The sea of faces flashed before me. Old faces, young faces. Black faces, white faces, Hispanic, and Asian faces. Male and female. Adults and teens. Some I knew well, some I didn’t know at all. Some had been faithful friends. Some had deserted me. And some had turned on me and stabbed me in the back.
They were all potential Facebook “Friends.”
If you never seen a Facebook page, there are pictures of “Friends” that you can choose from to connect with by sending a “Friend Request.” Once you send a “Friend Request” you wait for them to confirm, and then you are officially “Facebook Friends.”
When I first joined Facebook a year ago, I had to decide who I would choose to be my Facebook friends. At first I started with friends from my church whom I feel very comfortable with. They were “safe people” to me. Later I branched out and sent “Friend Requests” to all the women at my church. Then I looked among my homeschool friends, college friends, and friends from other cities where I have lived.
I saw many faces of dear friends from my college days that I had lost touch with. I saw women from previous churches I have attended that I love dearly. I saw some that I had discipled and even baptized. And then I saw the smiling faces of those who had stabbed me in the back and betrayed me.
I sent Friend Requests to all of my acquaintances but two women who had hurt me deeply. These women were not just acquaintances or close friends…they had been best friends. The ones who know us best that have the potential to hurt us the most. I was not willing to have them hurt me again, so I purposefully chose NOT to reconnect with them.
I had been studying Paul’s prayer for the Philippians in Chapter 1. I got stuck trying to figure out how their abounding love would cause them to grow in holiness. What does love have to do with holiness, anyway? One passage that answers this question is from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5. Jesus says, in verse 44, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you.” He goes on to allude to how easy it is for us to love those who love us and who are believers like us. Jesus concludes that by doing these things, ie loving our enemies, we will be holy and complete, just as God is.
As I read these passages, Holy Spirit quickly began to convict my heart. In choosing my Facebook friends, I chose those who loved me first. And then I chose those who went to churches in Wilmington and Raleigh…believers just like me. It was very easy for me to love those who love me and who believe like me. But what about those women I knew intimately but passed over and did not request to be my Facebook Friends?
They were my enemies.
They had hurt me with their words and their accusations. They had abandoned me when I needed them the most. I grieved the loss of their friendship for many years, like one who grieves for a sister who has died. I did not want to open myself up to be hurt by them again.
After reading Jesus’ admonition to love my enemies, God posed these question to my heart:
Could I love these women, too?
Could I be a peacemaker and reach out to them on Facebook?
Could I take the first step to reconnect with them?
Would I humble myself to do this?
Would I trust my heart and the risk of getting hurt again to Him?
These were women who I did not want to reconnect with. I did not want them to know about my life or the secrets of my heart. I did not want to open myself for their rebuke and correction for where they believed I was deficient.
I won’t lie to you ladies, it wasn’t easy. But I got my bottom out of my Bible study chair and went to my computer. I pulled up Facebook, and searched for those ladies. And I sent them Friend Requests. One of them responded and became my Facebook friend, and one of them refused me. I am glad that I did it. I am glad that I was obedient to God’s leading and was a peacemaker. It has led to an improved relationship with one of them.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons of God.” Matthew 5:9
What about you? Is there someone who has hurt you, perhaps an enemy, that you can show love to today? Is there a neighbor you can wave to, or a church friend that you can speak to, a coworker you can serve, or even someone to Friend on Facebook? Be brave and take that first step in showing love. It may be the beginning of a beautiful reconciliation.