(Part one is here and Part two is here.)
To catch us all up: Part one is where I wrestle with the truth that God may glorify Himself in my life through my weaknesses and afflictions much more than through my strengths and blessings. Part two is where I wrestle with the truth that female friendship for me has always been complicated and usually fraught with hurts.
I do not think I am the only woman who has ever been stunned by the truth that Christian friendships are not immune to sin's toxicity. I do not think either that I am the only woman who has ever been disillusioned by the betrayal of another woman who professes Christ as loudly as I do. To state anything less than I have been on the giving and receiving end of ungodly behavior in relationships is a lie. I have both sinned and been sinned against in Christian female friendships.
What should have been some of my most edifying relationships have more than once become the deepest hurts.
So then, where does biblical reconciliation fit into the picture. Reconciliation is the process where two parties at odds with one another are restored to harmony. When it comes to human interactions, both persons are in some way responsible for the disharmony, because of direct and indirect actions, sinful thoughts, deceitful hearts and the like. The whole idea of only one person being entirely guilty is a myth I believe lives somewhere with Sasquatch. It is therefore impossible for biblical reconciliation to occur where only one person confesses sin in the matter. Being a Christian should make biblical reconciliation easier, but it does not always do so.
Fitzpatrick's challenge about God's sovereign purposes and Kim's question about Christian female friendships had my thoughts on a collision course as to what then does survive in the latter and is glorified by the former?
I'm lifting a portion of my comment from Kim's post on this topic: "In continuing to think about this topic I realized that the "kindred spirits" friendships I have developed and kept are all with women who have been, even quite severely, tested and refined by God. They have an uncommon love & gratitude for His overwhelming mercy. They love to think the deep thoughts and don't major in the shallow end. These are the women who show themselves trustworthy in my own difficulties and don't run for fear of "contagion" in affliction. Conversations that do not get past the latest trend or TV show do not have this intimacy."
Clarity like lightning struck my tree. The women with whom I have grown most close to in the years are undeniably the women who have chosen the no matter, whatever, however, and whenever blessing of the Lord as theirs. They are not walking around asking for affliction but when it comes knocking, and it does, they lean further into His word and promises rather than leaning away and upon the world's props.
Not perfectly even, but with the wrestling match perseverance of Jacob. They come away scathed, marked and scarred, and they do not run out to purchase Mederma so they can hide those scars. They wear them with the understanding that these are not marks of superiority but of His great love to conform them to the image of Christ who wears the greatest scars from the Cross.
In learning what drives these women to walk the hard path, they have challenged me and loved me more truly as Christ loves because they have a deep, abiding love for His grace shown to them.
On the other hand, the friendships that should have been edifying but became toxic involved great immaturity towards the things of the Lord. On both sides. The collision of immaturity plus the presence of pride, selfishness and unrepentance easily led to breakage. Even irreconcilable breakage.
If you've endured this long, you deserve a muffin. I just baked 36 of them. Come on over. In the meantime, there is still a part four to come. Succinct I am not always.