HEARTACHE: DISAGREEMENTS WITH FRIENDS

depressed101It’s devastating to disagree sharply with friends, especially with sisters in Christ. I tell a story in The Friendships of Women about a terrible disagreement the women in my prayer group (of all things!) had, and how they left, one by one in tears. All that was left was my dearest friend Shell and I, and then I decided to tell her why I thought she was too strict with her children! (I was not slow to speak, quick to listen, or slow to become angry.) She left in tears and I almost threw away my manuscript of The Friendships of Women.

But God reigned,  bringing me to true repentance, honest tears, and confession. The Lord knit us back together. But I can still remember the enormous PAIN before the repentance and healing.

When you feel strongly about an issue, whether it is what we read, or watch, or wear, or celebrate — it can be hard when others do not feel the same way. Philip Yancey’s “What’s So Amazing About Grace,” has helped me enormously to give grace in peripheral issues.  How badly we need to give others grace and to receive it from them.

The next woman, whom we will call “Hannah” lives in the backwoods of Alaska with an emotionally distant husband. Her letter is long and I’m not sharing all of it, but there is enormous pain, and I’m praying we can help her — both with kindness, love, and any wisdom God gives us.

Hannah finds that her friends disapprove of the choices she makes, or she disapproves of their choices. Her opening story of her fight with her friend of 22 years does remind me of my fight with the women in my prayer group, though I don’t think any of us called the other insane, but we implied it, I’m sure!  Within her letter “Hannah” wrote:

Dear Dee,

I have lost several friends in the past two years. Not to death. I lost them because we do not live the Christian life the same way. One friend of 22 years thought it was ok to let her kids watch Sex in the City. I am totally confused why believers watch that. We also have a non Harry Potter home…My friend busted open on me…called me all kinds of names and said I was insane…For months I grieved over this. I am a freak because I drew a line.

Another friend thinks I am too mousey…I should buy clothes at Nordstroms and buy top of the line fabric.

At this point in my life I am the loneliest I have ever been. My husband is ultra conservative and I am not. He had me wearing head coverings and dresses…but I refuse to dress that way. I live remote…in the backwoods…I do not believe in divorcing…but I feel like jumping ship. He is not cruel. He just thinks he is right…only God will ever move him…and in the mean time…I wish I had a friend…I keep asking God to send me women I can trust and women I can trust my child with…the door has remained closed.

I wish I had a friend.

There is so much we could talk about in this letter. My heart goes out to Hannah who is isolated by some things out of her control. I see depression in her letter and hopelessness. Reading between the lines, I think she feels God has abandoned her as well.

But I do think we might be able to help her with the friendship question. Some of the good suggestions you gave to Ellen in the last post might help her. But then there is another sticky question. What do we do when we disagree with sisters in Christ?

There are times when we need to discern if our friends are believers or not, for we cannot hold unbelievers to the same standards as we do believers. From what I can discern, Hannah’s friends proclaim to be believers, and it is certainly true that there are people who love the Lord who read Harry Potter, shop at Nordstrom’s, and even watch Sex in the City. She says her husband is ultra convservative — and many would see Hannah as that way. She has some strong convictions that her sisters in Christ do not share. Unkind words and name calling have happened. She feels she has lost her friend of 22 years.

1. First, Hannah is hurting. What things can you empathize with in her pain?

2. Secondly, when we disagree with friends, often what will be remembered ten years later, Francis Schaffer said, is not even the issue, but the tone.  When we do disagree with a friend about something that we think is important enough to raise — or when she raises an issue with us, what are some ways we can speak that will show the love and sensitivity of Christ. How might have Hannah’s friends spoken more kindly? And how might Hannah speak to them?

3. Dawson Trotman said that whenever he received criticism, he would take it in his prayer closet and sift out what was true and what was not. Take, for example, the criticism that Hannah received about her wardrobe. How might she respond to that before the Lord?

4. When I had a falling out with my friends, my husband said, “Dee — I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is usually a problem in the vertical relationship with God.” When I let God search my heart, I could see things I had done wrong. When I confessed my sin to my friend, healing began. I have found that even if I think I’m just 20% of the problem (and God is probably shaking his head at my denial) if I sincerely confess that, ask forgiveness, and don’t point out her 80%, the healing snowball starts rolling. I’m particularly concerned about the loss of this friend Hannah had for 22 years. Any thoughts for her with this one?

4. Read Jesus prayer in John 17:20-24

A. This was His last prayer before the cross — why are last things important?

B. What specifically did Jesus pray for?

C. Do you think it is possible to be one with someone even if you disagree with her about a peripheral issue? If so, give an example. If not, explain why.

D.  Why did Jesus want believers to be one according to this passage?

5. Read Romans 14:5-8

A. What were the “peripheral” issues that were causing fights? Find two.

B. What “peripherals” issues are common disagreements between believers today? What about you — where do you tend to disagree with friends?

C. In verse 5b, what is vital in determining our own behavior?

D. What does Paul say in verse 6? Apply this to a contemporary issue. For example, let’s take “Santa Claus.” Some believers have nothing to do with Santa, others have him as part of their Christmas. How might each observe verse 6? How might each have a discussion in love with those who see it differently? How might each give the other grace?

6. Hannah may need to find some new friends. Each of us needs friends that help us grow stronger in the Lord and who are loving. If, indeed, she needs to find new friends, how would you advise her to do that? And how should she respond to these friends?

7. Do you have any words for Hannah that might help her?

8. Would you pray for Hannah and the silent “Hannah’s” who are reading this blog?

9 What is your take-a-way this week?

Thanks so much to everyone who will prayerfully help. I feel the pain here and would love the body of Christ to help.

Dee

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1. First, Hannah is hurting. What things can you empathize with in her pain?

I understand the feelings of isolation although for other reasons than what is going on with Hannah. But it has left me with little access to friends face-to-face, so I understand loneliness. Christ, please help Hannah in her loneliness as You do me.

2. Secondly, when we disagree with friends, often what will be remembered ten years later, Francis Schaffer said, is not even the issue, but the tone. When we do disagree with a friend about something that we think is important enough to raise — or when she raises an issue with us, what are some ways we can speak that will show the love and sensitivity of Christ. How might have Hannah’s friends spoken more kindly? And how might Hannah speak to them?

I believe that it’s always a good idea to respect the person as a dear sister in Christ and give her the room to have her own opinions and ways of doing things (provided these are peripheral issues) and accept our differences. God’s garden is full of many different kinds of flowers so naturally we will not all be alike and that is OK. Being kind and respectful also gives us opportunity to learn from who are not like us. Even if we do not change anything we do as a result, standing in someone else’s shoes can make us grow in Christ!

3. Dawson Trotman said that whenever he received criticism, he would take it in his prayer closet and sift out what was true and what was not. Take, for example, the criticism that Hannah received about her wardrobe. How might she respond to that before the Lord?

She could remember that God values our hearts and doesn’t concentrate or place judgement on the outside appearance.

1 Samuel 16:7 (New International Version)

7 But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

It helps to sort things out in prayer before God to see what is truly important in life. Those small things that seem so big get put back into size before God.

4. When I had a falling out with my friends, my husband said, “Dee — I have heard you say that when there is a problem in a horizontal relationship, there is usually a problem in the vertical relationship with God.” When I let God search my heart, I could see things I had done wrong. When I confessed my sin to my friend, healing began. I have found that even if I think I’m just 20% of the problem (and God is probably shaking his head at my denial) if I sincerely confess that, ask forgiveness, and don’t point out her 80%, the healing snowball starts rolling. I’m particularly concerned about the loss of this friend Hannah had for 22 years. Any thoughts for her with this one?

It is easy to see our own side in things, but few situations are one-sided. As well as alleviating loneliness, fellowship with God can draw us closer to Him where He will have the opportunity to point out what we need to do to improve our vertical relationship with Him. Then, as Dee said, healing in horizontal relationships can begin.

4. Read Jesus prayer in John 17:20-24

A. This was His last prayer before the cross — why are last things important?

Last things show where our true priorities reside. For Jesus it was important that all who believe are one, loving with love from God Himself. He wanted His Father to be glorified in all believers.

