Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Prepared for the Meltdown

Leslie Basham: Karen Loritts says some of your closest friends will give you the greatest opportunities to show forgiveness.

Karen Loritts: Take this to the bank, your girlfriend, your best girlfriend will offend you at some point. But forgiveness immediately releases that person from holding against them.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Monday, July 30.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I know a couple of homeschooled young women who made rope in one of their classes. They took three strands of twine and interwove them to create a useful rope that could withstand far more pressure than any of those strands alone.

It’s an illustration of Ecclesiastes 4:12. "A cord of three strands is not easily broken." The biblical writer wasn’t trying to make a big point about how to make rope. He was talking about the power of relationship.

We’re about to hear a message from my good friend Karen Loritts. She has learned about the power of relationships that can strengthen us when life is threatening to unravel.

She delivered this message at the very first True Woman conference. It’s a taste of what we call a breakout session. It's a chance for those attending a True Woman Conference to attend a smaller gathering based on their needs and interests.

Now, I’ll mention one thing. You’ll hear Karen mention a “meltdown” she had when she was about to turn sixty. You can hear more about that experience when by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com and listening to another message by Karen, “A Resolve to Believe.” It's a great message, and I encourage you to listen.

Now let’s listen as Karen shows you why close relationships with our sisters in Christ are so important.

Karen: I've been living in Atlanta for the last thirty years, and I’ve gotten together with a group of women—there are fourteen of us—who call ourselves “The Stones.” We’re talking about where it says in the Old Testament that when the Children of Israel were crossing the Jordan River, they would leave memory stones in the middle of the Jordan so that those that would come would know that God had met them there.

We, as “The Stones,” wanted to leave the footprints of the goodness and the faithfulness of God to our children, especially our girls. So, we would meet and love on each other. Like I said, we went through potty training to some divorces to the incarceration of some children to the death of some of our children—all kinds of things for the last thirty years. These are “The Stones,” and they were my real girlfriends.

However, when I was going through my meltdown, I was just so consumed with myself and pride that I didn’t share with my girlfriends. That was in October when I was going through my thing, and then the second weekend in November was our retreat that we have every year. At this retreat, we go away, leave all the kids, all the rest of the stuff, and we’re sleeping two to a bed.

We are really cozy together, and we pray together and just share how the year’s been going, just catching up. We’re from various churches now. You know how girlfriends can do, just talking through the middle of the night—we’re talking, and we’re crazy. And then you have Vivian and Veronica who snore, and they sleep together, and the snorers all sleep together. We’d just laugh until our sides hurt—all kinds of crazy stuff—and then wake up in the morning and let somebody else cook the food for us, and just have a great day. We end our retreat on Sunday, visiting one of the other’s churches.

I knew that was coming in November, and there’s no way I was going to let them know about my meltdown because of my pride. My fear was they would think less of me, and not only that, they would look at me and say, “Well, how can we trust Karen if she can’t trust us with the intimate details of what she’s going through?” I went through the retreat and didn’t mention it at all. I was good at what I was doing. I just showed up and said, “Yes, girl,” just all kinds of stuff, and they never knew that inside I was aching.

I realized that I really wasn’t a true friend, because good true friends will be able to entrust good stuff to the people who have walked with you through thick and thin. It was one-sided, and I was spanked. I was told off royally when they found out in January. It had leaked out that I was on safe shore, that I had walked through this thing and got my stuff together with God that I’m going to now share. Boy, were they mad at me.

I thought they would have been saying, “Boy, I’m glad you didn’t spill all your guts,” but they didn’t say that. So, I came away just realizing that friendship takes on a different meaning when you’re going through the seasons of life. I don’t care where you are in the seasons of life—as a woman, we will go through various seasons of life. Each season requires another bolt of bravery and courage.

As I was coming through this season of life, I was asking God, “If I had to paint a picture of friendship, what would it look like?” And really what He showed me by my friends “The Stones” are at least three or four things that have marked our friendship throughout the years and also was an indictment on my failure to entrust myself to them.

The portrait of friendship, in my estimation, involves three different things: commitment, communication/courage, and community.

I’m going to give you some Scriptures to import in each one of these points. I’m just going to use something real simple, by looking in the New Testament at all of those phrases that begin or end or have a part that says one another, like “bear one another’s burdens,” “serve one another”—all those “one anothers.” I’m going to give you the reference, and I’m going to read it as we come to every point.

By way of commitment, what am I saying? When you’re making friends, it requires a level of commitment at various seasons of life. If you’re single, you’re making friends, and you’re looking at your singleness and what you can contribute, because you maybe have a lot more time than if you’re married with young children. Every season requires a different level of commitment. But the phrase I want to use as we’re talking about commitment is it takes a lot of time to establish the relationship. Commitment means that you establish the relationship.

How do you establish the relationship? “Lord, I want to have this group of women, these friends. I want to make a commitment to them, I want to establish this relationship. How do I do that?” There are several verses in James 3. Let me just give you those two words that will help you as you’re trying to find out who you want to be committed to as you establish a relationship as it relates to having girlfriends.

