For one entire year, when we found ourselves in our new church, I began each Sunday morning with a panic attack. Sitting on the bed with a towel wrapped around me from the shower, I tried to remember how to fill my lungs with air. Sometimes I’d walk across the room and turn on the box fan in the window, or flip the switch to the exhaust fan in the bathroom, all to drown out the sound of my heart pounding loud in my ears.
I’d been down this road before, and every time I’d had my heart stepped on by women who shared my faith in Jesus and who loved him big time and for real. Every time, it caught me off guard and sucked the air out, leaving me flat and empty. And sore.
I don’t know why we break each other the way we do. I don’t know why I allow a careless word to slip through my lips and hang there in the air, knowing the way it slinks between and settles in and crumbles into shards of glass. How can I not see how thin the line between the way things can be and the way I let things be?
We carry the glory of God in earthen pots with dirt caked on and death trying to get comfortable in the darkness where the roots are tender, and He trusts us to let Him shine through all the broken places. He knows how prone we are to wander – to crush and be crushed. And He has this uncanny way of bringing glory out of ashes, grace transforming dis-grace, healing banishing dis-ease.
Eventually, I found a way through those panic attacks. I opened up my heart to women over coffee or tea or a good book. I kicked off my shoes and tucked my feet under me at the end of the sofa and leaned in to hear the stories other women shared. And eventually, my heart got stepped on because that’s what happens. It’s true.
But also? This heart, all tender and broken and split wide open, has been filled with breath and life and hope – hoisted on the shoulders of women who love well with bruised hearts of their own.The good with the bad, and God right there in it, working it all for His good.
I have this tender, broken heart – split wide open, and filled with breath and life and hope.
Won’t you share with us in the comments today about a friend who has helped redeem your view of friendship? We’d love to hear your stories?Leave a Comment
Rebecca Barth says
I once got the gift of overhearing my friend gossip about me. I can call it a gift now, but it was horrible and painful at the time. The next few years were ugly. We never planned to be friends again. But God had other plans. We have just finished writing a devotional about this topic – together. The best thing was seeing the story from the other side! So, believe it or not, the woman who gossiped about me has also helped me redeem my view of friendship.
“…believe it or not…” Yeah. Don’t you find yourself saying that often when you hang out with Him? It is amazing, this gift of redemption.
Still struggling after a dear, trusted mentor of mine lost sight of what was really important and betrayed our deep friendship. I never foresaw it and I definitely had my part in all of it, but my soul so deeply craved redemption of the story, but I don’t think there will be. I’ve wrestled for a long time with what forgiveness looks like. Now my husband and I are starting at a new church and I am finding it incredibly difficult to open my heart and share my life with anyone (which never was a problem before). I feel more sensitive to the words of others and have a huge difficulty trusting… Hoping and praying that I will find courage and peace to traverse this new place and learn to find new people without fearing the deep hurt that it can bring…
While there is life, there is hope. But if God has shut the door, let Him reopen it and don’t keep tugging on it, on the how it should be or could be. Ask God to help you look at the bigger picture and to give you a wider lens to see. Most of all, rest in His care for you. He is intimately acquainted with all of your heart and just let Him love you. I hear ya cause I’m going through the same thing. The pain is exquisite touching the deepest places in my heart. Google Why We Need Pain (relevant magazine). This helped me and maybe it might encourage you.
Anonymous – Those hurts can definitely change our perspective. I absolutely know your struggle, and I’m kneeling right beside you, trusting God to bring hope to you in your new situation, and healing of your hurts.
Lisa H says
I was scared of friendships because friends always left, people always left my life and left a huge hole that kept adding to the already deep cavernous hole in my heart. I thought I was better off alone, without friends. I thought I was better off just being polite and never offering up any information about myself that would allow a friendship to blossom. When I hit the bottom of the barrel in January 2008, God knew what I needed. I needed a friend. I needed a girlfriend. I needed someone to help lead me back to Him. The one friend I refused to let inside the darkest place in my body. The place that hurt the worst. He brought me this friend in the form of our women’s minister at church who had offered to pray and talk with me whenever I wanted. She left it in my court, at my own pace, at my own comfort level about what we would talk about. That was 4 1/2 years ago. She has taught me what being a genuine friend is all about. She has taught me what it means to trust again. She has taught me that if I don’t allow others in I can’t really give love out. She has taught me that it is okay to love and be loved. I went from a single dot on a line to having circles of varying levels of friendships/relationships surrounding me. I went from feeling alone in this life to feeling completely loved by my very own church family. I value my friends and will never be able to thank God enough for putting this woman in my life. He used her as his light to guide me from the darkest hole and she did it with such care, concern, trust, and love.
