Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience”
(Colossians 3:12 NIV)
Friend to Friend
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger, our Golden Retriever, home alone. A neighbor fed and watched out for her while we were away. On the second day of our trip, I called Cathy to see how Ginger was doing.
“Well, Ginger’s fine,” Cathy reported. “But you know that tree you planted last week? She dug it up!”
“She did what!” I exclaimed.
“She dug it up. The tree is lying in the yard.”
When we got home, we walked over to the toppled tree. Ginger tucked her tail and slunk into the garage like the bad dog she was.
When we planted the tree, we left a small piece of the burlap around the root ball exposed. Ginger spied that remnant peeking out of the ground and wanted it…bad. Several times we had caught her pawing at the burlap and reprimanded her with a stern “no!”She ducked her head, crept away and waited for a more opportune time. I imagine that the moment she saw us load suitcases in the car and pull out of the driveway, she tiptoed over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. (Can dogs tiptoe? I think they can.) She must have dug and dug for hours with all her puppy might—flinging dirt in every direction. I’ve got to get to the bottom of this, she might have thought. This must be exposed!
Finally, she accomplished her mission and the burlap was totally uncovered! Exposed! Of course, she gave no thought to the tree she toppled in the meantime. It was never about the tree.
As I stared at the poor little maple lying helplessly in the hot summer sun, I thought about many friends, and myself for that matter, who’ve been in the same state—toppled and left to wither in the heat of glaring eyes.
Perhaps someone has a little flaw that peeks through the surface of his or her character. Then someone else comes along and decides that the flaw is a nuisance and must be exposed at all cost. That someone starts digging and digging—flinging dirt in every direction with no thought as to what all the digging is doing to the person’s heart.
Before you know it, the rough burlap, the unsightly character flaw, is unearthed and exposed for all to see. And the victim of that digging lies topped in the process. Lifeless, wounded, exposed—and for what purpose? To satisfy someone’s dogged determination to uncover a rough edge.
There are times in any friendship when confrontation is necessary, but we must always make sure that the confrontation is wrapped in prayer and tied with the ribbon of love. If we take any joy whatsoever in the process, then we must stop and check our motives and attitude.
Jesus said: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3-5 NIV).
Here’s another truth to tether to Jesus’ words above: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12 NIV). So the choice is, do we want to be a dirt slinger or a comfort bringer?
Steve and I gently removed what was left of the burlap sack around the root system, carefully sat the maple back up into her prepared soil, and lovingly patted the dirt back around her parched roots. Then, because of her weakened state, we braced her up with ropes tied to three stakes in the ground. I watered the weary maple daily, not knowing if she would recover from the trauma. In the end, the tree not only survived, she thrived.
Oh, that we would do the same for our toppled friends. When we see a friend who has been wounded by words, we can slowly stand her back up, lovingly reestablish her roots in the good soil of God’s Word, gently brace her up with kindness, and water her daily with prayer. Who knows? You may even help her not only survive, but also thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that episode. After all—she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Lord, I want to be a comfort bringer not a dirt slinger. Show me a friend who has been knocked down by life and give me the right words to brace them back up.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Who is someone you know who was knocked down by a person’s dogged determination to expose a flaw or bring a sin to light?
Today consider writing that person a note or sending an email of encouragement.
More from the Girlfriends
Sharon’s best-selling book, The Power of a Woman’s Words: How the Words You Speak Shape the Lives of Others and Bible study guide are being re-released with new content, including a chapter on the power of a woman’s words to her adult children…it’s complicated! Pre-order before April 21, 2020 and receive a free downloadable e-book of Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence plus much more! Click here for details.
Words are one of the most powerful forces in the universe, and God has entrusted them to you! They echo in hearts and minds long after they are spoken. How will we use this gift? Your words can change the course of someone’s day…even someone’s life. Learn how to
- exchange careless words that hurt for intentional words that help others succeed
- recognize words that tear down confidence and replace them with words that build others up
- overcome the negativity that pushes people away and become a well of positivity that draws others in
- tame your tongue by practicing practical principles that help you think before you speak
- stop being disappointed in your lack of control by taking hold into the power of the Holy Spirit