Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Behind the Scenes – A Bench Gone Cold

photo by Rebekah Ellis

 One of the most difficult things to discover is that not everyone you think of as a close friend is going to walk through the desert with you. I wrote yesterday about the kind of people to be wary of as you share the difficulties that arise in your trials. It’s the hardest thing to discover that one of your friends with whom you thought you shared a “move-the-body” relationship with might actually be someone who could bring more pain.

In one of my writing circles, we’ve talked about benches as analogies for relationships. The idea that benches are places to sit and talk, that they are relationship builders, that they are a place to welcome one and all. And when you find someone to sit on the bench with you, you have found something good.

When I crashed head-first into the desert, I had a small core of bench-sitting friends – a tight knit circle that I laughed, cried, and shared everything with. These were my morning, noon, and night people. The ones whose families I celebrated holidays with, who I went to church and served with, and who I laughed, sang, and read with.

A few months into my desert experience, we had an unfortunate series of events brought on by the fact that we are all human, we all make mistakes, and we all fall down. But the chain reaction of miscommunication and misguided attempts at understanding and reconciliation only created a larger rift, and before I knew it, our friendship had been torn apart and I was on the outside looking in. My bench had grown cold; frozen over in the winter of discontent.

I have always struggled with relationships with woman – and have sometimes been surprised at how many women I know say the same thing. We women, who have such a capacity for compassion, kindness, and empathy, can also be cold, cutting, and exclusive. If we’re not careful, our indifference towards each other – even if unintentional – can leave rifts that are miles wide.

That’s what I found in the midst of an already trying situation: a rift, a tear, a separation that left me alone and without connection; without the anchor of my bench people. I withdrew for months, afraid to let myself even speak the pain out loud. When I finally characterized it, this is what I said:
in the end

there is a loss that pulls at the heart –
an echoing of memories not made;
commonalities never to be discovered;
paths that will no longer be crossed.

it is a slow death –
the final breath of a candle's flame:
shimmering in a moment from light to dark,
till nothing remains but ash and smoke.

the lingering is the worst.
an empty pain of the might-have-been;
hands pressed against glass
looking within – ever without.

ties that bind are severed by
ragged edges of promises not kept.
in the end, only
vestiges of brilliance within the darkening shadows

I was surprised how many people this resonated with when I shared it. I didn’t say what I was writing about, I simply put it out there. Whether losing a parent, suffering from a miscarriage, or going through a difficult divorce, people found a connection in my pain.

It carried on. I felt this with me physically for months on end – a tender raw spot that would not heal. One of the hardest parts was the not knowing. What led here had been misunderstanding. And it had not been resolved. One day, I felt brave enough to confront it. After writing draft after draft of a letter – seeking the right tone and praying desperately that it would be received with the good intentions in my heart – I sent an email to the women who had been my bench mates. I dared to hope.

God’s grace went before me, and two of the relationships were restored. It took some time and some extensive conversations, but we have come back into a place of real friendship and support, and I believe we are stronger for it. Our lives have moved on, and though we don’t travel in the same immediate circles that we used to, there is a new constancy between us that I cherish; a knowledge that we have been through the fire together.

One relationship has not been restored, and I struggle with this on a regular basis. There are choices we make in our friendships – as mentioned in yesterday’s post – and sometimes the choice to protect your heart has to come first. It doesn’t mean you love someone less or that you’ve stopped caring for them. You just have to love them differently – perhaps from afar for the time being. I still pray and have hope for restoration.

When I consider these things, I think about the Lord’s desire, His hope, His longing for restored relationships of all kind.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. 
Is anything too hard for me?
Jeremiah 32:27 ESV

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, 
forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. 
Ephesians 4:32, ESV

So be merciful (sympathetic, tender, responsive, and compassionate) 
even as your Father is all these. 
Luke 6:36 AMP

Nothing is beyond the reach of His miracles, His compassion, and His mercy. Do you have relationships that need to be restored? Have you lost a bench companion in your desert? If you lay these prayers of restoration from your heart before the Lord, He will not leave them unredeemed.