Lisa, thanks so much for sharing this beautiful story. You’re right, you know? God created us to be in relationship with each other. He knows exactly what we need. I’m so glad you found your way back to friendship.
Marina Bromley says
Thanks for sharing!
My friend who has redeemed came in the form of a mom figure for me! My own mom died when I was a child, and God provided a feisty, courageous, outspoken, God-loving woman to be a friend and mentor. Although there are miles between us now, we still take time together when we can. She encourages me in my walk, my life, and my marriage. She allows me to learn, and be loveable, and forgiving towards others who have hurt me.
I’m so thankful for her friendship in my life!!
Such a beautiful story. What a great gift! Thanks so much for sharing this with us, Marina.
I’ve always been a casual friend girl. Keep them at a distance and you won’t get hurt. Until I moved here and met a small group of girls that would change my life. Even when I kept them at a distance, they stepped in. My life got turned upside down and they have walked with me through every step of the fire. Sometimes they say the wrong thing, but it doesn’t matter because they are ALWAYS there to help clean up the mess. I’ve learned that being invested in someone is worth it. Because when it all comes crashing down, there is someone to help you hold up the umbrella.
~Kim from http://www.notconsumed.com
“Sometimes they say the wrong thing…” Don’t we all? I love that you’re able to just let that go, Kim. We all say the wrong thing sometimes. The key is sticking around to clean up the mess. Love hopes the best.
I have always been the kind of girl that keeps friends at a distance. If you don’t let them in, you can’t get hurt. All of that changed when I moved here. I met a small group of girls that wouldn’t settle for that. When my life got turned upside down, they walked me through the fire. I’ve learned that when they say things that are hurtful, it’s alright because I can trust that they care for me. It’s worth the risk to let someone in. Because when it all comes crashing down, there is someone to help you hold the umbrella.
Beautiful! Love this post!
Nancy Franson says
You kick off your shoes and tuck your feet under so beautifully, my friend. Truly. I love the way you offer yourself.
Great post! Love the necklaces shown in this blog. Can you tell me if it is available for purchase? Thanks!
Lisa is the jewelry artist and occasional contributor to inCourage. Check out her website to see her beautiful collection! lisaleonardonline.com
Yep. Wendy is right. The necklaces are part of the stunning Lisa Leonard line of beautifulness!
Thank you so much!
Happy to help. Every girl should have a bit of Lisa Leonard in her life. 🙂
path of treasure says
You are a gift, Diedra. 🙂 I love your tender broken heart, filled with “breath and life and hope”.
I have a friend, who spoke a truth to me some years ago I needed to hear. Once she spoke it, I knew it was true: I had been stepping back from friendship as a guard to protect myself from past hurts. And, here she was– a person who wanted to be my friend, and I was backing off, and she was challenging me not to do so. From that point on, I began to realize how some of my own assumptions were affecting my reactions and responses to others. I began to gradually believe “the better”– to assume the positive, vs. the negative, about others. I’m still growing, learning, but changing that perspective has made a big difference.
My friend Stacey did that for me. She sat across the table from me one day in a sandwich shop and said, “I think I’ve met my match in you.” I’d been holding her at arms length, and didn’t even realize it until she called me on it. It was a turning point for me. So, I asked God to show me a different way because what I’d been doing wasn’t working at all. And I agree – it’s a journey. But isn’t it fun to have some girlfriends along for the ride?
Glenda Childers says
I met my friend Shelly through blogging, when I still lived in Seattle. When I moved to her town (Chicago), she became a consistent, fun real life friend.
I love Love LOVE stories about blogging friends who meet and grow their online friendship offline, too. It’s one of the things I’m most looking forward to as my friend Michelle and I plan to host (in)RL together here in our town. We met online first – through blogging, and then ran into each other one day at a local coffee shop. Turns out, we live about two miles from each other, and now I don’t know how I lived all those years without her. I can’t wait to see other women meet face-to-face for the first time at (in)RL. What a party!
The Bible plainly speaks of bridling the tongue and Jesus was very clear about causing one of His little ones to stumble and it is better to have a milestone around one’s neck, throw oneself into the deepest part of the ocean….then have to deal with Him. Yet…people still engage their tongues thoughtlessly and cause deep hurts and a lot of damage at times that may take years to recover from. I’ve read a number of posts from various women on how they have been devastated by others’ carelessness. It pains me to read it because I know how it feels to be on the receiving end of it. Yes, I struggle with trust and I don’t think I could ever trust anyone 100% other than Jesus. I don’t think it’s going to stop until Christ returns.