B. What specifically did Jesus pray for?

Unity among believers, Christlike love between them, glory to God through all of this love and unity. It will show Christ to the world that needs Him.

C. Do you think it is possible to be one with someone even if you disagree with her about a peripheral issue? If so, give an example. If not, explain why.

I do think it is possible because what makes us one is belief in Christ, not peripheral issues. For example, I like to listen to all kinds of music, including Christian. Some people think one should only listen to Christian music. I am at peace with my choice because I always make sure the lyrics of secular songs I listen to are OK and not against God. If someone brought this up to me (although no one ever has) I would explain that Christ gives me peace as long as I honor Him in my music choices but I also have great respect for their position because they are following Christ in their own lives too.

D. Why did Jesus want believers to be one according to this passage?

He says in verse 23: “Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.” This is the reason.

5. Read Romans 14:5-8

A. What were the “peripheral” issues that were causing fights? Find two.

1. Considering certain days sacred and 2. abstaining from eating meat.

B. What “peripherals” issues are common disagreements between believers today? What about you — where do you tend to disagree with friends?

I am blessed with friends who really don’t disagree about peripherals. But I do know people fight about the sorts of things in Hannah’s letter… movie and tv choices, books, clothes, how to spend money on things, as well as other things like worship styles in church.

C. In verse 5b, what is vital in determining our own behavior?

“Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind.”

This can only be done with a good vertical relationship with God and much prayer.

D. What does Paul say in verse 6? Apply this to a contemporary issue. For example, let’s take “Santa Claus.” Some believers have nothing to do with Santa, others have him as part of their Christmas. How might each observe verse 6? How might each have a discussion in love with those who see it differently? How might each give the other grace?

They would understand each side’s motivation, which is to please God, and focus on that. As long as Christ is being glorified, our differences don’t matter. We need to leave “self” off the throne and put Christ on it in all things.

6. Hannah may need to find some new friends. Each of us needs friends that help us grow stronger in the Lord and who are loving. If, indeed, she needs to find new friends, how would you advise her to do that? And how should she respond to these friends?

This is a hard one… if I were in Hannah’s position I would prayerfully back away from those who are being hurtful (I have done this recently with a certain friend) and respond gracefully even if they are not because this will please God, and HE is our focus.

I don’t know exactly where to find new friends.. maybe a church activity in which you’ve not previously been involved, also pray for God to open doors because maybe He has something in mind we can’t even imagine yet!

7. Do you have any words for Hannah that might help her?

I will pray for you, Hannah! Trust God becuase He will never let you down, even though some people will.

8. Would you pray for Hannah and the silent “Hannah’s” who are reading this blog?

Absolutely.

9 What is your take-a-way this week?

Respect others’ differences from me, realize not everyone is like me, enjoy God’s variety and not let little things come between friends.

    Tracy — your replies nearly brought me to tears, they were so tender and wise.

Reply

1. First, Hannah is hurting. What things can you empathize with in her pain?

I empathize with the following (the “keep asking” and especially the “trust” part).
“…I keep asking God to send me women I can trust…” It’s scary to trust after being hurt by people we thought were friends, and sometimes that fear may have prevented me from even being aware of potential friends. My heart sped up just reading Hannah’s letter; even though the circumstances of our situation differ, the dynamics that occur when one is hurt and then has difficulty trusting may be pretty common (??).

2. From question #2 “When we do disagree with a friend about something that we think is important enough to raise — or when she raises an issue with us, what are some ways we can speak that will show the love and sensitivity of Christ?”

Within the last couple of years, someone (whom I respect and think is wise) suggested that I not share an area of disagreement with a friend. He based this advice on an experience he had in which a friend suspected that they might disagree on an issue, and their discussion confirmed it. The knowledge that the disagreement existed was sufficient to irreparably harm their friendship. Based on his experience, I didn’t share my beliefs with my friend.

My assumption had been that friends share their thoughts, beliefs and feelings, especially when we think those issues are important. But I think this assumption may have been wrong. As women, some of us like to “share stuff!” For me, some of that sharing is habit and not necessarily related to building up other people or the friendship. Maybe an answer to this part of the question, how to show the love and sensitivity of Christ, is not to speak at all (in some situations). “This is what I believe. . .” sometimes works if we don’t imply that “I am right/you are wrong.” Name-calling usually doesn’t help a situation. Jesus called “religious people” a brood of vipers, but I can’t think of any times when he used name-calling with this friends (although he definitely was honest with them).

3. This question demonstrates that a criticism often is more painful when it is from someone who knows us well (especially if we trust them). I don’t think Hannah’s friend was acting like a friend when she told her she looked “mousey” — (I’ve been told that if I wear “whatever,” I would be happier — that was annoying enough).

Whenever, I hear the phrase “prayer closet,” my very visual brain thinks of a literal closet. And if I were hurt by a wardrobe/appearance criticism, I’d probably feel like locking myself in the closet :) I like the idea of humbly approaching the Lord to keep things in perspective. “Dawson Trotman said that whenever he received criticism, he would take it in his prayer closet and sift out what was true and what was not.” Unfortunately, when I’ve received (hurtful) criticism, the criticism was hurtful either because I had trusted that the person cared about me or because there was a grain of truth in the criticism (and likely I already was aware of that truth); e.g., “that jacket makes you look fat.” Well, I probably agree, but sometimes I’d go to church looking fat in clean clothes or not go at all. By taking the hurt to the Lord, not only could I sift out the true from the false, but also what is most important in his eyes from what isn’t as important. Also, when my relationship with the Lord is stronger, I’m less vulnerable to (what I think are) unfair criticisms from others. Last week, Livingloved wrote something about seeking Him first/having our identity in Him. The “prayer closet” not only helps me sort out the truth; it connects me to the ONE who is TRUE. Lord, draw us to you.

    Renee – I love your honesty and vulnerability.

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I can empathize with “Hannah’s” desire for ‘sameness’ amongst her friends. I think we all desire friends who will share our convictions and understand where we are coming from. But the truth is many of our friends won’t share our same convictions. It should not lessen our convictions or our resolve especially if we feel we have received the conviction from the Lord and his word , but neither should we set ourselves up as judges of our friends on “peripheral” matters. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict not ours. Our job is to love and perhaps by loving they may come to us and ask what we think. A life well lived speaks much more that many words. To me someone who just comes around and judges me is a real turn off. (And Hannah please, I am not speaking of you here – just a general thought!) Jesus ate with publicans and sinners and I am sure if he would have just condemned them – they certainly wouldn’t want him to eat and be with them. He didn’t come to judge the world but that the world should be saved through him. The “sick” are the ones who need a doctor. We are suppose to be reconcilers but so often “the religious” people of our day are anything but reconcilers! We should speak the truth but in love. Do we really know what that means? Do we know what it means to love them as we love ourselves? Which one of us would be mean to our own selves, critical and demanding? God help us!

    This was priceless from Terri, in my opinion! :-)
    “But the truth is many of our friends won’t share our same convictions. It should not lessen our convictions or our resolve especially if we feel we have received the conviction from the Lord and his word , but neither should we set ourselves up as judges of our friends on “peripheral” matters. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict not ours. Our job is to love and perhaps by loving they may come to us and ask what we think. A life well lived speaks much more that many words.”

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4… I’m particularly concerned about the loss of this friend Hannah had for 22 years. Any thoughts for her with this one?

I’d like to pray about this more, but my initial thought is that both Hannah and her friend probably felt similarly — hurt & judged. Hannah mentioned that she grieved for months. If this meant that neither attempted to contact the other or to work through the problem, the problem likely seemed even worse over time. The first/best thing for me to do is pray for the person who has hurt me, because that often softens my attitude toward her/him and helps me take her perspective.

4. Read Jesus prayer in John 17:20-24

A. This was His last prayer before the cross — why are last things important?

“Last things” are last; i.e., we won’t have the same opportunity later. When the time has come for last things, there’s only enough time for what’s important.

B. What specifically did Jesus pray for?
Jesus was praying not only for believers, but for those who would observe them and know Him because of His followers. If people know we are followers of Jesus, they might attribute our lack of unity to Him. In contrast, our love for each other and unity despite differences will draw others to Him.

