Losing a Friend Because of Internet Words

So you may know I wrote this book.

wall-around-your-heart

I’m grateful, but also sad. Every time I write a book, I learn something. And almost every time, the lesson I learn corresponds directly to the message of the book. (And surprise, surprise, this book has to do when other Christians hurt you).

So when Thomas Nelson asked for my Acknowledgements section, I did something a little different. I pulled back the veil on a friendship heartache. I wrote:

I’ve written a lot of these paragraphs about what I’m grateful for and who has deeply blessed me as I’ve written my books. This time I want to do something a little different. This book is about relationships. About people and hurt and joy.

Every time I write a book, I worry a little that God will cause me to go through a trial related to the book’s contents. Imagine my fear when I wrote about spiritual warfare, or my hesitation when I wrote the book, Everything.

And truth be told, God did take me on an “everything” journey last year. Right before the book released, our youngest daughter had scary hospital-worthy symptoms (she is since better, alleluia). Our finances shimmied. My career felt wrecked. So many other stressful circumstances vied for my attention, so much so that I felt I needed a break from my life. Have you ever felt that way? Jesus remained, but everything else seemed to crumble.

Everything, that is, except my relationships. We’re in a healthy place, joyful in a great church. I have significant friendships and incredible support. But as The Wall Around Your Heart births, I’m painfully aware of one relationship that has crumbled. A long time friend and I experienced a rift that breaks my heart. In those places of heartache and why, I’ve only been able to settle myself by reimagining our relationship fully whole on heaven’s shores.

So I acknowledge this friend and pray for restoration. The seeming demise of a friendship keeps me close to Jesus, and it reminds me to pray for you, the reader, as you battle your own relational minefields. This stuff is hard, folks. But you are brave to hold and read this book.

The friendship loss has to do with my voice here on the web, about something I wrote that offended. The damage has been done. No amount of apologizing or retracting mended the relationship.

Which goes to show three things:

  1. We need to be careful what we write online. We should be mindful that our words carry power.
  2. But (and this is an important but), we also need to write what we’re meant to write, even if it means fallout.
  3. Sometimes an event like this exposes our friendships and reveals what’s really inside.

I wrote The Wall Around Your Heart as a roadmap toward relational wholeness, to help readers move from embittered to free using the Lord’s Prayer as a unique, Jesus-breathed pathway. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I now need to re-read my own book as I walk in the aftermath of a friendship ending.

My tendency is toward bitterness. I still rehash what could have been, what I did wrong, what hurt me. My prayer is that I won’t let this incident prevent me from pursuing other friendships, or even humbling myself in approaching my estranged friend.

This is difficult work, friends. It aches way down deep. Sometimes I grow exhausted because of past community pain. And yet, I remember Jesus who stooped to earth, washed the feet of His betrayer, and carried my muck upon His shoulders on that cross the world made for him. He’s my example. And that’s why His prayer is a healing balm for me as I process grief.

I learned something paradoxical about community in the aftermath of relational heartache. I speak about it briefly here:

So, what about you? Have you experienced a friendship loss? Was there reconciliation? Or are you in that painful in between time where there’s no clear resolution? Have you ever experienced the loss of a friendship because of something you’ve written online?

If this post resonated, would you be willing to tweet it? 🙂

Yes, it happens. We can lose friendships because of our words online. http://marydemuth2.wpengine.com/losing-friend-internet/ (Click to tweet).

(This post originally posted on Deeper Story.)