I think you are right, Christine. People have been hurting others with words since time began. Proverbs 12.18 tells us that “Reckless words pierce like a sword but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” For this reason, I taught my (now grown) children and the youth of our small church to T.H.I.N.K. before they speak! Ask these 5 questions before saying anything… Is it True? Is it Helpful? Is it Intelligent? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind? My own tongue can be sharp at times and I lean on the Lord to keep my words thoughtful.
Christine, you are right. I think we will always mess up as long as we’re on this side of heaven. And so I shake my head when I think of grace, and just how much and how often God forgives. He redeems even those places we thought could never be healed. It reminds me of that verse in Lamentations: “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.” So very great is God’s faithfulness to us.
Wendy, I love that T.H.I.N.K. lesson. We use it in our church as a constant guide. And – even though we have that guide and we don’t intend to, we still mess up with our words sometimes. Or, sometimes our words are misunderstood.
“and maybe the love gets in easier, here where it’s tore?” Such wise words from Ann Voskamp’s little Shalom. It’s a constant challenge to keep our hearts from being covered with scar tissue, a hard shell of protection.
“But also? This heart, all tender and broken and split wide open, has been filled with breath and life and hope – hoisted on the shoulders of women who love well with bruised hearts of their own.The good with the bad, and God right there in it, working it all for His good.”
My small group of women friends help me keep my heart tender and open to receive the good, the bad and the ugly , knowing that our Father is making beauty out of our messes…
Yes. I think that what I want is an unbroken, unbruised, untried heart. But I think God must know me better than I know me. 🙂
“…our Father is making beauty our of our messes…” Amen and amen and amen!
Lyli @ 3dLessons4Life says
I think isolation is such a tool of the enemy, so I am glad that you got on that couch and took the risk…
I have a dear friend that God brought into my life after a season of great loss. We were both “in recovery mode” so to speak…. It is refreshing to have a friend who doesn’t pretend to have it all together.
Pretending is such hard work, don’t you think? I did that for such a long time. I still do it every now and then, if I’m being honest – and I do want to be honest. But when I just let myself be myself and – as they say – let the chips fall where they may…wow! So much better.
I do believe you’re onto something when you talk about isolation, and I’m glad for the couch, and the beach house, and for each of these beautiful women right here today.
Beth Williams says
Growing up I was very shy and didn’t have many friends. When I moved to TN in 1995 I was still shy–but God has worked on that with me. Many years later he gave me a wonderful husband and a super church, Blue Springs Christian church in Elizabethton, TN–out in the country full of women who want to mentor or just listen to you. I have done many many Bible studies with these women and love them all.
Being part of such an awesome group of women allows me to love and give more generously! I can share things I’ve been through and they share with me also!
I love what you say about the way being part of a group of women opens you up to love and give more generously. It’s incredible the way women pour themselves into each other’s lives and it spills over with so much grace! And that last line of yours? It’s this, isn’t it…
“He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)
I met my best friend while I was in Cosmetology school back in 1999. We lost touch after a few years and I can’t even remember why. Through that time, I had become part of another group of girlfriends that was nothing but drama and hurt feelings. After I had had my heart broke for the last time, I counted on my husband and my family, which I still do but one day I found that best friend from school through Facebook. We have been going strong ever since. She is a refreshing part of my life and lead me to know Christ in a more intimate way. It is such a blessing that we found each other again. There is no lying, only truth and she is my sister in Christ!
Amen to that, That’s just how it should be, leading to know christ more intimately. Keep each other in your prayer and continue in christ.
Amen to that, That’s just how it should be, leading to know christ more intimately. Keep each other in your prayers and continue in christ.
I am so blessed. I have not one friend, but a group of 6 friends who have loved me for over 20 years. We didn’t get to this place easily though. At times we’ve broken each others hearts, hurt each other and then repaired the wounds. It’s taken determination and dedication to love each other no matter what. We’ve weathered together the most brutal of storms in each of our personal lives, and have done the seemingly impossible at
times–remained friends. It takes work and effort, and a whole lot of grace!
Oh, grace! There it is again. It is a beautiful thing. And yes, you are incredibly blessed.
Loved this, especially “We carry the glory of God in earthen pots with dirt caked on and death trying to get comfortable in the darkness where the roots are tender, and He trusts us to let Him shine through all the broken places.” So beautiful. I have a lovely friend who even after moving all the way to California has stayed my best friend and though I miss her dearly with the beuaty of the internet it often seems like she is still right here.