C. Do you think it is possible to be one with someone even if you disagree with her about a peripheral issue? If so, give an example. If not, explain why.

Yes, but this isn’t as simple as it seems! My example is use of alcohol; both those who think Christians should abstain from alcohol altogether and those who drink alcohol in moderation can be one in Christ. But my use of this as an example indicates I believe this is a peripheral issue.

The challenge is in defining “peripheral issues.” I believe that some “prohibitions” are clear in Scripture; others believe they are “peripheral issues.” (The examples I’m thinking of are related to sexuality, marriage, etc. ). However, despite some major disagreements (even when I believe a certain behavior is sinful), I can be one with someone if we both can agree to seek the Lord in prayer, spend time in His word, and seek to obey Him. Then it is His “job” to unite us as we both seek to become more like Him. If a friend and I both are willing to be open to the Lord and seek His guidance, even in an area I am convinced is NOT peripheral, I suspect my heart will be changed, whether or not I maintain my original convictions. Not sure why someone else would give up their opinion to admit that I’m right if I wouldn’t do the same for them :) I’m kinda stubborn and hadn’t thought about this before!

D. Why did Jesus want believers to be one according to this passage?
so that others would believe in Him, see His message through the lives of believers

I woke up this morning wondering if anyone would dare to step into this post, for it is filled with landmines. But oh, the wisdom God has given you, the clarity, the courage.

I’m working with my friend from prison ministries, Linda Strom this week, and she read the post and raised her eyebrows, wondering what would happen. I said, “I have some wonderful women participating in this blog — that is why I am daring to do this.”

You didn’t let me down.

I’m so eager to hear more from you and the other wonderful women on this blog. I hope “Hannah” will come on as well, as dear “Ellen” did last week.

Reply

(I might let you down, Dee, sorry. I didn’t want to write for fear that I might, but ….)

1. First, Hannah is hurting. What things can you empathize with in her pain?

“Hannah” with my heart towards you, and with the Holy Spirit’s heart, who is acquainted with your pain, He holds your heart, your husband’s and friends hearts as well…I pray for hope to comfort and strengthen your inner being and to guide you ….

I, too, was made to wear dresses growing up. My father, a Pentecostal preacher, even made me wear them to the park, it was embarrassing and very uncomfortable for me, a young girl who loved to climb trees and do what the boys did. Eventually, he relented. Now, I love wearing skirts …. But, there seems to be a controlling issue with what is going on with your husband’s demands. That is hard when you are trying to love him with respect. As you hold God in awe and highest of respect, may you hear God’s calming and directional wisdom.

2. Secondly, when we disagree with friends, ….

Thoughts:(This won’t be popular): I feel the God whom loves us, in His sensitivity towards His Father, took a whip and drove out those he loved so His Father’s house can be a house of prayer. This same God told Peter, his disciple, “Get behind me Satan ….” when he saw Peter concerned more about man’s ways than God’s.

Scripture says in Proverbs 27:5, 6 NKJV: “Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed / Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.”

I would much rather people speak to me truth which might sting than hold back. If it is not truth to me, I can sort it out with God. But to have someone walk on eggs around me is not what I think God would want either. Where the spirit of the Lord is there is liberty / freedom. Freedom to fail, which is why I feel God could eat with sinners, etc. as a sister pointed out. The sinners I bet sensed both the freedom, but the loving conviction to make a choice of their life values.

I do not own a TV, which keeps me more at peace and able to fellowship with God and others more. I wouldn’t watch Sex in The City. I feel, God created sex and should be illustrated as sacred. So, where is the balance with sensitivity?

I am still learning. Poised against the sugar coating Christianity, we seemed to lose the whole of God’s heart of what is right or wrong and everything seems to be relative, even in Christian circles, and then we wonder why we see so little of God’s loving and healing power manifested. He comes to heal the broken hearted, and set the captives free, etc., but do we demand He does it our way or His?

There’s a time to give grace to the hearer and a time to rebuke, God does look at the heart, as a sister mentioned. My heart is for truth(I grew up in such deception) and to desperately allow God to mend my broken heart and others, not necessarily to gain a popularity.

I need a sense of what is right or wrong, a clearer path. God’s Spirit and His word is a lamp to my feet, and in His word he says his word is for us to correct, teach, comfort, etc., but when? … there is a time for everything Ecclesiastes says. But, I know the God of all comfort knows each of us intimately and wants our hearts wholly towards Him, first and foremost, and only in Him will we find the sensitivity needed towards Him, ourselves and others. Hurting with you ….

    Livingloved
    So glad you are sharing. Very good thoughts.

    We definitely tend to cower away from open rebuke — and it is needed. I think best done between those who love and trust each other, and we can’t just rebuke anyone. I also think there is a way to rebuke that is in love — which seems was missing from Hannah’s friends and perhaps her response. So easy to do when we are upset.

    I don’t think we have to be quiet on peripheral issues — I think when done in love, it can be really fine — and sometimes we do have to disagree.

    My daughter-in-law, who one of the godliest women I know, has the philosophy that we can do scary decorations, etc. at Halloweeen because Jesus reins, conquers — and we can laugh at the devil.I’m still not comfortable with it — but we both know we are doing what we do to glorify God and are really at peace with each other.

    I appreciate your contributions!

      Reply

      Thanks, Dee. We just have to agree to disagree. Its just that “in love”, what does that mean? Everything God does is in love, he is love, yet He did so many things which we see as hateful, but can’t be.

      Thanks, again for your encouragements. Love does conquer all, including hanging goblins :-)

1. First, Hannah is hurting. What things can you empathize with in her pain?

* Lonliness or separation from others, friends, a husband emotionally etc.. is hard, very very hard. First off..I agree with Dee.. I am praying that the Lord would hold my tongue here and give me wisdom. What a privilege, but what a responsibility before God..And believe me, her heart is precious to Him..He is holding it and He is grieving with her and wants so much for her to walk through this process of healing, so in reality she isn’t alone. May we be a soothing balm to her heart and may we plant seeds that God can grow! I am already seeing some AWESOME seeds offered to her.. WOW!! Praise God!

* I am going to come back to this today as my time has run out this morning! I do love reading the responses so far and firmly believe they are from God. Great job sisters!!!

2. * I second Tracy’s advice here.. I loved even the simple, truthful yet tender way she gave it..It came from the Lord. I really think Hannah should really embrace this wisdom..I think if Hannah asks God to help her think in the direction Tracy stated, He will help her with the rest as far as whether or not she should say anything and how to offer grace to that sister.

3. * I think Hannah should extend herself grace in regard to her reaction to the criticism in regard to how she dresses, of course it will hurt when it isn’t said in love and with everything else she has going on with her husband, her other friend and the whole dress thing, I am sure any of us would have been hurt had we had all those extra burdens to carry.

I am reminded of Priscilla Shirer’s response to her friend who offered criticism toward her.. She was open..teachable and even though it hurt, her way of sifting through the good and bad was to prayerfully ask others if she did what her friend told her she did. That is how God spoke to her and helped her sift through it. That might be a consideration for Hannah in how she deals with this, not sure. We have to be wise in not accepting criticism that is from Satan that condemns us, yet it is crucial to be wise in hearing what God might be trying to tell us through another believer..God will help us sift through this, we just need to be teachable..I think that is one of the reasons God hates pride, it can stunt our growth.

Could it be that Hanna’s friend saw the beauty in her and saw how she could compliment her beauty in the way she dresses? I don’t know, but I think that her friend most likely loves her and had good intentions even though it was said in an unthoughtful way. Maybe if Hannah looks at it this way she can extend her grace?

I think Hannah is a courageous person to be honest.. To even take the first step of writing to Dee and having it put out here was a huge first step.. I think Hannah is also humble as well knowing she can’t function in this way anymore and needs godly advice. I see God working in Hannah. We all have convictions in different areas and as Tracy said we need to show one another grace. As we grow we must extend grace as we experience God’s grace every day! I think of that passage where Paul talks about the weaker brother and extending them grace..OH, Dee I just scrolled through to see if you put up Romans 14 as a passage and you did! :0) so I won’t mention it.. But that passage came to mind as soon as I read Hannah’s letter.

