January 06, 2008

The Lord's Faithfulness to Me...Today

This is an encouraging e-mail I rec'd today from a friend of mine with whom I went to college. One of my best friends through school, actually, and someone I met the very first day I moved into the dorm. She suffered majorly from chronic depression and lived in and out of sin the entire time I knew her (not that I was claiming to be perfect), yet claiming to be a Christian. At the point which ended up being the end of our friendship, I felt very strongly that I needed to challenge her to walk a different path and change her life drastically. She was living as an apostate, though I didn't use that word. I was physically sick the three days preceding this confrontation... I knew it was about her eternity and it could quite possibly not go over well at all. Anyway, it did not go well that day. Honestly, I don't remember many details after that, but I do remember that it was just not good.

We had many, many great times in college... we laughed a lot and went through a lot together. As hard as it was to see her struggle and to confront her, I really missed her as a friend. Anyway, I have prayed for her, "googled" her name, dreamt about her, felt certain I've seen her in a crowd somewhere, all the while begging the Lord to rescue her from herself. And I've missed her.

Here's the e-mail I got today... 10 years later! Thought it might encourage you guys. I have been so excited all afternoon. I just wish she was here so I could hug her and have her see my tears of joy for her! Ten years later, the Lord shows me the answer to my prayers for her...

One P.S. here... several people have made comments about seeing the Lord's fruit from what I did ten+ years ago. That is not at all my point here... my point is how excited/relieved I was to hear that my friend is doing well... she has found peace and is resting in the Lord. It had not even occurred to me that I needed an apology. I just wanted to know that she was well.

Sent: Sunday, January 06, 2008 4:07 PM
Subject: An apology from an old friend

Hi Melissa. It's ______________, well ___________ now. Please forgive this intrusion. I found Sharon [my college roommate with whom I attend church now] and she gave me your email. I hope that you are not upset by this. I have been looking for you to apologize for my behavior. I treated your horribly when we were friends and after 11 years of running, God has told me that I can't hide and I need to ask you to forgive me. I was confused about what the world said I was and what God said I was. I looked to others for who I was because it was what I had always done. I guess that is why I was so confused; I heard so many different answers to my question-Who am I? You took a lot of my confusion and tried to help me sort it all out. You tried to point me in the right direction. For that I am now thankful. Your guidance has helped me to become who I am today; not who I was.

In October of '96, I was diagnosed with clinical depression, which over the years escalated to major depression and then Bi-Polar. I accepted these labels because it gave me an excuse for my behavior and allowed me to blame others for my mistakes. Last year, I started a class at our church called Celebrate Recovery to help me deal with my anger. It is like AA but with a Christian base. It is written by John Baker out of Saddleback Church in Colorado. One of the ladies in my class said to us one day that co-dependency is partly defined as trying to blame others for the mistakes that you make so that you do not have to face blame or deal with the consequences. God really spoke to me and I realized I had hurt so many people along the way. I used my anger to cover up my dependency on others to define me. I have since shrugged off the Bi-Polar label, it was my crutch, even though I will admit there is probably a chemical imbalance in my brain. I need to offer apologies and forgiveness where is is due. Some people that I hurt, I cannot contact because it would be more painful for me and my family than just dealing with it and praying for them and for reconciliation in Heaven. And likewise, probably not good for them either. There has been a lot of water under the bridge. With you, God kept nudging me to reach out and make the effort. You and Sharon offered forgiveness when I needed it and I threw it back at you. You tried to help me and I got so angry for being told I was wrong. I'm sorry.

Thank you for what you did for me when we were in school. I want you to know that I do not expect anything from you; you can delete this and go on with life, but I had to be obedient. I hope this does not cause any friction or problems in your home. Best wishes, _____________

And since someone asked, I definitely wrote back! Here's the bulk of it:

First of all, I wish you were here in person so I could just give you a big ole hug! You are no intrusion! I have thought about you many times over the years and prayed that the Lord had rescued you. I have been in public places where I was certain it was you in the crowd somewhere, I've had dreams about you, I've googled "__________" more than once hoping I'd find out you were okay. I am so thankful that the Lord has rescued you!

Honestly, I have had to think about the details of that last semester together to remember hurtful things you did, and I don't recall them even as hurtful. I think the Lord has just cleanerd my memory, I guess. I know you were struggling majorly with depression. It was hard for me to watch you struggle with that so badly. Knowing little about depression, I did know enough to know that the Lord was your (is our) only hope. I prayed and prayed that day before I came to your room to challenge you to turn around. I was physically sick over it. But I knew it was worth your eternity. I just wanted you to have HOPE! I do apologize if I handled it wrongly, more abrasively than I should. (I have prayed for gentleness and graciousness in my old age!) I honestly can't remember specifics now, but I'm sure I was more abrasive than need be, though the root of my challenge was only because I cared for you so much.

I will say that when I have thought of you so many times, hurt has been the last thing on my mind. I remember fondly many good times we had. You were one of my very best friends through my college years, and that is what I remember. Maybe I'm crazy, but I remember a lot of fun and comfortable times we had together. I knew all along you were struggling deeply with depression and bi-polar (though I didn't really know what it was), but I remember many good times.

I am so thankful that the Lord is faithful to finish what he starts in us! We have Celebrate Recovery at our church and it is helping many people. I'm so thankful for your the Lord has used it in your life.


Matt said...

WOW Lissa...praise the Lord!
I have always admired your resolve to follow the Lord's leading...even when it's been hard. I am SO GLAD for you, that the Lord gave you this blessing. And I am so glad that God has brought healing in ______'s life and restoration in your relationship. WOW! Maybe God will allow you guys to build on it from afar...maybe not...but He's God so I guess it's up to Him.
Anyway, I'm proud of you for sticking it out!
Love ya,

P.S. This also brings back vague memories of a friend of Jeni's that she had witnessed to while in high school, and 4-7 years later (while we were in AK, I think) she gave her life to the Lord. I hope that's accurate...but I think so.

Marcie K. said...

Crazy! I think this is totally a testament of God's love and faithfulness to us all - Faithfulness that those we love are delivered and faithfulness that God works in all things to fulfill the desires of or hearts and prayers! Lissa and Sharon - thanks for your unwavering testimony to us all 10+ years ago. You all have been used by God to change so many peoples lives for His glory...you certainly changed mine! I am eternally grateful!