Anonymous asked a question:
I read a text post from you about wanting friendship just for appreciation of the person, not opportunism. I used to be like that. But somehow through the hurt I’ve accumulated from people, real relationships feel too fragile. To cope, I found myself using people for clear defined reasons, than sentimentality. It has kept me safe, but I feel like I’ve lost a part of my humanity too. How can I love people for who they are despite the total possibility of being letdown?
Hey dear friend, thank you for your very honest message.
I went through a very similar phase where for years, I couldn’t trust anyone. I had been brutally hurt by a church and I never thought I would recover. I did. It took a ton of therapy and self-examination and safe people to get there.
Continue reading “How Do I Open Myself Up to Friends Again?”
It’s unfair to rush someone into forgiveness. It’s powerful and necessary, but forgiveness is not a one-time moment that magically seals up the wound. It takes a deliberate, daily battle over a lifetime. That occasional angry twitch doesn’t mean you’ve failed at finding peace; it’s only part of the process. Let it happen. It hurts because it meant something. It has to pass through your body, like flushing out poison. No one is allowed to rush your healing, including you. No one can just “get over it.” It’s your pain, your pacing, your tempo. But I do hope to see you on the other side, where there’s freedom. You can take all the time you need, and I’m with you.
I fell for the romanticized, destructive idea in both church culture and pop culture that we must constantly “love and forgive and give away,” a sort of martyr-hero syndrome that guilts us into perpetual generosity.
I spent too many years consumed by the “sacrificial radical love” model of Christianity, which required that I pour out more than I had—but it only scooped out my guts and left me bitter and resentful and exhausted.
To love must include truth, wisdom, and boundaries. Sometimes it means distance. It means knowing when to rest and recharge and to embrace our limits. It always means to have grace for yourself, too.
And to love is not enabling, pampering, coddling, or letting someone off the hook—or it wouldn’t really be love at all. There’s a way to help others that really hurts them because it only feeds into their harmful patterns.
For those who have been abused or traumatized: Forgiveness doesn’t mean friendship. No one should ever be rushed into forgiveness, not for the sake of “getting right with God.” Not for trying to look like the “bigger person” or “because it’s the right thing to do.” We need to recognize patterns of unrepentant abuse and gaslighting and manipulative language that will only guilt-trip back into a vicious cycle. We can never mindlessly open the door again on an abusive relationship. You have the right to say “no.”
God does redeem the evil, yes, but God is for the victims, for the abused, for the survivors, too. God is for the exile, the foreigner, the despised, the despondent who crossed the Red Sea. God is for you.
Pastors like to talk about investing in someone who has potential for ministry because they would one day be a valuable commodity for God. We spend hours figuring out how to mentor, apprentice, train, and arm — but all this sort of language makes me a little sick to my stomach.
To treat churchgoers as spare parts is no better than mechanical objectification, as if we are all actors in a play or a porno. People are not products and the church is not a business. They are first and foremost your friends. To view your people as a project destroys all intimacy and robs them of joy — and I see it happen all the time.
Continue reading “Investing Options”