Thursday, April 9, 2009

Learn from my Mistakes

The Lord has been teaching me a lot lately. Specifically about discernment. As Voddie Bachaum quoted: A smart man learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others. I will humbly reveal my stupidities in the hope that you can learn from me.

I make snap judgments. It's a part of my personality. I make quick decisions. My fault is in my frequent inability to be swayed from my initial decisions. For instance, I meet a new acquaintance. A homeschooling mom. Her kids are well-behaved and she talks about the books she's been reading about biblical motherhood. I think: Oh wow! We're like-minded! Awesome.

And from that point on, I just assume she desires all the same things for her family that I desire for mine. And then, the next several times we meet, her preteen daughter is dressed inappropriately. And the mom is frequently complaining about her in-laws.

It takes me awhile before I begin to realize that this mom is not who I thought she was and is neither a good influence on my kids or me. In fact, I start to realize that I find myself complaining about my own in-laws when I'm around her. Hey, wait a minute! This is not an edifying friendship! Oh phooey. And then I wonder how I didn't see it before.

(All the while, Kyle is usually saying: I don't think they're the kind of people you think they are. And I'm telling him he just doesn't know them as well as I do. Ha! The irony!)

I am learning to be more discerning about the influences I allow into my life. Those friendships that don't lead me to God's Word and to prayer will almost certainly lead me farther away from Him.


krista said...

Sounds like just the kind of lady & kids JESUS would hang out with.
:) Krista

Ginger said...

He definitely would have preached the gospel to her, yes. I agree. And it's my job to share the good news with families like hers as well. But Jesus is God. He didn't need to worry about people bringing him down spiritually. ha!

"He who walks with the wise is wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Prov. 13:20

"Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character." 1 Cor. 15:33

Jamie said...

I understand what you mean. I have had friends that I had to distance myself from because they made me struggle in my walk, for whatever reason. Gossip, anger, money, etc.
That doesn't mean I wouldn't be there for them if they needed me, but I just didn't spend as much time with them. And stopped seeking them out.
Discernment doesn't come easy. But sounds like Kyle had it right. Listen to him:)

Ginger said...

Right, it was a two part lesson for me. 1) Be more discerning. (2) Listen to your husband.

Stacy said...

This was very timely in my life, and right in line with something I have been dealing/struggling with and praying about for a long time. Purging friendships that are not helping me grow in Christ – ouch!

Anonymous said...

So true. I appreciate your post.

a lurker

Lori in KY said...

So very true, Ginger. Something I've been thinking a lot about recently as well.

Krista said...

Learn from my mistakes...never argue with Ginger. LOL :)

You're always prepared and have a well thought out answer. You go girl! :)

Only I'm just wondering how many people we've walked away from because they bring us down spiritually, never knowing that the Lord put them in our path so that we might be their "sharpening iron," so that we might edify them, so that they might grown spiritually from our companionship?

I'm not saying you were wrong; it was your judgment call to make. I'm just saying love works better than rejection in many circumstances.

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. --John 13:34

(I can quote scripture too!) heehee :)

Jenni said...

Wow. This must be current for a lot of ladies. I have been having a lot of discussions lately with my husband about some friendships that seem to behave like this:

We are very sweet and friendly...when we need/want something from Jenni.

That has certainly NOT been making me feel led closer to the Lord, as you can imagine.

I wish for true fellowship that builds my walk with the Lord up, not that which tears me down.

Removing myself from this situation may prove difficult however, as it relates to Church.

Sherrie said...

Ginger, I thought all day yesterday about your post and some of the comments. I too have been struggling with this issue. Especially since I have an older adopted child that is very attracted to the world and anything that it represents. So I struggle with who to spend time with as not to help lead my child further astray and yet to be open to helping others. What I am discovering is that those more risky/harmful friendships I am trying to be a Titus 2 towards... those I meet with in a safe environment. Such as my house for a short time, everyone together in a supervised activity and my part is not to relax in friendship but to lead in truth. When I step out of those boundaries I too see harm coming to my family by bad peer influences. Great topic as this is a hard area to find balance in.

Ginger said...

Thank you for saying it so much better than I can, Sherrie.

Ginger's Man said...


