go deeper into hiding. Then we start looking for other issues to blame while avoiding dealing with the real issue that bothers us most, the shame that we feel too ashamed to admit we are feeling. Ironic isn't it?

Tina said...

Thank you so much for sharing. Your vulnerability has been a blessing to me. I will lift you up in prayer (right alongside myself). I too struggle with the same things balance, guidance, wisdom.

God has created us all so differently yet when we seek Him, He causes us to work together so beautifully. What a blessing to see how he has blessed your friend and her son, and also how He is teaching and guiding the both of you in your relationship with one another in Him.

You have a tender heart Heather, it is probably what has drawn your friend to you. It sounds to me that Christ is front and center in your relationship, guiding and speaking to you both.

I thank you for pouring out your heart. There is great wisdom in what God is doing in your life and relationships that is only gleaned by the telling.

In Him,