We will all be let down, disappointed, & hurt by friends. We will all let down, disappoint, & hurt friends. It happens, & will happen – & a lot of the time it will be unintentional, due to funky circumstances, the pace of life, bad planning &/or bad choices. If I’m expecting a friend to be perfect, to always ‘be there’ or ‘be here’ (pick your location… those two phrases drive me nuts anyway…) I’m putting unrealistic expectation on them – expectations that only Jesus could fulfill – so I have to know how to communicate through & about hurt feelings, frustrations, & disappointments… & know that friends, real friends will do this. And are worth the same love, acceptance, & forgiveness that I hope to receive when I biff it.
Julius Caesar was murdered on the ides of March, (the 15th for those people in the real world.) It was a terrible murder carried out by a mob of Roman senators… but perhaps the most brutal part of the whole thing was Caesar’s seeing his friend, his best friend, Brutus, with a knife in his hand, waiting to plunge it into Caesar’s back. And Caesar is incredulous, he can’t believe what is happening, what has happened, what Brutus has done. And that’s when he utters the famous line, “You too, Brutus?”
It’s really a great picture of what I’m talking about (esp. in Shakespeare’s version of it.)
Betrayal of friendship, real, deep, true friendship is different than being let down or disappointed – I believe it involves intentionality, pride, spitefulness, & it leaves the deepest wounds – because the wounds come from someone who with whom you’ve been transparent, open, intimate… someone that’s been trusted implicitly. And when the betrayal comes, it feels like something unreal has happened… almost like right after a car-accident, where you’re in shock, & can’t quite clear your head, like you’re dreaming & just need to roll over in order to wake up & see life restored to being “alls as it should be.” But it doesn’t happen. And the unbelief of what has happened lingers, & the sting deepens.
In my studies for the Growing Up series, I discovered that this type of act in a friendship would fall under the category of a tragic loss – & is different than a “transitional loss” where people, due to distance, changing jobs, value & priority shifts, grow apart & see the ‘level’ of friendship diminish, not based on something destructive that has happened, but based on ‘less time, energy, & resources’ expended to maintain the friendship.
The tragic loss is just what it sounds – almost like a divorce, the discovery of a terrible disease, the uncovering of infidelity – it’s not something that one just puts on the British ‘stiff upper lip” & moves on. It’s something that MUST be grieved… because otherwise, it becomes a life changing event, the kind of event where a person makes vows never to ‘trust anyone that deeply’ again. They shut down. Stop risking & stop growing. Treat everyone as ‘just another person that is going to hurt me.’
Once again, I find myself reading David’s laments in the Psalms – he has experienced this & writes:
It is not an enemy who taunts me— I could bear that. It is not my foes who so arrogantly insult me—I could have hidden from them. Instead, it is you—my equal, my companion and close friend. What good fellowship we enjoyed as we walked together to the house of God. Let death seize my enemies by surprise; let the grave swallow them alive, for evil makes its home within them. But I will call on God, and the LORD will rescue me. Psalm 55:12-16 NLT
I don’t know what events or what friendship David was referring to – it might have been the betrayal by Ahithophel, his trusted friend & advisor (the history on that starts in 2Samuel 15,) or something else. I just know that when I read Psalm 55, it resonated.
At a time like that, all I want to do is hide in my dark closet, & never come out. What I usually do is cry out to God – with cries & sometimes some loud yells. Pain hurts, & sometimes a gut-blasting yell is just what the doctor ordered, though may not be good on the vocal cords.
Maybe its the telling Him exactly what I feel & think – the hurt & disappointment, the sting of the poison, but there is always a point of relief, or at least His peace that comes alongside at that very moment. Its not like the pain goes away, but the edge & the bitterness are gone, as is the desire to never risk again.
And usually what happens is I get really thankful for my friends. And determine to be a good friend to them.