4. I’m particularly concerned about the loss of this friend Hannah had for 22 years. Any thoughts for her with this one?

* I don’t think Hannah could move on healthily to a new friendship until she deals with these issues before God, so I think this is CRUCIAL..Hannah should go to God first, as Dee said, and have Him search her heart.. Give it time and really listen to Him..He will show her grace and show her some of the things she has done wrong in this interaction she had with her friend.

I think Dee’s model is a great place to start. Also, Hannah must keep in mind that her friend’s response isn’t in Hannah’s hands but in God’s, so Hannah doesn’t have to be afraid. It sounds to me like Hannah has a strong faith..She deeply loves Jesus, and so desires to please him..If Hannah keeps her focus on God and in doing the right thing in apologizing to her friend for her end of it then she will be content in letting the pieces fall where they may. If her friend knows Jesus it will most likely open the door to the process of healing..If her friend doesn’t know Jesus then it will be a TREMENDOUS witness to her friend.

3. Oh.. and backtracking a bit.. I also wanted to share that ever since I became a stay at home mom, I have been lazy about enhancing the womanly features God has given me..Probably because I feel stretched out from having kids, and I am getting older..If I get time for a shower it is a huge blessing! ;0) So I don’t feel beautiful on the outside all the time, but I think it goes beyond that.

I think in Proverbs 31 God beautifully balances inward beauty and outward beauty. I understand we won’t find that perfect balance here on Earth, but I think it is important we adorn ourselves and bring out the beautiful womanly features God has given us. “she clothed herself in fine linen”.. God talks about beauty in women a lot in scripture..Oh my! He is the artist who designed us this way!! I think He delights in it or He wouldn’t have made us the way he made us. I think when we take care of ourselves on the outside that also glorifies him. He made women with beauty even if one isn’t as beautiful as another. Even us tom boys can still be tom boys and look beautiful from the inside out. :0) Adam looked upon Eve and she wowed him! I think God wanted it that way. There is nothing wrong with enhancing our beauty with better clothes or better fitting clothes, makeup etc… I think it can enhance the beauty from the inside! :)

After re-reading this.. I must say I am speaking to myself here!! I needed to think/hear this today! God is good, Amen?!?

    Reply

    This is very good advice Rebecca. As inward beauty is important so is caring for our exterior. But the comment about Nordstrom’s is stuck in my brain. I went there once with a friend. I was looking for a pair of shoes. I went running from that place. You could easily spend $300 on a pair of shoes there.

    I agree that Hannah should take this to the Lord. He can show her how to see her beauty herself and how to accentuate it without Nordstrom’s.

      Anne, LOL! No doubt.. Glad you mentioned that, Nordstroms is higher priced! You cracked me up about running from the shoe store. I did the same thing!! ;0) I had no clue how expensive it was until I looked at their shoes. They are really awesome shoes and clothes but very pricey. :)

Livingloved made some great points here..I have struggled on and off for many years in regard to some of the things she mentioned.

I might add that one thing God is teaching me and is STILL reminding me of is to ask questions like Jesus did. Sometimes rather than telling, but there is a place as both Livingloved and Dee mentioned where we need to confront issues and we need to be wise in how we do it. I could be wrong here, but a thought occurred as to how many times Jesus used a rough tone when he communicated. I am thinking it was only a few times as opposed to the many, many times he asked questions or told parables to communicate or to correct others in a straight forward but loving way. If I am right, that tells me that if I need to use a harsh tone it better be something pretty serious.. Perhaps something that is evil or damaging to the gospel. So for the most part and in most situations Jesus would want me to use a gentle, loving tone when addressing issues whether peripheral or not. Again, I could be wrong.. just thinking out loud. :)

    Reply

    Dear Rebecca and dear sisters,
    having no discipline growing up, I crave a “harsh” voice of, from, and in love from those who were supposed to: my parents, who ended up abusing me, yet even through their harsh sexual and physical behavior of abuse, I still craved for them to discipline me, even if it meant a “harsh” no, I so wanted that.

    Instead, I didn’t hear no, literally, but felt “no” differently: by neglect and their sexual abuse towards me: I internalized “no” I was only good for one thing. “No” I wasn’t valuable enough to be told true no, from their love fo me. I wish, with all my heart, I heard “no” out of their true love for me, but they were not capable of that at the time, but I didn’t know that then, but I just felt neglected from them out of their own broken-ness, I became broken.

    When God says no, it may feel hurtful to me, and I resent it at the moment, but God’s no, through him or anyone elses, eventually, has always yielded sweet fruit of righteousness, beauty, adventure, care, healing, fun, enjoyment, hope, to mention some fruit of it. Even, my parents neglect “no” God has used toward my craving for truth and true love and living in purity.

    So, I guess its how we view God, and the cravings of our heart. I feel, its also how much we really want to be real and walk whole heartedly in truth. God is the way, the truth and the life. When He speaks, life happens, life is created, beauty unfolds, healing occurs, dare we wait and ride his wings which contain all that for us and for others…?

    We want the immediate gentle touch … at times its good and healing and needful, but Christ talks about embracing HIS sufferings as well as His glory or joys. I don’t see that we are much willing to do both, but instead we seem to crave the immediate tendernesses which can be deceitful, as it was in my life.

    We were made to endure both for the glory and joy set before us; as evidenced by God’s own example on the cross of what man can endure, nevertheless, the countless abuses we have experienced here on earth(martyrs, men, women and children still experiencing persecutions and abuse of many kinds) prove our capacity of such injustices we have endured; some in gentle silence, like Christ….

    Again, we were created, whole heartedly, to endure both joys and sufferings, from open rebuke to gentle silence like Christ, who experienced both. Again, we seem to embrace the most easier of the two, gentle silence, thinking that is the most godly, is it because we see it happening more in God’s word or is it that’s all we want to see in God’s word?

    Daniel, Esther, Ruth, Deborah, the prophets were not silent, not even Jesus, at times. I have to be careful to not espouse only that which God speaks to my heart and that which God speaks to my heart towards others, when to keep it and pray and when to speak it out. It really didn’t seem God was worried much how he said it, though from Ephesians it does seem he care, but to what extent. I feel Him being the rock of offense as in I Peter; Christ was not worried to the point he didn’t speak what was put on His heart to speak.

    Meaning, I need to learn, as other sisters have said, to respect what God is doing in others and bless that as well. In the end, God will be our final Judge, and He will judge in His ultimate loving kindness, strength and justice. How sweet that will be for some, and for the rest, it will be eternal damnation, again, through God’s loving kindness, eternal hell will be some peoples end ….Think about that …. That is the balance I think our loving Father wants us to walk in.

    Hannah, I pray for God’s will to be done in your heart so that you can keep His gift of faith in your heart through this all.

    Love,
    Livingloved

      Livingloved,
      Wow.. I feel for you sis.. What a hard thing to endure as a child!! Hey, I totally agree. I give harsh no’s to my boys all the time when I see them hurting others or being defiant toward me. Well, I don’t just yell ‘no’! But I think as you meant they need boundaries and need us to remain consistent and firm in how we handle them sometimes. I think while we have made many mistakes letting our emotions get out of control with anger, God has helped show my husband and I when we are having a holy anger and when it is sinful toward our children.. Long story, but there is a huge difference and God has been patient with us and has turned it around in our boys’ lives as we have apologized..Getting off topic here.

      Anyway, I think I know what you mean as far as what you needed as a child and you are right.. Children need it. They crave it because it tells them you love them. SO TRUE.

        HUGS!

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1. I empathize with Hannah in the area of isolation. I’m not cut off from people. I am surrounded by them everyday. It’s not having someone who understands exactly what I have gone through that haves me feeling isolated. I also understand loneliness. Coming home to an empty house with no one to talk to in the flesh is something I have learned to live with.

2. I think if Hannah’s friends had prayed before they spoke to Hannah about her personal choices maybe they would have seen that they needed to repect what she chose to do. The friend who thought she needed a makeover could have bought her a pretty blouse instead of belittling her personal style.