As I was easing my way back into friendship, God sent me a few special women who became so very special to me. We don’t live near each other anymore, but I still consider them some of the best friends I’ve ever had. And, of course, social media has made it so much easier to keep in touch with them.
Kristen Strong says
Oh Deidra, *you* are that kind of friend. You know that, dontcha? Last October in PA, I relished all our shoes-kicked-off-feet-tucked-under-legs on the sofa moments. You are a beautiful friend, and my heart feels safe in your hands.
I have another friend, Rebecca, who is a local friend of the same kind. I really don’t know what I’d do without her.
Much love and hugs to you, Deidra. You BLESS.
What great words – “…my heart feels safe in your hands…”
Wow, Kristen. I feel the exact and very same with you. Isn’t it a beautiful gift? And the truth is that I don’t know if I could have opened up without first having had my heart hurt along the way. You are a joy and gift, Kristen.
This is beautiful. Told tender and real. Thank you. My heart was touched by one friend this one day who reached out in love because I was on her heart. And oh, how it became to be such a love gesture, needed by this one heart this one morning. She restored me and whispered to my soul in a text message. Amazed always by what our Lord can and does use to bless.
Grateful here for this post. Thank you again.
I just love the way God shows up in texts, and FB posts, and tweets! Isn’t it cool? And your friend heard a whisper to reach out, and she did! How cool is that?
Oh this one line struck a deep chord with me. *Every time, it caught me off guard and sucked the air out, leaving me flat and empty. And sore.* Its hard to adjust and continue growing when that happens. I am a person who cherishes each friend I make.. So when it happens my heart is so broken and spills out big.
Plus I live my the old adage : Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!* So I think it hurts because I to beleive in being honest. So much so…It throws people off. It shouldn’t but it does.
So yes I have had those types of people in my life for only a season. But seems God always places someone special in my life after that.
Anyways thanks for sharing your heart…Grateful for you and your post today!!
Kerry. Girlfriend. You don’t know how I resonate with you today! It is SO hard to adjust and continue growing when that happens. But somehow God can reach us – even there. Blows my mind! And the way He can use our broken hearts to heal us and others is nothing short of miraculous!
It’s easy to focus on the friends that hurt us, because I think our memories are driven by high amounts of emotion. We all get hurt, its a shame, but it’s true. While are hearts are split wide open and filled with Christ and Hope, I think it is a good idea to focus on and remember those sweet friends that are good to us and have a positive influence in our lives, as well.
Great point! I also think – at least for me – my memory is often driven by high amounts of exhaustion. 🙂
After being in the same church for over 27 years, we had to make the excruciating decision to leave. At the same time, our marriage was flailing and it seemed like everything was hard. Finding a new church and making new friends was difficult. This was when I prayed for God to give me new girlfriends~~to which God clearly indicated that I needed to get my marriage in order before that request was honored. Looking back, I can see why God chose that path for me as I was prone to neglecting my husband in favor of friends, family…..really, everything! From the moment I chose to believe in God to restore my marriage, and allow Him to show me how, He provided the girlfriends. I now have an accountability partner and two close friends as well as a small group that I love, and they love me. These are blessings I’ve NEVER had before in my life. Waiting on Him was hard, but it was worth it!!
Isn’t it just like God to give us exactly what we need? He is so in love with us.
Sandy Groves says
Thanks, Dee! well said. Our nature wants to fold itself inward in protection after being hurt, after not meeting other’s high-standars. Our Father asks us to open, to love those that hurt us and to become vulnerable. How difficult a task this is, to trust Him in our fragmented rice paper heart. Against all finite wisdom He does meet us there and makes anew the lost hope, the bleeding love. The last two years have had me withdrawing more and more into my quiet places, may He heal each part of our souls.
Sandy. I love your heart. I love you. You are one of those dear, beautiful friends God sent my way after my heart had been broken. I am so grateful to Him for you. I’m praying with you…praying with you…
Sandra Heska King says
For many years I kept heartache and struggles to myself because of the messiness and because of pride. And when I dared to “come out,” I found judgment. But I’ve found real community now in a small circle of in-real-life women–but also in women (you, for one) here on line–some who have become in-real-life heart friends. And some of these friendships are the deepest. God has no boundaries.
To truly love real is risk–and only until we’re broken can we heal.
(you, for one) Yep. Me too, you.
Right in these few words you have preached an entire sermon, Sandy. We can’t heal until we’ve been broken. Girl, you bless me big time!
