The Breaking Rock
I have a picture that I see in my head. I see it often. The picture is as follows: me throwing myself onto a rock. The rock saves me from the crashing waves of a storm, and from the eminent death of the undertow. It also sorta breaks me. This rock that both saves and breaks me is Christ. Christ the cornerstone and the stumbling block. In Him I find salvation and in Him I find brokenness. The brokenness that this rock gives is not destruction. Rather, it is the first step to wholeness.
In Friendship, the thing that freed me up the most to be me and to be a true friend and to be at peace in the friendships I have was… utter brokenness. I think most people have dealt with rejection issues in one way or another. For many, feelings of rejection look like this: feelings of not being enough, not being cool, not being wanted. These feelings, these bitter roots follow many of us into adulthood. I had my own share of these issues, and though much of it was dealt with in my late teens, some lingered on. It can go deep, you know? I don’t want bitterness to dictate how I see people, how I operate in the body of Christ, or how I build friendship. So I have been purposeful to weed these roots out.
But let me tell you a story about how it was rooted out in an intense way.
This is a true story
Please Note: The details and the facts have been changed to protect the innocent.
It was spring, 1923. My dear friend was planning a backpacking trip through Italy. It was invite only. Very exclusive. My friend and I hadn’t spent as much time that year as we normally did. She was busy working for a non profit, I was working hard as director of the local college’s Spanish Club. But still, we were dear friends. I was excited for the trip and for the quality time we would get to spend together.
But as it turned out, She didn’t think I was a good match for the trip. She didn’t want me to come along. Turns out at that point I was a nice extra in the film of her life, not so much a leading character. She went to Italy. I cried for a month. She came back from Italy. Life went on as though nothing had happened. Except, every time I saw her, I started bawling. She never saw me bawl though. I’m good like that. I wasn’t mad about not traveling. I can live with that. But the situation sorta made me think that maybe people didn’t take my friendship seriously. I really started wondering what kind of a friend I was.
I’m not usually that dramatic. Not even close. I’ve never gone through this with anyone before or since, no matter if they have continually lied to me, or if they have hated me, left me, lied about me. But this one time, for whatever reason, by the grace of God, it kinda wrecked me. I had to throw myself on the Rock and let the brokenness have its way so that the healing could be complete.
I reevaluated every aspect of my friendship life. Am I kind? Do I listen? Can I relate to others? Do I encourage my friends to seek God? Am I myself following hard after him? I threw myself on the Rock. Again, and again, and again. I let him break me open, I let him heal me. Break me. Heal me. Show me that which is rubbish and remove it. Some call it the refiner’s fire. If you want pure gold, you must be willing to go through fire.
Some Walks You Have to Take Alone
In the book Mocking Jay there’s this fantastic quote. “There are some walks you have to take alone.” This was true for me. My story, which didn’t actually take place in 1923, and actually has nothing to do with Italy, was a game changer for me. Because it broke within me the roots of bitterness, the roots of rejection that were too deep for me to pull out with my own sheer strength. The dramatic phase died out, and I went on with living my life. As you may have guessed though, my life is different now. Because when you’re a person who LOVES PEOPLE, when you are a people person, who loves people, and loves serving, and loves having friends, and (oh dear, am I rambling?) loves serving people…
Can you imagine how much better my life is? Do you know how nice it is to serve people with the freedom that comes from no bitter roots being in you? Can you imagine how much easier it is to make accidental friends when you aren’t placing weird unknown pressure on them because you need so badly to feel wanted and important. (It’s nice to feel those things, but the pressure of *having to* feel them is suffocating.) I look at my husband and say, “Man! I love being able to serve in such a pure way. I love being able to truly love people. Without hinderances tying my heart down.” And I know that as far as friendship goes, one of the best things that ever happened to me was being truly rejected. Because it led me to the rock that broke the “already-broken-me.” So that I could be whole and healed.
So if you ask me, “What’s the first step to building great relationships?” My best answer would probably be this, “Face rejection. Face it straight on. Let it be ripped out of you. Throw yourself onto the living Rock, and find yourself in Jesus.” This, and only this, has given me freedom to LOVE loving people. Let us find ourselves on the Rock.