Ginger never mentioned rejecting anyone. She's talking about acquaintances who won't become her new best friends. There are good friends who lift you up spiritually and who act as iron sharpening iron, and then there are acquaintances who you minister to and encourage in the Word but do not get super close to. (Like Sherrie mentioned.) Their unruly children will not be spending hours playing with mine while Ginger ministers to the mom. She is wise in her close friendships in order to protect our kids and herself from ungodly influence. But, again, she wasn't talking about close friendships. Her closest friendships are always women who are more mature and wiser than she. Those are the women who influence her.
I've got a wise wife. I respect her a great deal.


Stacy said...

Ok, got the cold groceries put away and I have a few minutes before I head out to one more store, so time to respond a little :)

This post is incredibly timely in my life. I too, have had to make some difficult decisions about which friendships to focus my time on. I do believe we are to minister to others, of course. We are called to discipleship, after all. But when I am actively ministering to someone who is trying to grow spiritually, it is incredibly important that I am rooted in the Word, and bound to other spiritual mentors, so that I bring her UP, not that she brings me DOWN.

In order to become a true disciple, I need to spend the majority of my time around those that are where I am spiritually or (more importantly) where I'm trying to be, or at least trying hard to get there. I need people to bring me back to the Word, and to Him when I am failing or struggling.

I don't need someone to join in with me when I'm making mistakes and encourage me to fall further away from God. I don't need someone to "one up" my struggle and turn the conversation into a gripe session, or a gossip session. It's so incredibly easy as a woman and a human, to be tempted by that, so I have to be on guard with how much time I spend with people that do that. A recovering alcoholic probably shouldn't choose to go minister in a bar, either unless he himself has grown to that place in his walk with Christ and has been called to do that. I also think we have to be careful who we do choose to confide in with our struggles. I know some friends would bring me nothing but negative feelings and thoughts, and I know other friends that would immediately ask me "Where are you in the Word?".

I do think we are to love one another. Absolutely. But I can love someone and pray for them without making them a *regular* example in my life, or in the life of my children. I'm not saying they are not ever in my life! We frequently serve others and care for others to help them, and to teach our daughter to love others as Christ loves us. But I also want my daughter to learn that because of our sinful nature, we easily become like the company we keep.

Ok, that was wordy and I kept getting interrupted, so I hope it makes sense. I'll be back later! :)

Bones said...

Wow. This hits me where I live! My question is once you have identified that you need to limit your contact, how do you go about doing that? Do you make a phone call and say you think you shouldn't hang out any more? Do you simply stop responding to communication?

My biggest obstacle to my alignment with my spiritual priorities is attracting complainers with a vast supply of time on their hands. I find this situation hardest when it pertains to family! HELP!

Lurker said...

I'm sure this is something y'all already know, but I think it's important to point out anyway for anyone else who may be reading this...

If the only issue was a friend complaining about her inlaws, that doesn't mean you need to end the friendship, obviously. There were obviously other issues here, the complaining was just one thing that made you realize that. If the only issue was her complaining, then you would probably point that out to her in a helpful manner, right? Like, "I realized the other day that I've been complaining a bit about my inlaws, could you stop me if you hear me doing it?" She may not have noticed she was doing it, or may not have thought about why it's wrong to do that.

But like I said, I realize there were other issues in this situation. I just don't want people to misunderstand and think, "Oh no, Ginger says I have to stop being friends with all these people!"

Ginger said...

Thank you, Lurker. Very helpful clarification. It's not necessarily that the in-laws were the only issue (although I've never had that be the case), but that the acquaintance wasn't teachable. When I discover that someone is defensive when brought to the Word, I know they aren't mature and therefore are someone I need to encourage, not someone who I can expect to encourage me biblically.

Ginger said...

Just to clarify: The post was not about one person. It was a composite of several people. Unfortunately, I've made this mistake more than once. :blush:

Graceful Threads said...

I think its natural for us to want fellowship, but its hard to find good Godly friends these days and even when you do they have problems. We have problems. Relationships are difficult.

I like what you said about needing to listen to your hubby. I think its funy that although women do often indeed have a keener sense in alot of areas, God has given our guys the ability to protect their families. Great post.

Ps I'll be your friend, my inlaws are dead and my daughter looks like she walked straight off the set of Little House On the Prarie. Ask your husband and get back to me.:-)