Verses 13–16 of James 3 say, “Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.”

Verses 17–18 go on, “But the wisdom from above”—this is key—“is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering and without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Two ideas that stick out in this reference, when it’s talking about the wisdom from above, are that we have to have wisdom to know who God wants us to select as our friends and we have to have spiritual discernment to know who they are. God says you have to have wisdom, which is from above, and have His discernment. That’s the application of God-laid knowledge, and discernment is having that spiritual insight to know. Take a little time to know how to make friends. It’s all about grace.

When I’m looking at commitment, there are several things I want, as I’m establishing a relationship with a young person or persons, a lady whom I want to be my friend. Several things are required of me.

Romans 12:10 says, “Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor.” There is the commitment of devotion. There must be a commitment that I’m willing to be devoted to this person with whom I believe God is calling me to establish a relationship. We’re talking about a long-term relationship. We’re not talking about acquaintances; we’re not talking about friends with the little “f”; we’re talking about girlfriends. Understand the difference?

Romans 12:10 says it requires devotion, and that requires time. Girl, we take time.

Another thing about commitment, 1 John 4:7 says, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.” Commitment requires love. 

 And let me just give you a challenge—in 1 Corinthians 13, (we know all about that love chapter) take the test, and put in those verses your name or your girlfriend’s name, and see if you are willing to do that, is she willing to make a commitment to do that? For instance, in 1 Corinthians 13:4, it says, “Love is patient; love is kind.” I would say, “Karen is patient; Karen is kind,” or put in one of my friends and answer the question: “Is Vivian patient? Is Vivian kind?” If she meets the test, then we are candidates for a girlfriend relationship. Does that sound too hard? It requires a level of love and commitment.

The third level of commitment as we establish this relationship is kindness. Ephesians 4:32 says commitment requires that as girlfriends we “be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” I don’t know how many times we as “The Stones” over thirty years have had falling outs and coming back, falling outs and coming back. The reason why we would come back together is that a real girlfriend can have a falling out, agree to disagree agreeably, but we loved each other. We had made a commitment.

Now I’m not saying that there aren’t some women who will come into your life for a season. God has them there for a season, and then God brings other women into your season. But there are some long-term friends that you can pick up the phone, who you haven’t seen them physically for a long time, and you can have a conversation that you talked about a year or two years previously, and it’s like old times. That’s a girlfriend.

Kindness—be kind to one another, forgiving each other—having that forgiveness, forgiveness and reconciliation. I can forgive a couple of my girlfriends who may have come and said, “Karen, you offended me,” or they nail me on something that I was out of sorts about or I just ran my mouth too much, or they thought that I was gossiping, or they caught me at something. They can come and nail me, because I’ve given them permission as my girlfriend to nail me on that, and then I can say, “Will you forgive me?”

Then we need to be reconciled, because sometimes, we women, we don’t forget. Somebody says something to you and hurts your feelings—we have this little video thing in the back of our brains that we always say, “She hurt my feelings, so I don’t know if I want her to be my friend anymore.” The only thing she was doing was speaking in love, so reconciliation says, “Okay, Bernice, you hurt my feelings, but I know that you came to me in a spirit of love, and you wanted to help me because I’m your girlfriend, and we need to work it out, take that wall of reconciliation, and the two of us come together to be united.”

The fourth thing of commitment, as we establish a relationship, is the word consider. Hebrews 10:24 says, “Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” We need to be able to stimulate each other, not stay wallowing. 

 What fun is it if all “The Stones” got together every retreat, and we came out looking like old hags because we had been dredged by your problems, your five boys, your mammogram, and all this stuff? We’re crying, but can we cry together and then build each other up and help each other to really trust and believe God?

That’s what I want people to be able to spend some time with in my life. I don’t want people to drag me down, but sometimes some of us have got to have courage enough to take off some of these barnacles that we call our friends. Some of them are dragging us down. Some of them never have anything good to say about your husband. They don’t have to like your husband, but they must respect that he is your husband.

Every time you see them, they always have something bad to say about your kids or have some kind of a “God showed me about how to raise your children” comment—it weighs you down. Some of us need to get some of those barnacles off of our lives. We’ve outgrown some people. Again, you have to have wisdom and discernment. Am I growing? Am I really stimulating my girlfriends to greater good, love, and good deeds?

So, that’s commitment. Commitment says I have the wisdom of God and have the spiritual insight to know who will be there at the finish line with me. This Christian race is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. And I don’t want someone who gives up on me way back in the pack. I want a girlfriend who’s going to be there when I may have to have that hysterectomy or when I have a prodigal child, and the only person who will listen to me and pray for me without condemning me and pointing her finger at me is my girlfriend.

We need to have a spirit of commitment, and a word I would put surrounding this whole idea of commitment is it’s all about grace.

The portrait of friendship involves commitment, making and then being a friend.

The second area of making friends, a portrait of friendship, is communication/courage. Let me deal with communication.

