When Your Friends Let You Down
There is something devastatingly soul crushing when your friends let you down. The experience may be even more intense for we introverts who prefer deep, but limited-in-quantity relationships, but I can't independently verify that.
Our friends, who are supposed to know us best, who are supposed to know the things that hurt us most, still find ways to let us down and hurt us. Sometimes it is our fault. We may never take the blame for not better communicating our emotional needs, but even when it is our fault it's still our friend's fault because, well, they should know better! They are my friends after all!
Alas, we fragile and depraved humans are destined to be let down and do our fair share of coming up short. No matter how hard we try to avoid it, healthy relationships have a little bit of sour to them.
Jesus' Friends Sucked.
Judas sold him out. His closest friends longed more for sleep than the comfort of their friend. Peter publicly denied they had even met, much less spent three good years together. At the lowest point of his earthly life (and just before the highest point of any spiritual life), Jesus felt the sting of being let down by his friends.
I've read the story of Jesus' final hours a hundred times and I still can't believe his loving responses to those who hurt him. In the middle of Judas' Messiah sale, Jesus calls him "friend". After his resurrection, Jesus goes out of his way to restore the dignity and the ministry of Peter - the one who claimed that they had never even met. The source of rejection that Jesus faced was not the wishy-washy crowds who followed for the magic show with cool supernatural miracles. The source was the ones whom he lived with, traveled with, ate with. In short, the rejection of Jesus came from his closest friends.
Some of my friends suck, too.
It is taboo to publicly announce that your friends suck. But honesty is what I have promised you, so I hold not this back. I could tell you about a time when my marriage was crumbling and my friends had no time for me. I could tell of times when I was finally courageous enough to share my vulnerabilities and fears and was met with no response whatsoever. I could speak of times when my closest friends used me a stepping stone to climb up the social ladder. It sucks.
You have stories like this too, don't you? You thought your friends had your back, and they didn't. Someone may have lied about you to make themselves look better. You spend hours listening to your friends complain and the moment you need an ear they totally ignore you. These are common experiences for us all. How do I know this? Because we humans, despite our best efforts, are really bad at relationships.
We suck, too.
Let us not fall into the woe-is-me trap just yet. We both have to realize that we have done our fair share of letting our friends down, too. It is never prudent to point the finger at others without confessing that there are at least three pointing directly back at us. I am fairly certain that our innate selfishness is the cause of most of our relational dysfunction. We simply would rather serve our own interest than the interest of others. We must admit this fact if there is to be hope for better relationships in the future.
We have no control over the actions of others, though it is tempting to think of the benefits of such power. We do, however, share the same power with Jesus when it comes to reacting to being let down by our friends. We, like Jesus, can forgive, reconcile, and restore. We can look our betrayers in the eye and still call them friend. And if you are a Christian, you can say and actually mean it, too. The same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead is the same Spirit of Reconciliation and is the same that unifies the Church and is the same Spirit that dwells in you. Oh, Christian, you have the same Spirit that enables you to look your friends - the same ones who devastated you - and forgive them and call continually call them, "friend."