I’m sitting at gate 4 of Santa Barbara airport right now as I write this post & create a puddle of tears – enough for the entire room to swim in. (Thank you to the kind stranger who offered me at first one Kleenex, then two, then the entire package)
The people around me probably think I had to say goodbye to someone I love deeply – which is definitely true – but there is so much more than that to the tears running down my face.
Broken relationship. Division. Betrayal. Conflict. Anger. Bitterness. Hurt.
A relationship once flourishing & life giving, now betrayed and destroyed. When someone who was once more than family is now a stranger.. Is there anything quite so painful?
“Everyone has been betrayed by someone, some more profoundly than others. Betrayal is a violation that strikes at the core of our being; to make ourselves vulnerable and entrust our well being to another, only to be harmed by those of whom our hopes were set, is amongst the worst pain of human experience” – John Eldridge, The Sacred Romance
The Bible tells us that the enemy is roaming around the earth looking for someone to devour. It says that he comes to steal, kill, and to destroy. And what is his number one target? Relationships. Always relationships.
I hate him.
A lot of you may have seen on Facebook that I just spent a wonderful week in California. & it really was wonderful. Carpenteria captures a very beautiful piece of Gods heart that I haven’t quite met anywhere else. I spent a beautiful week, in a beautiful place, with two of the most beautiful people I know.
However, what Facebook doesn’t share is that my trip was not ALL rainbows and butterflies.
Of course my wonderful week in California with my brother & sister in-law had to be disturbed with such conflict.
And I’m going to be honest to you, my friends.. it was no small tiff. This conflict was pretty ugly in every way. I saw the enemies hands all over it. Yet, my pride still managed to have a say in how I responded to the pain I encountered.
I could tell you every detail of this story, but I guess that’s not really the point. Conflict in relationship is inevitable. We are human – therefore as long as we are going to deep places with those we love, we will always face conflict.
My sister-in-law, Kaitlin, drove me to the airport this morning & our pain and emotions were still very raw from the night before. It was tempting to sweep it under the rug, fake smile, and say good bye. But we value our relationship more than that. So we did our best to talk through it all on our short 30 minute drive.
We talked and got nowhere. Addressing the conflict seemed to only cut my heart deeper. We disagreed on everything & couldn’t take our eyes of of our own pain long enough to see and understand that the other person was hurting deeply to.
And that’s when we pulled up to the airport and she spoke a sentence that cut deeper than any of the other painful things we said to each other combined. She said bitterly & assuredly, “I can just tell our relationship will never be the same”.
I responded (just as bitterly) by grabbing my suit case quickly saying bye.. walking away with no hug or “I love you”.
But as I walked away, I knew I was walking away from much more than her car. I was walking away from a friendship that was of more value, depth, & beauty and than I could possibly ever deserve.
That stopped me in my tracks. As if time stood still, I realized I could take my suit case, pride, and pain & keep walking quickly away. We could probably manage to be mature and kind at family gatherings and leave it at that.
But nothing in my being was okay with that.
I, myself, am not capable of loving well. Forgiveness and selflessness is very hard stuff. Those are not things I have ever, or will ever, be able to walk in well. So I called on the Lord in that moment and asked for His grace that He always seems to lavish so generously.
Somehow, He helped me throw down my pride and pain as He walked me into the greatness of His selflessness & love.
I turned around, waved her car down, and ran back to her quickly. (If this sounds dramatic, thats because it was, lol)
I jumped into the passenger seat of her car & immediately begin praying over her life, & ultimately our relationship.
What I did not expect, was for her to join in and pray for us too. As we invited God into our conflict with us, He began to do one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced. In fact, I think I would call it a miracle.
How many knows that when God shows up, everything changes?
As He softened our hearts for each other, Kaitlin prayed one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard. She prayed for my life: my friendships, my roommates, my church, my ministry, and that God would bring me the desire of my heart to have a husband. And she finished the prayer with something as equally healing as the sentence spoken just moments before was painful. She said, “God, I think I was right that our relationship will never be the same.. I thank you that you are doing a new thing, & that you are making it better”.
And in that moment I met my Redeemer, Healer, Comforter, and Restorer of every broken thing in a deeper way than I ever have before.
I was also reminded that conflict can strengthen a relationship, if given to the Lord & handled in a healthy way.
And you know what..
I don’t think it’s ever too late to turn around and run back to the car.
Thank you, Lord, that you specialize in taking broken things & making them beautiful.