On Salt and Unfriending

I’m feeling kind of bummed out today. 

I had a falling out with someone I knew from my teenage years. 

I failed to be sensitive when there was a need for sensitivity. There was a heated exchange. I offended them,  the other party was clearly in a place where they needed me to be an adversary, so they said hurtful things. I said things that were hurtful. But here’s the thing, I didn’t say anything untrue. 

Now, the fact that I spoke the truth doesn’t let me off the hook here. Because, I can be a scathing truth teller. Just ask my husband:)

That’s the thing about being salt. Have you ever gotten salt in a cut that, until that point, you didn’t even realize you had? It burns like all hell! Damn you, salt!

Yeah. It’s like that. My whole life is like that. It’s the shadow side of my spiritual gifts. Salt is well and good when it’s enhancing the flavor of whatever we’re eating, and when it preserves perishable foods. It’s even great for wounds–when it’s heavily diluted in water. But it can sting like mad when it finds itself, at full strength, being ground into a wound. 

The nature of the interaction between myself and my friend, was not loving. Not even close! They pulled the “you are crazy and need professional help” bit on me. I get this a lot. It’s the go-to barb for people that refuse to accept that what I’m saying might be even the littlest bit true. It’s a statement used to discredit the source when one experiences the truth as subversive to their worldview. It’s a defensive move. It even happened to Jesus– he was accused of being possessed by demons. “You are possessed by demons!” was the ancient equivalent of “you are crazy!”. 

Ok, enough psychoanalysis….

I used to pretend (my ego used to pretend) that, the hurt’s on them. Too bad, so sad. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” Jesus tells me otherwise.  We aren’t given spiritual gifts to hurt people with. Or to be used to puff ourselves up at the cost of knocking others down. It took me many years to understand this. That what is good, in so many ways, can also burn. The truth is good. Wisdom and discernment are awesome spiritual gifts! They can pair up together to knock down walls and set captives free. They can also be used to bludgeon someone…

“And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” I Cor. 13:2 (NRSV)

I think that verse sums it up nicely. We can be so many amazing things, with a plethora of talents and abilities. But if we aren’t using them in the spirit of Love, they become absolutely useless to God. 

That’s how God rolls though. He’s always wanting to partner up with us human beings to do great things. He equips us with extraordinary gifts so that we have something to contribute to that partnership. We are given these gifts for the sole purpose of using them with Him and in Him.

Here’s an analogy from my life as a mother to four:

I’m introducing  a new game to my kiddos, I am the one that sets it up. I give a brief overview of the rules, I give them their game pieces, and I promise to walk them through the strategy as we play.  Obviously, I know how to play. I’m not doing this for my own good, but for their’s. It’s a fun game! We are all going to have a lot of fun playing it together! But, eventually, my youngest kiddo gets bored… And, as he’s done on many other occasions,  he takes his game pieces off the board and starts throwing them at his older siblings. He’s laughing maniacally while doing so. He took the pieces gave him, ones that are intended for this game, and used them outside of it in playing his own game. One where the goal is to rile up his older brothers and sister. For his own amusement. 

So, yeah. The day after our falling out, I apologized for being insensitive. It was a genuine apology. I was totally in the wrong. I was effectively throwing my game pieces at my friend, and he got understandably defensive. 

That was over a week ago. 

I’ve been reflecting a lot lately on when it’s best to let go of a friendship in peril. It’s cruel to prolong the agony of a dying relationship. Of any kind. Real, Christ-like Love doesn’t hold onto its object with tightly fisted hands. Human beings can grow apart. The Unity God intends for the body of Christ is, sometimes best served by letting an arm be an arm, or an eye be an eye. We don’t have to remain in close proximity to each other in order to maintain Unity. The eye can see the arm, the arm can’t “see” the eye. Even if the arm is, for pragmatic purposes, far removed from the sensory experience and purpose of the eye, they both serve the same Body. 

I’m tired of getting poked in my eye. The whole “you are crazy thing” doesn’t hurt me because there is any semblence of truth in that statement.  It hurts because it’s untrue. It hurts because I am forever finding others trying their damnedest to discredit me, instead of just listening to what I have to say. I do not try to discredit my friends. Even if what I say stings, I don’t lie. I can’t lie. I hate lies. Lies abuse people and then cover up that abuse, and people suffer harm. Real harm. I know from personal experience.

And, really, I don’t have to lie. Because truth can do enough damage on its own. ::evil cackle::

So, dear old friend. It’s time to recognize the inevitabily of our separation. I’m glad to have known you, and I hope the best for you and yours. We both said things that hurt. I apologized for my wrong doing. But, reconciliation requires you to sidestep your ego as well. Since there is no sign of that happening anytime soon, I believe it’s time to part ways. Because your ego will never be safe in your friendship with me. Even if I speak the truth in Love, Ego wants no part of that. And I’m sick and tired of people feeling justified in calling me crazy. I mean, what the hell? That’s just plain intellectual laziness! If you really think I’m “crazy”, assuming you are qualified to make such an assessment, the least you could do for a friend is to give me a real diagnosis from your desktop copy of the DSM-V. Sheesh! I’d do it for you!


3 thoughts on “On Salt and Unfriending

  1. I could relate to so much of this post! There’s a really good book by Chris Brauns called Unpacking Forgiveness. It talks all about reconciliation and what forgiveness really is. People always say we are to just forgive but the goal is always towards reconciliation. So both parties need humility, like you said. I also really can’t stand lies. It’s one of the reason we left our church. For example, the pastors wife deleted me from Facebook and when I confronted her she came back with “I have no idea how that happened” her husband, the associate pastor talked to me about it and said something along the lines of “well you deleted her before”. Which was true. I had deleted her like a year earlier because I was using Facebook mainly for work so I deleted everyone that wasn’t work related. Not just her. So I responded that if I did something, I would rather know what I did so we could deal with it. The funny/strange thing was that her husband was also counseling us and was always talking about honesty and conflict and reconciliation. Guess he should have had that conversation with his wife. I think she just didn’t like me. Whatever. And I have been called crazy a ton of times because I am honest too. Sometimes it is the best to just let people go. Maybe they will come around later. Maybe not. I am learning people will be in my life for seasons and it’s my job to act God honoring. I can really relate to all you say and I don’t blame you for walking away.

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    1. Thank you, Elle:)
      I am learning that the church-friendly idea of forgiveness is, most often, very distorted. And this distorted version of forgiveness is taught to us because of a fundamental aversion to conflict. We’d rather pretend conflict doesn’t exist, or misplace blame. Humility requires us to acknowledge we can and do hurt others and can and do make mistakes. If we are in Christ, we ought to have boldness in acknowledging our human imperfections. That’s when Grace abounds. When we are allowed to see the power of this God we serve in making new what we’ve disfigured.
      Unfortunately, humility is key. Without it appearing on both sides, reconciliation cannot begin.

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