August 27, 2014
When a Friend Gets Knocked Down by Words
Anxiety weighs down the heart, but a kind word cheers it up(Proverbs 12:25, NIV).
Friend to Friend
It was just a bit of burlap peaking out from underneath the soil, but to our golden retriever, Ginger, it was a challenge that needed to be pursued.
Shortly after we had planted a maple tree in our backyard, we went on vacation. It was the first time we had left Ginger home alone, and 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 our pet was fairing.
“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,” Cathy confirmed. “The tree is lying in the yard on its side.”
When we got home, we assessed the situation. It seemed that 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. A few times we had caught her pawing at the burlap, reprimanded her with a stern “no,” and she had walked away.
I imagine that the moment we pulled out of the driveway with a packed car, she crept over to the forbidden tree and began to dig. 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 mean time. It was never about the tree.
As I stared at the poor little maple lying helplessly in the yard in the hot drying sun, I thought about how many friends I’ve observed in the same state. I thought about friends I have known, and even myself for that matter, who have been toppled for much the same reason.
Perhaps someone has a little flaw that comes to the surface in plain view. Then someone else comes along and decides that the flaw is a nuisance and must be exposed at all cost. Someone starts digging and digging—flinging dirt in every direction, with no thought as to what all the digging is doing to the friend. The rough burlap may be unearthed, but unfortunately the friend lies toppled 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 lovely bow of love. If we take any joy whatsoever in the process, then we must stop and check our motives and attitude.
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, it 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 thrive.
Thankfully, Ginger left the tree alone after that episode. After all—she never cared about the tree in the first place.
Dear Heavenly Father, I’ll admit that sometimes I act like Ginger and dig for the dirt rather than care for the person. Help love always to be my ultimate goal. If I ever have one bit of pleasure in correcting someone, I pray that I will keep my mouth shut and worry about the dirt in my own life that needs to be cleaned up.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever been “toppled” by someone trying to correct you or expose a mistake you’ve made? How did you feel?
Read and ponder it today.
“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?” Luke 6:41 NIV
Here’s your assignment today: Be on the lookout for someone who looks like he or she has been topped, or is about to topple, and brace them up with a kind word.
If you’ll join me in being an encourager today, click over to my Facebook page and say, “I’m on the lookout!”
More from the Girlfriends
I bet as you read today’s devotion, you remembered a time when you lay toppled and exposed by the comments of another person. Just remembering how we felt ought to be enough to keep us from doing it to someone else. But it takes practice to hold our tongues and concentrate on our own specks…or should I say logs! If you would like to learn more about how to use your words to build up your friends rather than topple them emotionally, see my book,The Power of a Woman’s Words.
On September 8, 2014, I’ll begin my on-line fall Bible Study on The Power of a Woman’s Words. I have the book and Bible study guide specially priced for the months of August and September. Those who sign up will receive access to free video lessons and a free video viewing guide. Click here to view a sample video lesson. This is perfect for church groups, small groups, or individual study. Click here to sign up and learn more. We’re going to learn about the power we possess, the people we impact, and the potential to change. Hope to see you there!
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