Proverbs 15:1 tells us that a gentle word turns away wrath. I would suggest that Hannah speak with calmness in her voice when she speaks to her friends. I would also suggest praying until the Lord opens the door for the issues to be discussed. When I have a topic I want to discuss with someone I first tell the Lord what I want to say and then I ask for opportunity to speak if I need to say the words. I have been amazed when the topic is brought up by the very person I wanted to talk with.

In the scriptures provided, the common theme seemed to be about unity and what that means.

Sometimes we just have to decide that we are not going to let the lack of character that we see in one person change the way we respond to them. We can choose to respond with love, even when it becomes necessary to set some boundaries so that the people that hurt us don’t have access they can use to wound us anymore.

To acknowledge my own beauty and strength or personal convictions doesn’t mean that you have to be less beautiful or strong if your convictions drive your heart in another direction. It only means that my beauty and perspective can enhance yours and your perspective can grow and enhance mine. God didn’t make us all exactly the same because the contrasts and differences of our personalities develop a new type of beauty that just doesn’t exist alone.

One example of this might be a very efficient secretary and her brilliant inventor as a boss. Most very smart people don’t have very good common sense. Most secretaries have really strong common sense. A secretary can make sure their boss has no trouble making it to an important meeting with everything they need to share the inventions they work on. Without inventions the secretary would have no need for meetings. Together neither one of these people would be nearly as powerful as they are when they are part of a working team. However, I imagine the lack of skills might be frustrating to both parties at times. I think the only way these two could produce anything well, would be to recognize and focus more of their attention on the strengths that the other person has and does well.

Hannah- I pray that the Lord lead you to the friends and relationships that remind you of the parts of your personality that make you beautiful and unique. May your heart locate an unshakable resolve about how deeply loved and adored you are by God. May His faithful love towards you, tenderly care for all of the painful places caused by people that didn’t understand or somehow forgot that your unique beauty is a treasure.

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Hello, There is a lot here to chew on. Pornography is always wrong.I believe it is perfectly fine to put up boundaries to protect my son.Matthew 18:6 is very bold in how Christ feels about those who mislead children. I spent years being patient and speaking in love…I am trying to read all the comments and will answer the questions. I am not able to be on very long..Thank you for your prayer.

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Hannah — Welcome. I’m so glad you have come onto the blog.

There is a wise saying that says, “Hurt people hurt people.” I see the pain in your heart, and I see you thrashing out, like a wounded animal, even to those who are trying to help.

Yes, pornography is always wrong, and you are right to protect your son. I don’t think anyone here would disagree with that.

I know one thing that is being said repeatedly is to approach people in love, and with gentleness. You have asked what that really means. A good question. I’d love to hear answers from the people here.

I do think there is a time for holy anger, like Jesus had, at defaming God, at injustice — but that was always with black and white issues.

I suspect, Hannah, that you would not approve of my book and movie choices on this website. There are women who love the Lord deeply who do not. I wrote a letter about that on that page — here is the link: http://deebrestin.wpengine.com/about/dees-recommendations/movies/ But I wonder if we could agree that we are each trying to glorify God. (I haven’t seen Sex in the City but believe people that it is trash.) But there are books and movies that have profanity and violence in them but still have a strong redemptive message. But Hannah, if you chose not to see those kind of movies because of the conviction of the Holy Spirit, I would applaud and honor you. How we need believers who listen to what the Spirit tells them and live by that.

I know you have made yourself so vulnerable coming on this blog — and I know some of the things you will hear may be hard. The fact that you are already hurting makes it harder. So I am praying for your heart, for your healing, and for each of us to walk in love toward you, whether we agree with you or not.

    Hannah, Again I appreciate your letter, vulnerability and honesty even through your comment! I have been in your shoes but with different convictions. Mine were worse though..:)

    Whenever I struggle as you are struggling, I am encouraged to think of how Jesus responded to Peter..What could be worse than denying Him? Also, look at the Pharisees and how they responded to sinful behavior as opposed to how Jesus responded. I am so thankful for God’s grace and mercy in my life for the many things I have done as a believer.

    Sometimes I think we all have our convictions which are awesome, but we have to go back to God and see His grace in our lives.. Do we have it down as far as following to a ‘t’ our own convictions? Let’s say we don’t watch Sex in the City, that is easy to shut off our t.v.’s and to not allow our children to read certain books, but I guarantee you there is something in our closet that we do or watch that is just as bad. Perhaps it is an attitude? There are hidden sins we have no clue about that God will bring to the surface.

    I used to be SO CRITICAL of believers who didn’t memorize scripture.. Who didn’t desire to follow up on new believers, who would sit and talk surfacy stuff for hours and hours and never get down to encouraging one another in the Lord. It drove me crazy, but it became an idol and the brass tacks of it were that that idol was me. I showed them grace with my tongue.. I didn’t correct them, but inside I was frustrated..SO PRIDEFUL…I can laugh now though.. I really crack myself up a lot to be honest. Especially when I compare myself to God. ;0)

    What about idols? We all struggle with having them. Can not watching certain shows and reading books become an idol and how do we know when it is?

    I must say a huge red flag is waving when we elevate our convictions to the point where relationships are torn apart and we struggle to show others grace-then that conviction becomes an idol. Convictions are great but we have to be careful not to let them define us over the One who should define us.

      Reply

      Great stuff! Thanks! That hurts for the good.

      Chewing on what you said, thanks for saying it. May all here bring healing and I think that is the point. If we all try towards God’s loving perfection, we will be perfectly holy as He is holy, I believe, enough said for now, thanks again!

      Love,
      Livingloved

    Reply

    I love movies, I too think they can be redemptive. The Bible has a lot of illicit sex. Song of songs has beautiful sexual imagery. Both in the Bible are there for redemptive purposes. But for my sake, I get to pick and choose a movie, whereas the TV I feel I don’t have much control except to watch or not watch.

    just for the record :-)

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I have to say that Hannah’s letter has set my red flags flying. She is caught up in the viciousness of legalism. My heart goes out to her and I would say to her seek the Lord now. His love and grace is sufficient for you. She needs some distance from these friends so she can heal. We love you Hannah and are praying for you.

I have not done the questions. I started but was not happy with where I went with it. I really want to be careful of the landmines. This girl is also smarting from the sting.

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I found this on my email this morning.

Don’t Judge?
Greg Laurie

Do you know what the nonbeliever’s favorite verse is? It is Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” This verse is usually quoted after we say something like, “Well you know what? I don’t think that is right.”

This verse, however, is not telling us that we should not make judgments, because in other passages we read that as believers, we are indeed to make evaluations, to be discerning, and yes – to even make judgments. In fact, the Bible asks, “Don’t you realize that someday we believers will judge the world? And since you are going to judge the world, can’t you decide even these little things among yourselves?” (1 Corinthians 6:2). We are also told in Scripture that “judgment must begin with God’s household” (1 Peter 4:17).

We are to judge, but we are not to condemn. In fact, a better translation of Matthew 7:1 would be: “Do not condemn others, and you will not be condemned.” I am in no position to condemn a person. But I am in a position to make judgments about things, situations, viewpoints, and even about people to some degree.

    Reply

    I have to say that while I agree with the point made here, I don’t think he spoke very lovingly when he said “You know what? I don’t think that is right.”

    Reply

    Wow, nice balance, thanks!Anne!

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1. All I can think of to say, initially, is wow. Wow. Hannah’s letter was incredibly difficult to read, emotionally.
I hear so much hurt… “My friend busted open on me….called me names, said I am insane…. I am a freak….thinks I am too mousey….I am lonely…..”. This just makes me terribly sad.

The issue of what her husband wants her to wear… on the opposite end of that, I know a woman whose husband also told her what to wear, but it had to be designer clothes and down to her socks, what he wanted her to put on. I know God designed the husband to be the leader of the home, but I also see a current here of control of another person that is not healthy. I believe a wife should have the freedom to express who she is through her clothing as long as she’s not being immodest (causing other men besides her husband to ogle her) or spending more than her husband can afford for her clothes.

