17. Dealing With Elder Brothers
One of the greatest difficulties for those who fall, is the fact that some of their closest friends disappear completely from their lives. Every day, I deal with people who have fallen, and one of their greatest heartbreaks are those people who I refer to as “prodigal friends.”
For many years, I preached with a man who I considered to be my close friend. We preached together in conferences across America and I made him a part of my conferences. He and I worked on many projects together. After I fell, I never heard from him again. To this day I have never received a call, a note, a letter, or even a secondhand inquiry from that particular preacher. I grieve that he never once communicated with me. I love that man and I thought that we were friends. My heart broke and I still feel a deep sense of loss.
There are several reasons why I believe this happens. I do not share this to judge those who have abandoned a fallen friend. I do so for two reasons; first, to help to those who have been abandoned after a fall to understand the possible reasons why people would abandon them. Secondly, and most importantly, I do so in hopes that those who have a fallen friend will think twice before abandoning and forsaking them after a fall. Here are some of the reasons for prodigal friends.
1. They were not truly spiritual in the first place. Don’t be so surprised. Not everyone who does spiritual things has a spiritual heart. If they were spiritual, they would restore. Seems pretty clear to me.
2. Perhaps, they no longer have any use for us. I understand that when you are on top, everyone is your friend. I also understand that when you’re on the bottom there are a lot fewer people who want to associate with you. That’s just a part of how people operate.
3. Perhaps they assumed the worst. When you fall, some people assume that you’re no good. They consider only the bad that they have heard and forget the good they saw with their own eyes. It’s sad, but it’s true. People easily forget the good a person does when they see a terrible fall.
4. Perhaps, their grief was greater than their ability to deal with you. Sometimes people are hurting after they see a friend fall, and they are unable to find the strength to assist them. My dad called it, “the jilted lover syndrome.” They are so angry that they are paralyzed from helping.
5. Perhaps, they just wanted to keep moving forward and not be slowed down by our issues. Many of my preacher friends kept moving forward and left me on the side of the road. As much as it hurts, I am am happy they continued to serve the Lord. Though it hurt me, that they did not wait and help me, I respect the fact that they kept on going for God. I cannot judge them too harshly because they kept on doing what I couldn’t.
6. Perhaps, they didn’t know what to do. I am convinced that this is the biggest reason friends disappear when someone falls. Rather than doing what they can to restore a fallen friend, they do nothing, because they don’t know how to restore. I have no doubt, that most people do not know what to do to restore a fallen brother or sister. It is a lost virtue among most Christians.
7. Perhaps, they want to distance themselves from us. I have no doubt that that is what some of my friends did. They did not want any of the residue of my fall to land on them. They wanted to stay as far away as they possibly could and so they did. Association causes them to be scrutinized and most people want to avoid such controversy.
8. Perhaps, they chose sides. Many people who abandoned me did so because they felt they had to choose sides. They only listened to the story of those who were against me. There is always more sides to every story. Be careful about abandoning a friend because you may not know everything about what really happened. This is especially true when there is a divorce associated with the fall.
9. Perhaps, they really don’t believe in restoration. Bottomline, I think this is the biggest reason. We talk a good talk, but reality proves that most Christians don’t believe in restoration. I would say that probably less than 5% of Christians practice restoration. The other 95% pay lip service to it. They love to see a person who has been restored, but they don’t want to get their hands dirty themselves.
Now, I do not want my fallen friends to use this against their prodigal friends. Truth be known, I have compassion for them. I’m saddened that they did not do what was right, so they could enjoy seeing the grace of God work in my life. I do not begrudge their decision. I am sorry they missed a chance to be obedient. Yes it hurt, but the ONE I need most has never abandoned me and never will. My Lord has never left me nor forsaken me. He has been by my side every second. Perhaps some of those prodigal friends would have distracted me from leaning on the Lord. Perhaps, I would have leaned on them instead. I can say that God’s grace has been sufficient to meet my every need.
If you have fallen and have prodigal friends, do not get bitter or angry. That friend does not speak for your heavenly father; nor does that friend determine whether or not you can get back up and serve God again. Remember, that one day there will be reconciliation in Heaven and those prodigal friends will come back.