What is your biggest regret?
It’s one of those questions where your stomach drops out, and your brain thinks, things are about to get real. The question was raised in my small group, and I knew the answer immediately. I should have been a better friend to Jodi. We had been roommates, and she had been the maid-of-honor in my wedding. One girl’s night out, I’d been responsible for holding her car keys, and they’d somehow fallen out of my pocket. After a frustrating hour of searching, we found them in the ladies’ room, but in the process of looking, I overheard her call me stupid.
Admittedly, there are worse things to be called, but I was hurt. Instead of talking to her and trying to work things out, I acted badly and gave her the cold shoulder. My nonconfrontational way of dealing with the issue strained our relationship. We started to bicker and eventually parted ways never to speak again. Because I wasn’t willing to overlook something trivial, I ruined our friendship which I now realize was the greater of the two sins. Why didn’t I say something? Why did I let a minor issue destroy a great friendship?
Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.– Proverbs 17:9
There’s an old Aesop’s Fable about Four Oxen and a Lion that goes something like this: A lion used to prowl about a field where four oxen lounged. He tried to attack them many times looking for a savory meal, but whenever he came near, they turned their tails to one another. Whichever way the lion approached them he was met by a pair of horns. The lion stalked off to wait. Eventually, the oxen began to argue. Each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. The Lion seized his opportunity, attacking them one by one and soon made an end of all four.
Okay, so this isn’t a happily-ever-after story, but there is a lot of meat to this tale. (Sorry I couldn’t resist the bad pun.) Bickering among friends can be deadly. It might not be a lion-gnaws-on-your-bones type of deadly, but it inevitably kills the friendship.
Friends protect each other’s backs. When we’re turned against each other, nitpicking and bickering, then our backs are exposed, making us easy prey for the devil. His main tactic is to divide and conquer so he can pick us off one by one. 1 Peter 5:8 says, “Your enemy, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
Don’t become divided. Set your hurts aside, and talk things out. Don’t let bickering and bitterness destroy relationships. Don’t be like me and live with the regret of losing a good friend. Be aware of the devil’s tactics and don’t let foolishness or pride keep us from forgiving one another or extending grace. We are stronger together.
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. – Ecclesiastes 4:12.
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