Hannah is trying to swim upstream in the areas of media and what she allows for her child; yes, even Christians are all over the page in regards to what they allow, from no TV in the home to no strict boundaries. I can relate to the Harry Potter; my oldest son wanted to start reading the series, and I would not buy him the books but he got them at his school’s library (parochial school at that time). Interesting that when he got to the 2nd or 3rd book (not sure because I haven’t read them), and someone was murdered, of his own accord, he stopped reading and said he didn’t want to continue anymore. And he didn’t. In a way, I think he learned the better lesson himself, rather than by me not letting him read it.

I’m not sure why these friends were so harsh with their words; it is because they were such longtime friends that they felt “safe” to say what was on their mind, but definitely not in a loving way? Or what? I’m not sure. I want my friends to be honest with me, but not to be cutting. It’s like they “cut” her, attacked her as a person. That must have been very painful, as she said grieved over this for months.

Hannah sounds like she feels she is all alone with no one in her corner. “I wish I had a friend”. Hannah, it may be so hard for you to sense His presence, but you DO have a friend who sticks closer than a brother, Jesus. He is always your Friend. “I will never leave you nor forsake you”. Will pray for you today to sense His presence.

    Reply

    Susan, I know I can be very controlling with my convictions, forgive me. I used to stand for everything, but now I am trying to stand for Christ. But I know I can be controlling and cutting, but I also know gentleness can be used towards controlling also. Look at Satan in the Garden of Eden, he seduced through his beauty and slithering coyness.

    Thanks Susan for your honest words,
    Livingloved

      Reply

      Good thoughts, Livingloved, and I think whether our words must be honestly blunt or gentle, we need to look at the motive of our heart behind our words.
      Certainly Satan’s words were oozing with honey, but his motive was destruction!

      You always have a way of sharing your heart that is so open and vulnerable!

        Susan!!!!! Thank you!!!!!! means a lot to me. I just apologized to a pastor female friend of mine who I think I “cut” pretty bad as a result of sharing here.(I feel she did me too, no excuse, but still healing). So, this has been redemptive. I pray for all redemption would happen.

        Thanks again! HUGS!!

        I asked her for forgiveness as a result of sharing here, is what I meant.

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Love you all, I am grateful for this thread, this particular letter has lead me into so much further healing that could have only come through what I have attempted to share and being here trying to “help” and hear from you all, thank you. I am not perfect, obviously yet, but He is. I am headed towards perfection along with all you. (That’s probably another theological debate … for another time)

Trying to maintain unity in God’s heart,

Love,

Livingloved

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2. I’m sensing that perhaps things got heated because children were involved…. Hannah’s friends allow their children to watch Sex and the City and read Harry Potter. Hannah may have a valid concern when her son goes to their house and is exposed to this stuff.
It would be good for the two friends to have a face to face conversation about these specific things, and each to state why or why not they think it is permissable or not. The bottom line for me would be, in the end, if my friend still thinks it’s okay, if I send my child to her home, will she respect my views while he is there and keep that off the television or put away the books?
It may be that they will agree to disagree, but out of respect for each other, do not expose Hannah’s child to the things that she feels are not right for him. On the other hand, Hannah will also have to let her friend parent her children as she sees fit, even if she strongly disagrees. But the way we raise our children can create alot of tension between mothers if there is disagreement.
Still, we are told to speak kindly to one another, and name-calling and accusations are not in line with speaking the truth in love. Firmness, yes. I was wondering if Hannah and her friends could remember the common ground they used to share – the reason they became friends in the first place?

    Reply

    Good thoughts, Susan. I think you are right that emotions escalate when children are involved.

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Wow, so much going on here! So much wisdom! We are leaving for Omaha wed.am for my back surgery thursday am. I’d appreciate your prayers as I am getting kinda worried. My husband will take care of our special needs child (not a child really…23, but mentally challenged) She is worried about mommy, as she normally sleeps with me because of seizures. I will get out Sunday if no complications. Please pray everything goes well as Kendra needs me home to care for her. This is the longest her daddy has ever had to do everything for her. My step daughter lives within 50 miles of the hospital/hospitally house (where they will stay) and she will bath Kendra and wash her hair once for us. My sister-in-law, Mary Kay is improveing slowly but may be some permanent mental challenges there. Thank you for your prayers. Love to all, Joyce

    Reply

    Joyce, I’ll be praying for you and your family. Thanks for the update on Mary Kay. Will continue to pray for all of you. I’m glad your family will have the opportunity to serve you, as you have done so much for them.

      Reply

      Joyce, praying.

      God is with you and your family.

        Joyce, will pray for you this morning and as God brings you to mind..God will take care of Kendra too. I will pray for that situation as well.

4. Read Jesus prayer in John 17:20-24

A. This was His last prayer before the cross — why are last things important?

* Because His mission wouldn’t have been complete without this ‘last thing’ or last prayer.

B. What specifically did Jesus pray for?

* Prayed for future believers
* That ALL of them would be one so that the world would believe God sent Jesus.
* He passed on His glory to believers that they may be one.
* That if they are one in Jesus the world would see God loves believers as He loved Jesus. They would see the love of Christ in us and believe.

C. Do you think it is possible to be one with someone even if you disagree with her about a peripheral issue? If so, give an example. If not, explain why.

* Yes.. I have many..umm… right off the bat-speaking in tongues..I used to have disagreements with others on this but it NEVER separated us. I had a friend who went to my bible church with me and she thinks it is for today and disagreed with our pastor’s teaching on it, for she has spoken in tongues..but she stayed in our church anyway..Didn’t bother her and it didn’t bother me that she believed that way.

* I also MUST add that if we are truly teachable there are going to be areas we have disagreements with others on where God opens our eyes and shows us where we might be wrong, and we might need change our position. Just a thought..

D. Why did Jesus want believers to be one according to this passage?

* So that the world will know that God sent Jesus.

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I like Rebecca’s comment about God opening our eyes and showing us where we may be wrong…

On this blog we are growing to the degree we have seeking and teachable hearts…

Love each of you and how you dig into the Bible study part

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I regret to tell you “Hannah” has dropped out. She wrote me a private letter and felt anger with me. I’m searching my heart and believe I’ve learned some things on how to handle letters from hurt people better — perhaps they don’t belong on a blog. Pray for my discernment.

But I do want to tell you that I think each of you were wonderful, caring, and wise.

And I believe others who are in Hannah’s situation may have gleaned some wisdom. Pray for Hannah and others who are hurting and lonely who read this blog.

Next week we’ll share our praises and thanksgivings — hopefully something daily. I know already I’m thankful for you!

For this week, please keep on with the Bible study questions.

    Reply

    Dear Dee, sorry … I don’t really know what to say, but I do feel for you and Hannah … this was a huge crossroads for me: this recent blog. I am going to see a counselor today because of what this blog brought up ….

    You didn’t have to tell us this, about how all this ended. I so appreciate your vulnerability…and your willingness to be teachable, thanks Dee.

    …big hugs,

    Love,
    Livingloved

    Reply

    Dee, I will pray for your discernment, although I believe that eventually this will contribute to “Hannah’s” healing, too. One effective way (experience speaking here!) to “recover” from being hurt by Christian friends is to experience love from other believers — and it’s really hard, especially at first, to be open to that love. Being (even a little bit) open is a huge risk. Because Hannah took that risk, she opened herself up to love — and to criticism (and it’s human to focus on what seems most critical; i.e., if I get evaluations indicating that 99 students loved me, and one thought I was incompetent, I’ll be devastated that one person didn’t like me!). I believe God is faithful and will honor her honesty and her desire to follow Him.

    Earlier today, when I saw your posting, I thought about how authors sometimes combine situations to come up with case studies or scenarios, and that can be effective. It is less risky. But trusting others involves risk. As I’ve thought about this more, I like the way you’ve taken letters and changed the name. However, sometimes I am fearful of being identified, so if I send you a question, please tell people that I’m from Tahiti :) (or maybe some state with a lot of space and not as many people). Opening up oneself to feedback from others is hard — combining the letter with a Bible Study not only guides responses, but also takes some of the attention off the person who wrote the letter.

