Hard Love

bansky-elephantIf you suspect a friend is involved in something that is harming them and stealing them away, what do you say that won’t make them feel threatened or upset?

People ask me this sometimes when they’re worried about loved ones.

They’ve lost or gained lots of weight. You’ve spotted empty wrappers, personality changes, an obsession with exercise.

Or maybe it’s not food.  Maybe it’s booze.  A bad relationship. Or something else.

‘Have you got an eating disorder?’
‘Are you drinking again?’
‘Is there something happening that you want to tell me?’

These are scary questions.  Big questions.  Questions we’d cross continents to avoid. So how do you ask them without causing offence and maybe even risking your friendship?

Answer: you can’t.

If you love someone, then you say the hard thing. And sometimes, there’s no way of making the hard thing soft.

I received an email today from someone who’s staring down the barrel of just such a conversation.  She writes this:

‘I know that at least for the moment she’s going to really hate me for whatever I do, I’m prepared for that and willing to take it. I have known her for too long and love her too much to do nothing.’

This – the hard thing – is friendship.

Not keeping the peace.
Not pretending it will all go away.
Not ignoring it or settling for excuses neither of you believe.
Not threatening and then withdrawing.
Not pleading and then retreating.

Saying: ‘I can see what’s happening.   I love you too much to pretend that it’s all ok. I’m committed to you: and that means I’m willing to challenge the behaviours that you think are you, but are taking you away.

Even if it costs us this friendship.  Even if you’re angry and hate me and cut me off. I love you and I’ll help you get help.  But I won’t watch you kill yourself without saying anything.’

4 thoughts on “Hard Love

  1. You know, I’d really second this, actually. There is someone in my life who will always challenge me, and yet it is with SUCH love, it almost renders me speechless, as she raises me up with her loving kindness, and Always wants more for me, whilst still accepting me and loving me just the way I am.

    She is a very precious voice of love in my life, and it is just like God- she won’t reject me if I bring things on myself, and yet she knows and trusts there is so much more for me.

    For all you speakers of truth in love. I honour and cherish your courage and tender willingness to make the stands that are the Last thing we want to hear… all the while I just really long to affirm to you that love that does not turn when the dark days get darker, is quite possibly one of the strongest and most powerful there is. I hold your hand and your heart go prayer as you, together call the storms into the living room, the coffee shop, or wherever you may be. May the Father’s love guide your hearts and may you hear the Spirit’s gentle whisper as to what to say and how…

    …and may God give you the grace andthe wisdom to stick around. For He walks not only alongside us, but also before us, and strange as it may seem, yet Powerful – He Knows.

    God, honour, and please delight in all these precious, dear hearts- both be-elephant-ed, and de-elephant-ers. May you both know you are loved, and of greater value than you could ever fully imagine. :-)xxx

  2. Check out “Something Beautiful”, Natalie Grant (on youtube I think) for a
    little smile ;-) xx

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