I know, I know. I've been slacking. I really do enjoy getting comments on my blog posts, but you can't keep commenting on the same post forever, right? I'm sorry. I've just gotten so caught up in day-to-day nonsense that I'm not taking the time to do the things I truly enjoy, like spilling my thoughts out for all of the world to read (or least the 5 or 6 of you who actually read my blog. By the way, thanks for reading.).
There has been a personal problem weighing on my mind pretty heavily within the past few weeks and I'm seeking some advice. I'd love to hear from someone who has some experience with this kind of issue. Let me explain....
I have (or possibly had, the jury is still out on this one) a friend. Lets call her "Jane" because I certainly wouldn't want to violate her privacy or hurt her feelings by discussing this with all of you. Jane and I met at work in 2001. We became friends and started going to lunch a few times a week. A couple of years later I left that job, but Jane and I remained friends. We would go to lunch or shopping about once a week, sometimes more often than that. I really enjoyed her company. Over time, Jane and I became close friends. We talked about just about everything. I learned that Jane struggles from depression and bi-polar disorder. I struggled with depression when I was a teenager so I can understand that. However, I don't know much about bi-polar disorder.
When Jane first met me in 2001, I would consider myself a "ride the fence" kind of Christian. I believed in God, but I didn't really have any strong convictions about my religious beliefs or what the Bible says. When I was in elementary school, I attended church fairly often, but as I got older I quit going and I didn't read the Bible much. Within the last few years I've felt the Lord working in my life, drawing me closer to Him. I started attending church regularly, I got Baptized, and I joined a Bible study group. The more I learn about God and his Word, the more passionate I've become about having a relationship with Him. I've also become more passionate about the things I believe. I'm a lot more firm in my beliefs these days. I'm not judging anyone, because we are all sinners. However, I'm not afraid to call sin for what it is, sin, even when it is my own sin.
Over the past year or so, Jane and I have had a few times when our friendship has been on rocky ground. These situations usually arise from an email. One day we are shopping and lunching together and she tells me what a great friend I am and how I am like a sister to her. The next day, I mention something in an email conversation, like abortion or politics, and the next thing I know she's telling me that I'm trying to tell everyone how to live their lives. (This isn't the case, by the way. I don't tell anyone how to live their life.) I know that email isn't always the best way to communicate because the written word cannot always accurately reflect the tone of the writer. However, I never considered this to be an issue I had to worry about with a close friend. Friends understand what you mean, right? Jane will turn something innocently said between friends into something hateful and judgmental. Usually, when this happens, after a few days of me explain what I was trying to say, she'll understand what I was saying and that I wasn't being judgemental. I was just having a conversation with my friend. One of the last times this happened, she told me she tends to overreact sometimes and that I needed to call her on it when she did.
Of course I want to bring others to Christ, but I can't do that on my own. God has to call them to Himself. I don't shove my beliefs down people's throat. As a matter of fact, I don't even discuss my beliefs in casual conversation unless the person I'm conversing with brings it up first. However, Jane and I have known each other for 8 years. I've always thought that with a good friend, you can discuss anything, without fear of being judged. Friends don't have to agree on every issue in order to be friends. I have lots of friends and family that have differing opinions. I don't get angry if their opinion is different from mine. They are my friends and family regardless of their religious or political beliefs. My best friend, Angie (real name), and I have been friends since we were 11 years old. There is nothing that she and I don't (and haven't) talked about. Even though we agree on most things, we don't agree on everything. That hasn't stopped us from being friends. It also hasn't stopped us from discussing the things we disagree on without worrying about getting angry at one another. I thought those rules were understood between friends. Am I wrong about this?
So, several weeks ago I got an email from Jane. She was talking about a co-worker/friend of hers that had told her that she thought God had placed Jane in her life for a reason. Jane said she thought it was wonderful to see God working in her life. I was at work when I got the email, so I just quickly replied back that God is always working in our lives and every once in a while we will actually get to see that. Then I mentioned that I had done a Bible study called, "Experiencing God" that had really helped me to learn to see God working in my life and had deepened my relationship with Christ. I said "I know you said you attend a Bible study group at church, may I suggest the Experiencing God series for your group." That was all that was said.
I get a reply from her talking about how everyone needs to live their lives as they see fit and that was okay. I agreed with this statement. I didn't understand where it was coming from, but I do agree that everyone has to live their own lives. She also said she would recommend the series to her group. I replied that I found the course to be very therapeutic and it really helped me search my soul and grow closer to God.
The next thing I know, I get this email accusing me of calling her a liar about the fact that she attends Bible study because I said, "I know you said you attend Bible study at church." She took the "I know you said" as some sort of affront to her honesty. That I didn't actually believe she attended Bible study. Then she went on to tell me that I'm judgemental. I tried to respond logically, reassuring her that I had no reason to doubt the fact that she attends a Bible study group, I was only following a train of thought. I also tried to reassure her that I was not judging her. I was only recommending this series because she said she enjoyed seeing God working in her life and this series helped me to better see Him working in my life. So why wouldn't I suggest this series to my friend? Well, the conversation went downhill from there.
I sent a couple of emails trying to figure out how all of a sudden I was a terrible friend when just a couple of days before she was telling me I was a great friend, that I was like a sister to her. I also reminded her that she told me to bring it to her attention if I thought she was over-reacting to something. Of course, that went over like a ton of bricks.
I just wonder, is it the bi-polar disorder that is causing the problem? I don't think I said anything offensive, especially since Jane attends a Christian church and has a Bible study group.
I haven't heard from Jane in several weeks now. I really miss her, but this "friendship" has sometimes been difficult and caused me great turmoil and heartache. A couple of weeks ago I sent her a card just telling her that I missed her, that I was praying for blessings in her life, and to call if she ever needed me. I also left her a voicemail saying something similar. I've gotten no response from her.
It has totally left me brokenhearted. Someone I love and trusted, someone I considered a good friend, just turned on me. We lunched together, we shopped together, I drove her to and from hospital visits (for an unrelated medical condition) and spent 12 hours in an emergency room with her. I've been there anytime she needed to talk. I thought I was being a good friend. I thought that since she was a good friend, I could discuss anything with her without her taking it personally or as some sort of judgement on her life. However, in this case, I don't think I said anything that controversial. This whole situation has me completely confused. I know that God has this situation under control and I have to trust Him to work it out for His glory. I'm just trying to figure out what went wrong.
Is this something that happens with people who suffer from bi-polar disorder, or am I a bad friend, as Jane says? Maybe you can help me sort through this mess. Let me know what you think.
On to happier thoughts....
This past Sunday I went to the zoo with my sister, my mom, my nephew, and my niece. We had a lot of fun, and of course I had my camera. It was a nice day here in Kentucky on Sunday. It was in the 70s (when it usually in the upper 80s or lower 90s with 50-80% humidity). Since we were having such lovely weather, I thought a day at the zoo with the kids would be fun. Apparently, everyone else in the city thought it would be a good day to go to the zoo. I spent 20 minutes just trying to find a parking space! Despite the delay in the parking lot, we had a nice time. I got some nice photos of the kids and I took some photos of flowers (as seen below), which I am prone to do. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to comment on what I've discussed above or the photos below (or both). Thank you, loyal readers, for keeping me company.