    As we’ve already discussed on this blog, women like to be heard rather than fixed. Your first question about empathy was good in order to start our “hearing.” We probably jumped in with advice too soon because without knowing the whole situation, we only respond to a few sentences. Sometimes when I get advice (even when I asked for it!), my first thought is “duh, you think I haven’t already tried that??”

    That was an awfully long way to say that I’ll pray for your discernment. Dee, I think you’re doing something right with the letters :) and will pray that you will know if or how you might modify the approach.

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Ladies, I was not lashing out at any of you. Yes, emotions about my child were high. I had done all the things a person does. I had the private conversations. I had the patience and then my friend went on Facebook and told everyone I was crazy and persecuted me because of how I live. I had no choice but to let them put me down. How she raises her kids is her choice…I never judged her on that. But to draw a line with my child convicted her. She knows my life and the road I traveled. She knew of my sensitivity to porn and why. I do not worship this conviction. She took my life and used it as whip against me. It hurt. I once spoke with a pastor about the hurt. He asked me….who put the emotions in you…who put the nerves in your face? When we get slapped it hurts…we feel it and then we move on and we get to pick how we move on. So I move on. I do not have one neighbor…so I do not have folks to replace the voids. Not much practice to get over the loss….but I am willing….I do not live the mainstream American life. I am off the beaten trail.

    Oh Hannah, wow.. I hope you didn’t take any of what we said as a slam to you. :) None of us know all the details as to what transpired between you and your friend. Please take our trying to help you in love.

    Wow, with Facebook? That was cruel of her to do that to you. I pray God will break through to both you and your friends hearts and bring healing some how.

    I think if you look at our advice as giving advice ‘in general’ for not just you but everyone to use you might get a different picture. I will have to admit I have worshiped convictions and other things I have placed before God as idols and didn’t realize it until later. I didn’t assume you worshiped your convictions. Yikes! How would I know. :) Only God knows our motives and our hearts.. For now I will pray for you sis!

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    Hannah, I am so sorry for the betrayal you have suffered from your friend. I just don’t have words for this, but I would like to tell you that you are always welcome here with us. It is not like a face to face friend but it is still good.

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Thanks for responding Hannah, wow I can’t believe “Facebook” thing. I wish I was off somewhere with all the “hell” I am going through with pastors and Christian friends.

God help us!

Love,
Livingloved

Dee, wow.. I will certainly pray for you and also pray that God would break through to Hannah some how. This saddens me.

I have extra time at my lunch time. So, onward we go.. :)

5. Read Romans 14:5-8

A. What were the “peripheral” issues that were causing fights? Find two.
* eating or not eating meat.
* Whether or not to consider one day more sacred than the other.

B. What “peripherals” issues are common disagreements between believers today? What about you — where do you tend to disagree with friends?

* Politics, homeschool vs. private or public..Those are two biggies. :)

* Honestly, a lot of disagreements God has changed my heart on and the ones I have stood firm on I still stand on, but I don’t bring it up with my sisters who disagree.. Usually most peripherals are not worth making a big deal over. I used to be in the ‘no Hary Potter’ camp until I heard more about it from my sister in law whom I trusted spiritually. She waited until her boys were older.. So I decided to wait. So far so good. No problems have stemmed from my oldest reading the series.

C. In verse 5b, what is vital in determining our own behavior?

*Each of us should be convinced in our own mind that it is a true conviction from God.

D. What does Paul say in verse 6? Apply this to a contemporary issue. For example, let’s take “Santa Claus.” Some believers have nothing to do with Santa, others have him as part of their Christmas. How might each observe verse 6? How might each have a discussion in love with those who see it differently? How might each give the other grace?

* Whatever your conviction like Dee’s and her daughter in law’s different convictions on Halloween..They both desire to bring God glory with their convictions in this area and respect each other’s convictions even though they are opposite. I think the discussion in love should center around listening to one another’s convictions first and why they hold those convictions..Then agree that God is working it out differently in each of their lives and it is o.k. to see it differently..You can end with, I am glad that you are standing firm on your convictions. Showing them grace is not holding it against them or looking down on them because of it. I think you have to be really careful not to judge in your heart or be critical in your thoughts when you see that person following through on their conviction. God sees the heart even though your friend doesn’t.

* I have to add that I think since these are ‘peripheral issues’ we have to be careful in discerning if it is a conviction from God, or if it is legalism coming from us, or if it is a conviction based on fear. I have bound myself before with convictions I thought were from God but were from fear and legalism.

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    4a. I think last things are important because they set the time in memory. Many things may not or may be remembered about a person but the last things are always remembered. If handled properly they can bless for life, if not they can torment for life.

    b. Jesus prayed for unity which is important for many reasons but the one Jesus states is so that the world may believe that He is from God.

    c. I do think it is possible to be one and not agree about everything. It can be tricky but possible. The most important thing is to respect the others convictions. An example might be Hannah’s conviction about Harry Potter. She has to talk with her children about why she does not want them to read the books. Her friend needs to talk to her children about Hannah’s conviction in a respectful manner. If she complains to her children about how ‘unreasonable’ Hannah is being, they will not respect her wishes either.

    d. Jesus wanted believers to be one so that the world would believe that He is from God. Unity is so against human nature that it would cause the world to notice.

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5a. Peripheral issues were the observance of days and things eaten or not eaten.

b. In a Baptist church alcohol consumption is a huge issue that I think is peripheral. This is one of my things that I started to share earlier this week and changed my mind. So here it is…In my home I serve wine with special meals. I sense no conviction from the Lord that this is sinful. I do sense a call to moderation. A woman in my church was behind me in line at the grocery store when I bought wine for a special occasion. I see her every Sunday since and she never even acknowledges me. It’s like I just don’t exist to her. That is painful even though we were not friends before this incident. I am praying that the Lord will give me understanding about how I should respond to this, if at all, and if I should change my tradition. This is what caught my attention in the statement by Greg Laurie. I felt not only judged but condemned and that does not feel good.

c. It is vital that we find the answers in our own hearts before the Lord.

d. In verse 6 Paul says it is vital that we are thankful to the Lord in whatever we determine to do. This is how I would apply this to an issue in my life. I love to read and my sister and I used to pass books back and forth. Many of them were laced with what I call drop dead love stories. God showed me how these themes colored my thinking when I looked at my own life. While they were not explicitly sexual they caused me to desire the kind of lover on earth that the Lord should be. It is hard to explain but I understood that I needed to leave that kind of book alone. I have done this willingly and joyfully but I can’t impose that conviction on other women or condemn them for reading love stories. I can share my testimony about it which I have done successfully.

9. My take away is that because we are each unique and because God knows us so completely, He calls us each differently. I may not have a weakness toward alcoholism but others may and He may call them to abstain. I do have a weakness toward idolatry in the form of romantic love so He has called me in this way. I can’t condemn another for reading love stories and I don’t want to be condemned for having wine with my diner. I may see nothing wrong with Harry Potter stories but God may call me to protect my child because of his nature and unique vulnerability. I think the bottom line is that we must seek the Lord in all things and at all times.

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    Anne — I love this post. We do need to respect the convictions of our sisters, but we have such freedom in Christ as well. We can be so judgmental.
    C. S. Lewis drank wine and smoked a pipe, but I’m quite sure he was a believer. :-) We can choke on camels and swallow gnats. And yet I know we must be discerning, and not be conformed to the world around us. When I said I was sure there were Christians who watched Sex in the City, I was not condoning that — and I doubt that they had taken that before the Lord, let Him search their hearts, and obeyed — but I also know each of us must give freedom to others and be fully persuaded in our own minds. And Hannah is right to want to protect her children. I’m rambling — but I sort of love the picture of you with wine in your grocery basket.

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      I was mortified…then I gave myself a talking to. My people pleaser face was red :o}

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Hannah, My heart goes out to you. I do know that healing sometimes takes years; right now I’m not ready to share some of my experiences online. I know healing has taken place for me, and the relationship was (somewhat) restored. But because we moved, the relationship also was less relevant. Many years later, I still occasionally have a panic attack when I’ve trusted a Christian I don’t know well. Sorry to be so vague, but know that I am praying for you.

