Have you ever experienced the kind of love that feels absolutely NOTHING like love? Tough love, the get-in-your-face-and-call-your-bluff kind of love?
I have. And it felt like my skin was being ripped off. It hurt.
The ladies in this picture loved me until I could love myself.
We were all at JSU together, knitted together through discipleship groups, beach projects, and living under the same roof. These are the ones I studied God's word with, prayed with, laughed and cried with, and spent countless hours with. We knew each other well. I also stood beside each one of them as a bridesmaid as they married the men of their dreams. Our friendships were strong...until I decided that drugs were more important than anything else on this Earth.
What I didn't know is that these are some of the people who would literally help save my life.
These are the women who had such a passion for God's word and hatred for sin that they would not stand back and watch me kill myself with drugs and alcohol. They refused to stand on the sidelines any longer. They (along with some others that aren't in this picture) were used to open my eyes to see God for who he is.
Now, let's take off the rose-colored glasses. It was u-g-l-y at the time. I was angry, exposed, humiliated, and vulnerable. And when you are living in darkness, the last thing you want is light to come in and expose what you are working so hard to protect. Trust me, nothing about it was pretty at the time. They were just out to get me. So, I wanted nothing to do with any of them. I thought they were cruel and hypocritical. Every last one of them. They were taking away the only thing I could find comfort in. They just didn't understand me. They didn't understand what I had been through.
Why wouldn't they just let me live my life and they live theirs?
Because they loved me enough to lose me. To lose our friendship.
Only in hopes that just maybe God would use their tough love and truth they spoke so that I would repent.
God used these ladies to get my attention and get me into treatment at New Life (again, I thought being "sent off" was cruel and unusual punishment for just enjoying some pills and vodka-- denial!!). I am so thankful for that tough love. God heard them when they "stood in the gap" for me. He pursued me and brought me to a place of repentance.
These women cared more about God's glory than my comfort.
That is what I call LOVE.
I got to see them all today for the first time in a year and a half. I was anxious and wondering what it would be like.
Would they still be upset with me? I hurt them. I lied, stole, and manipulated for years.
Would they doubt my sincerity?
Would they even speak?
What do they expect me to be like?
They were just excited to have their friend "back". I left refreshed, encouraged, hopeful, and thankful. Thankful that these women believe, understand, and live the gospel.
Every single day.
My prayer is that I will be the kind of friend that these ladies have been to me. Even if it hurts. As long as sin is struck down and God's glory is made known.
"...speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love." -Ephesians 4:15-16