This post today is dedicated with thanks and love to the two women who came through the fire with me in the desert time. I am so very grateful to have you both in my life and so blessed that we have been restored to one another. Thank you for allowing me to share this difficult time – I hope that our experience will encourage others who are walking a hard-worn path. Your friendships are an integral part of my life, and though I don’t see you as often as I used to in person, you are always in my heart.

crystalstine.meI'm linking up with Crystal Stine and company today; joining the Behind the Scenes link up. A place to make a connection beyond the Pinterest perfect ideals; to look past the edges of the photo to the real life behind it.

I'd love to connect with you some more - stop on by the Three Bees Facebook Page or connect with me on Twitter @3BeesBlueBonnet. During the 31 Days Challenge, I'll be using the hashtags #desertjourney and #inspirationalandfaith80 if you'd like to join in or follow along. Let's continue the conversation!


  1. This is a beautiful post, Rebekah. Relationships can be difficult and when someone you love leaves your bench, it hurts tremendously. I've been there. And, I've also seen the beautiful handiwork of God has He restores us.
    I love your honesty in this post. God bless you!

    1. Thank you Jennifer. I am so very grateful for the restoration. And I appreciate your encouragement!

  2. Girl - I get this... I am so happy to hear of reconciliation... of working out the hard parts - but also of knowing or surrendering to the timing to let go as well! Love you so!

    1. Yes and amen - it was a long time coming - but so welcome to have it. God's grace covered so much.

  3. I can certainly relate to this. Thanks for sharing. (Visiting from Behind the Scenes ...)

    1. Thanks for coming by Kristin - I'm so glad you found something to connect to! That's a hope and prayer I have for what I'm writing here.

  4. Rebekah -
    This is just a beautiful post. Your description of us women is so true - we can be so compassionate & yet so cutting. Bless you for writing with such transparency & giving us all something to truly think carefully about. I am visiting from Behind the Scenes & am glad that I stopped by!

    1. Joanne, thanks so much for stopping by. I love the Behind the Scenes link up and the friends who write there. I appreciate your words of encouragement and wish you a very blessed week.

  5. This resonated with me in a way that I'm going to be processing for awhile. But, yes...you speak such wisdom and truth, and I'm so thankful for your heart, dear friend. Thank you for being so vulnerable and willing to talk about the hard things. Love to you!

    1. Mel - I always love to see your smile here! So glad this connected with you - I'm hoping in a good way. I appreciate your encouragement.

  6. I love the bench analogy for relationships. This was a very powerful and moving post.

    David o)

    1. It's a good one, isn't it? When I read it the first time, I thought it was just so spot on. I hope you're having a good week at the conference. We miss your presence here at work. See you soon!

  7. What a lovely story of reconciliation, Rebekah! Your poem just goes straight to the heart - no wonder so many people related to it. I'm glad you were able to restore two of the friendships broken by circumstances!

    1. Kim - thank you so much. It's always a risk to put things out there. Especially the poetry - it's just a little closer to my heart and more subjective. These lessons have been such good reminders - this one especially - friends restored!

  8. Oh I can relate. Thank you! Love you.

    1. Jenn - you're always so faithful and so encouraging. Love you back!

  9. I am thankful you wrote this, friend... I can so relate. This almost brought me to tears - you put words to something I didn't quite know how to explain myself. "Sometimes the choice to protect your heart has to come first. It doesn’t mean you love someone less or that you’ve stopped caring for them. You just have to love them differently – perhaps from afar for the time being. I still pray and have hope for restoration."

    1. I remember you speaking about your struggles this past summer with a reconciliation of your own. I don't know where that went, but I hope that this will bring you hope and encouragement. His grace is without end and His miracles still happen. Love you ladybug girl!


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