As commitment involves establishing the relationship, communication means strengthening the relationship. This is what I call the point where it takes a lot of energy, because we like to talk. Sometimes we talk to our friends, but we’re not talking with our friends, or sometimes our friends are talking at us, and they’re not helping us. Communication needs to strengthen the relationship.

Let me read 1 Peter 3:8–12 and see if that makes sense to you. Peter writes, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For the one who desires life, to love and see good days, must keep her”—I’m going to use her—“tongue from evil and her lips from speaking deceit. She must turn away from evil and do good; she must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, and His ears attend to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”

Our communication must be seasoned with a blessing. Remember we said earlier that the whole idea of friendship is that we want to stimulate each other to love and good deeds. We want them to be better because they’re in our presence and part of our circle of friends and being with us. God says that we must be a blessing, according to 1 Peter 3.

Turn to Psalm 34, verses 13–14. This says, again, “Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.”

In relationships with women, sometimes we can have an argument and it can go on forever and ever and ever, and it never becomes resolved. I have lost a lot of friends because of misunderstandings, or—this gets me—when they say something about my children. I don’t know what it is about mothers and their children, but when you say something about my children, it may be true, but I don’t hear the truth in it. Because when you’re talking about my children, you’re talking about me, and I don’t like you talking about me.

Communication takes a lot of work. We have long memories. We remember, and when she’s talking about my children, I remember her son in the nursery. I remember her son in Vacation Bible School, so I’m ready with my shotgun. I’m ready to blow her away. “She’s going to talk about my children? I can talk about her children.” We’ve got tit for tat. So, next thing you know, instead of saying anything, I just don’t call her anymore. I see her in church, and I just walk the other way. Do you ever do that? None of you all ever do that. But we do that. We hurt each other.

But we must, in communication, exercise two things—we’ve talked about this a little bit, but I want to bring it home again. We must exercise forgiveness, and forgiveness is to be able to release that person when that person has offended you. You can take this to the bank—your best girlfriend will offend you at some point. She may say something, or it may be that time of the month when you’re not feeling what she has to say. She may offend you. But forgiveness immediately releases that person from holding it against them. The other part of that is reconciliation. Reconciliation is that, if she’s a true friend, but it’s a godly thing to be involved in rebuilding the relationship.

Forgiveness takes me initiating—“I forgive you, and I accept your forgiveness, or I ask you to forgive me.” It takes one person. But reconciliation takes two people who believe that God has called us together, we’ve made a commitment to be together as friends, and that we need to rebuild. Because that Plexiglas keeps building up and up and up, and before you know it, we don’t know the reason why we haven’t spoken. We’re talking about girlfriends, but unfortunately, this also happens in families.

I have no biological sisters. I have plenty of friends who have sisters, and they would fight like cats and dogs. They are families. Among the 6,000, there may be one or two families who haven’t spoken to each other in years. That should never be, and for sure it should never be in our relationships with one another in the Body of Christ. We must, with all that is possible with us as it says, be at peace with one another. Peace must be on my side of the street.

Now there are some people, as I said, that God brings for a season, then He just moves them on. But there should never be a relationship that you don’t have now that God says that was a season and there was some sin that separated you, and you haven’t resolved it. Some of us need to resolve some relationships that started off great, had some kind of conflict, and then were never resolved. Sisters against sisters. Mothers against daughters. Friends against friends.

We have this kind of thing within us. I call it the Eve Syndrome. There’s something that happened in the garden that fell and made that chromosome screwed up or whatever it was, because we can be nasty to one another.

Psalm 39:1 says, “I said I will guard my ways that I may not sin with my tongue. I will guard my mouth as with a muzzle while the wicked are in my presence.” Sometimes you just have to literally put your hand over your mouth and not say it. So many times with my Stone friends, I was just waiting, because I was so defensive about certain things. They’d be talking to me, and in the back of my mind I was getting my ammunition ready. I was going to shoot that gun, and this Scripture came to mind. “Muzzle your mouth”—don’t say it.

Nancy: That's a Scripture that I know I need a lot of the time. It’s so easy for me to sin with my tongue. Karen Loritts has been showing us all how to control our words to foster true community. 

Karen first presented that message at True Woman '08 in a breakout session. When you come to a True Woman conference, you hear several plenary sessions with all the women who have gathered. 

Then you can attend breakout sessions based on your specific needs and interests.
Our speakers are developing those breakout sessions right now for True Woman '12: Seeking Him Together for Spiritual Awakening. One of those workshop leaders will be my friend Elyse Fitzpatrick. She’s an author and biblical counselor, and I know she has important things to share with the women in her breakout session.

We’re thrilled at how many women are making plans to join us for True Woman '12. There’s so much interest that we are anticipating that the conference will sell out early. So if you’ve thought about coming, don’t delay in making your plans to join us September 20-22 in Indianapolis.

Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to get all the details, and reserve your spot at True Woman '12!

Leslie: Tomorrow, we’ll hear part two from Karen Loritts, giving us a portrait of true friendship, as she talks about the value of community. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.