Thought you all might be interested in this. Last night, I was looking at something else on the Nav Press website. Since I was avoiding work, I ran into more good stuff :) Prayers for healing broken relationships: http://www.navpress.com/product/9781600062551/Prayers-for-Healing-Broken-Relationships-Arlyn-Lawrence
If you click on “read a sample chapter,” you can read the bookmark (based on Scripture).

Leaving in a few hours and will be gone for about a week. I may not have internet access, but I’m looking forward to checking back.

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    You always give us such good links, Renee. I appreciate that about you — and much more.

9 What is your take-a-way this week?

* Dee, I think it was God-driven for you to post these. It seemed Hannah was run down, hurt, tired and desperate knocking on your door. You opened it, embraced her and let her in..Your home is warm and full of light. I don’t mean to sound corny but that is how I picture this whole thing happening.

You brought us alongside of you to help embrace her and in the process mentored us with your follow up questions. I think too often we get too comfortable and don’t take steps of faith. You took a step of faith here. I admire you for that.

On the outside it may look like Hannah didn’t receive it very well, but that doesn’t mean God can’t use it.

I think she heard some great advice from all of us. I can pick apart my advice and wish I would have refrained from saying a few things, but I have learned and God can cover that. :) I know God planted some seeds.

I think having a struggle with godly counsel can be a good thing because most times that is where the healing begins.

My take away is a lot of things, but this is one of them..To see you take the step of faith that you did, Dee.. That is one thing I have noticed about the Brestin’s that you have passed on. God is good! :)

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    Rebecca — you are a balm to my heart. Thanks so much.

    I just wanted to say that I really agree with Rebecca here. Everyone of us at some point have come to situations with friends or friends that ask advice about disagreements or our personal convictions that are just difficult to navigate.

    Sometimes it is easy to offer our own opinions, but we might forget to consider how we share our convictions makes everyone else involved feel later.

    At times I’ve found myself walking away from discussions like this, because it can be uncomfortable and often leaves someone feeling judged in the end.

    I have some strange convictions that very few of my christian friends fully understand. One of those is that I refuse to force my children to attend Sunday School or church if they don’t want to go but at the same time I won’t let them wear clothing with any form of skulls on them. When people honestly ask me why I’ve decided to approach things in that way then they are given a chance to see my perspective. They don’t usually join me and that is really good because I don’t want to play ‘God’ to dictate rules for anyone, but there is always a new formed respect when they pause to understand. The same thing happens when I pause to consider someone else’s convictions that I don’t quite ‘get’ with genuine respect.

    Because everything was shared in a blog, I think that there is still a sense of anonymity. We each might run into Hannah and we wouldn’t know it was her, but she also would have no idea it was us. There is protection for a wounded heart in that way. There are some major downsides to virtual contact, but in this kind of situation I think it is actually a strength and protection.

    In a nutshell, I’m simply saying that this was actually a very important topic to be discussed…. landmines and all. Maybe a couple of those landmines were detonated, but I think many more future landmines will be disarmed because of this particular discussion.

    Thank you Ladies, for allowing me the opportunity to learn from all of the things shared about this topic.

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For everyone who wants a smile and hope today — here’s a great video of a little girl telling the story of Jonah my daughter Anne passed on to me.

http://vimeo.com/16404771

    Loved it! What a cute little girl who portrayed the message well..gave me goosbumps. I can see why children are so special to God..

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As women I think we fear confrontation with one another … well ok I do! and this is sadly a cause of disagreements between women friends. Am praying to become more true to God’s ways and not to compromise or let something go when I can sense His spirit nudging me …
I fear rejection/conflict if too honest and yet the best and most life-enriching relationships come when we are transparant with someone else.

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I love the picture of Dee opening her home to a lost and hurting person. I have sent her three emails describing myself. Why I would find it hard to accept help…Last night I went to bed nauseated….mostly because I did make my situation known. I am a very quiet person and so is my husband….the words….still waters run deep describe both of us….I would be the woman on the back pew…my hubby would never be in leadership. But he would fix the church roof…I would never be in the choir…if we can hear each other singing we know we are to loud! We would love it if every missionary who came to the church would stay in our home!! I have a few internet “friends” who are following this blog…but will never speak up. Being vulnerable is very hard. We send emails back and forth. The internet has opened some doors for me. But it is not like having a Jesus with skin on. I know my life has purpose. I look at my son and think one day we will see backward how God moved in our lives. Dee made the comment that she needed to think on how to best post things from hurting people. I would like to add if maybe she had asked me more about myself before hand she might have gleaned things that would not make me a good candidate…but yet I am the perfect one…I am the gentle woman who sits next to you in church…who does not wear the finest clothing. I am the woman who would never go up front for prayer..but would love it if you sincerely sat by me in a meek and gentle way and prayed with me…The churches are full of us….I have felt the need to write my story…but I wish I could say the turmoil has left me…instead I feel embarrassed…Dee said I was like a hurt animal..we get a lot of bears here…last summer a mama griss and her three cubs came…I shot over their heads to make them go away…that mama rose up on her hind legs and let me know what she thought….and then made sure her babies were safe and off she went..Another time last summer a black bear kept coming around and would not leave…I had to kill it….I cried like a baby….I was fearful and angry….angry that I had to protect myself and my son…alone….My husband read the blog….he saw my body language…so he read and we talked….

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Lord, I am thinking about our sister Joyce this evening. Thank You that You are with her right now. I pray for her healing and protection. Bring her comfort, rest and Your sweet presence this evening and through the night tonight. Give her strength and endurance and wisdom as she begins to move tomorrow. May all of those participating in her care be wise and compassionate. Please give Kendra peace as she waits for her Mama to get well.

    Anne, praying with you..Amen..

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      So glad you are covering dear Joyce in prayer.
      Me too — she is one of the gentlest most thankful women I know in the midst of a hard life.

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    I too have been praying…

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I’m flying to film more curriculum in the prisons of Texas. On plane now. A hundred things could go wrong, but counting on my dear sisters to pray.

Love to you

    Dee, You’re covered sis!

Ladies,

This has been on my heart..If you haven’t considered learning about Child sex trafficking and slavery, please do. I have heard some women here who understand the sting of sexual abuse in childhood. It breaks my heart. Child trafficking and sexual slavery and oppressive abuse toward children, women and even boys is rampant all over the world, even the U.S. I can’t imagine.

I know Dee is involved in this cause as well as the proceeds from her conference in Kansas City are going to help IJM The International Justice Mission..If you want more information on it, the link is:

http://www.ijm.org/

I found this ministry. It is called Exodus Cry- a prayer movement to end slavery. It is well done and here is an eye opening video educating you on what is going on and how rampant it is:

http://exoduscry.com/awareness/media/the-mission-briefing/

I think both being involved with prayer, your money, doing walks, attending Dee’s conferences, etc. is all part of helping as well. I think God wants action on all fronts. God hates oppression..I am sure this kind of oppression grieves His heart.

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    Amen, Rebecca. A paradigm changing book is Half the Sky. More girls and women have died from this in the last 50 years than all the men in all the wars in the last two centuries. But we don’t know about it because they are female. Couple who wrote it are not Christians, but it is Christians who are getting involved. Couple who wrote it won the Pulitzer Prize for it. Half the Sky. It rocked my world.

      Dee, I will have to get that book. Yes, I didn’t see it online or in the news much.I had no idea this was so bad both in the U.S. and around the world until my friend Sondra became involved and then you. Praise God for moving his people to come to their rescue.

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THANKS TOO FOR PRAYING FOR PRISON MINISTRIES — WE ARE IN THE MIDST OF DOING IT ALL WEEKEND AND I’M SO THANKFUL FOR YOU. THE WOMEN ARE SOOOO RESPONSIVE, THE ENEMY IS PROWLING, BUT CHRIST IS REIGNING.

    Just prayed again this morning for the seeds in their hearts to grow..

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Hannah — I’m Facebook challenged and was afraid to reply to you on that in case it wasn’t private — so I wrote to you via my comments. Thanks so for your note.
Dee

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