Shelly Miller says
As a pastors wife, you can only get so close and you learn quick it is one of the things you sacrifice – the kind of deep relationships with women you had before. I have felt the pain of loneliness and isolation, the longing for those kind of friendships and finely came to a place of peace in the vacancy. He fills the holes and brings the treasured jewels of women one at time. I have a few that I cherish, because they have been around a long time and I know I can trust them with my life. I feel that way about you Deidra. The newest jewel in the collection of beautiful people He has brought around. Thank you for loving me the way you do.
So, you know I *get* this, right? The whole pastor’s wife thing. And the peace in the emptiness. When I think of you and all of the other beautiful women – sisters – He’s given to me, sometimes I just cannot keep the tears away.
Thank you for loving me back, Shelly.
Sheila Seiler Lagrand says
My best, dearest friend, when I sat in her kitchen snivelling a few years ago about a horrible, very-bad mistake I’d made, and some other rotten things that had happened to me…well, she commiserated on the rotten stuff but never let me off the hook for the rotten thing I’d done.
With love. It was amazing. And just what I needed.
We all need friends like that, don’t we? Not friends who will always say “yes” just because it’s the easier road to travel. But ones who love us enough to put their arm around us and lean in close and say, “That right there, sister. That’s where you tripped. May I please hold your hand and help you up? And then, may I sit here next to you as you brush yourself off? Because I love you too much to leave you here all by yourself.”
Hoisted on the shoulders of women with bruised hearts of their own….God sure gives you just the right words, my friend! That’s what friendship is made from, brokenness, sadness, disappointments, discouragement – all turned into laughter, joy and excitement of being together and sharing genuinely with one another. That’s the way true friendships should be…REAL and AUTHENTIC! As always, beautiful, Deidra!
Connie@raise your eyes says
You write my life Deidra. Slowly…GOD led me further down the corridor of grace and now I’m the listener, opening my heart & hearing theirs.
When mine gets burned, GOD whispers to offer it to Him in sacriifice and continue to bless others. The miracle of His Grace to turn us into someone we never were before…
Patricia (Pollywog Creek) says
“I kicked off my shoes and tucked my feet under me at the end of the sofa and leaned in to hear the stories other women shared.” Can we do that some day, beautiful friend? I want to be the one leaning in to hear your story – to unwrap the gift that is you.
This “dis-ability” season I’m in right now has taught me much about what it means to be a friend. I sure do hope these lessons stick. I want to be the kind of friend that others have been for me.
One quick story. A couple of months ago, a friend arrived at my door with groceries to make lunch for the two of us. She had disappeared from my life a few years back and though I never asked her why, I was thrilled when she reappeared – going out of her way to love and care for me. As I hugged her goodbye that day, told her I loved and missed her, she confessed that she had been avoiding me. When her husband died suddenly a few years ago, I had been right there. In her eyes, I was a constant reminder of that day, so to be my friend was painful for her – not because of me – something I did or said (though I’m more than capable of doing and saying the wrong things), I’m so grateful that she had the insight and courage to confess that to me. That’s the kind of friend I want to be – the one that offers mending and healing and the knitting of our hearts back together by being the first one to say “I’m sorry – it was me, not you.”
My friends took me four hours from home and left me in mental health locked down unit. Talk about messy relationships and tough love! The next week God reached into my life and gave me the courage to allow Him to restore my life. Over ten years later, I live free, healed. They fought for me, and my family when we were at the end our rope. Those ladies are still my dearest friends. We have raised our kids together, started a church together, and laughed and cried a lot over the years. Our friendships aren’t perfect but they are held together by a love that is born of God. We have something special and we don’t take that for granted. I am blessed.
After many failed friendships that were caused by both those friends and my own failures, I stopped trusting friends pretty much completely. For so long I’ve buried my own feelings beneath the emotions I let friends offer up to me. I focused solely on their well-being and pushed my own life aside to make sure that my friends were doing well. By taking the focus off of me I was able to make this facade where I looked awesome and seemed to have everything together. Unbeknownst to me, one of these friends I’ve been investing into like this has been secretly loving me at my own arm’s length. She’s let me ask all the questions, let me lead the conversations, and never pushed me to talk about myself. Only recently was this made known to me when I finally had a break down, and break through, and was able to be vulnerable around her. Her persistence over these last few years and her genuine love and care has enabled me to be more honest with myself. I am beyond thankful for her. It is a weird feeling to be genuinely cared for and loved, and I am learning to accept it.
It’s still fresh, this vulnerability, but I am sort of excited (and scared) to see where it leads to. 🙂
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2013 (In)RL Webcast | Cobbled Stones says
[…] and confined us to the computer, we were able to gather around comfortably. I could so relate to Deidra Riggs words from a inrl printout: “This heart, all tender and broken and split wide open, has been filled with breath and life […]
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