Being ghosted. It’s not a term I was familiar with but the moment I read about what it was, I realized that’s exactly what had happened to me. I didn’t have a name for it, but I carried a lot of pain from it. Being ghosted has haunted me.
Sadly, I realized it’s hurting a lot of people even within the church body.
What Does It Mean to Be Ghosted?
Ghosting someone happens when one person in a relationship (be it platonic or romantic) decides to end all forms of communication with the other person.
In my case, a person I considered a very dear friend vanished. Like, literally vanished. One minute we had planned a play date for the following week, the next minute there was nothing. We literally went from communicating all the time to absolutely no response to any type of reaching out.
Yes, we did have an issue arise, but what relationship doesn’t?
It was never something I thought couldn’t have been talked through and worked out. But that was the issue, it’s impossible to discuss anything when all lines of communication are suddenly dead.
What broke my heart the most was that this was someone I trusted. This was a fellow sister in Christ.
I believed her to be a true friend and then “poof” it was like our friendship had never existed. And of course my heart hurt for my children as well, because all of a sudden their close friends had vanished too. They begged to see their friends again. But how does a mother explain that she has no clue when they will get to see their friends because the person she thought was her friend won’t return a text, a call, a message, or anything?
Years removed from when it happened, it’s hard to believe that it actually did. It’s difficult to conceive that a friendship so close could vanish into thin air. At the time it hurt like the dickens. I remember breaking down in the middle of a Bible study one night not wanting to share what was going on but unable to control the tears.
Wise women gathered around me and one asked if a friendship was hurting. I couldn’t even answer initially. Then quietly with these two women, I remember sharing through sobs how I went from having a friend to stone cold silence, how it was affecting my children, and that I wanted to make things better but didn’t know how.
With empathy and love, one of the women asked,
“Would you want your children going through the same hurt you are feeling right now?”
Of course, not!
“Then maybe it’s the best thing because the children will learn from the mother how to treat others.”
Such wisdom took root but it didn’t start to grow until almost a year later. Up until that time, I was grieving the lose of a close friend, one who had not died but was haunting me with her silence, and praying that somehow we could at least talk through things. That never happened.
The Affect of Being Ghosted
The ghosting haunted me and kept me from allowing others in. Because of what happened, I unintentionally guarded my heart from forming deep relationships for a couple of years. Those who had been with me up to that point, I held onto, but others I didn’t initially let in until I realized what was happening.
Through prayer and God’s help, I’ve been able to grow deeper relationships again. God has truly blessed me with some amazing women, who have literally been with me through my highs and lows and whom I’ve been able to encourage and cheer on through their highs and lows.
That is what true friendship is! I’m not sure who to attribute this quote to, but I find it very true:
If you want to find out who’s a true friend, screw up or go through a challenging time, then see who sticks around.
At the Heart of Ghosting
It is only possible to overcome a conflict when we are willing to take down our guard, engage each other in conversation, and listen. It’s impossible to reconcile or fix a situation when we are trying our hardest to avoid it.
Avoidance is at the heart of ghosting. Some think it is easier to quickly say they “forgive” what is bothering them but if the issue is never addressed then the situation can become more frustrating and painful before the other person even realizes what all is going on.
Honestly, the hardest part of being ghosted is being haunted by what happened. Why did such a good friendship have to dissipate into thin air? Why could we not just sit and talk things through? We are both Christians and yet somehow it was “easier” to cut off all communication than choose what might have been uncomfortable and talk to each other.
I believe anything can be worked through. God did a miraculous thing when he redeemed us through Jesus Christ. If God can do that I truly believe with him any relationship can be redeemed.
Why Speak About Ghosting Now?
Several years removed from being ghosted, I can finally speak to this situation without physically hurting. I don’t believe the person who did this is a mean individual or even intended for this to happen. I just don’t think she wanted to deal with any type of conflict.
I’m speaking up about this now because it has become too common in our culture and it’s invading the church. We as followers of Christ should be setting a pattern of how to navigate conflict and difficult circumstances. We will not be perfect at it because none of us are perfect. I know I am not, but we should try.
To Ghost or Not to Ghost
There is a prevalent idea in our culture now that if someone is weighing you down, draining you, not making you happy, or happened to hurt you somehow, or your just done with them, then they are nixed from your life. (I am not speaking of abuse. That is a totally different subject.)
In any relationship there should be boundaries, but we should also expect true relationships to look messy sometimes, if we are really being open and honest with each other. There will be times that conflicts arise, but this idea of dumping people who we have a conflict with goes against what the Bible says. It goes against how Jesus handle his friends who hurt him.
Jesus reaches out to those who are in absolute need and cannot encourage or lift him up at all.
Jesus reminds those who will turn their backs on him to come back and know they are still loved.
Jesus gave forgiveness to everyone. He calls us to do the same.
Jesus reiterates the importance of forgiving and the “limit” on how often we should forgive.
Jesus calls us to resolve any issues that we may have with someone.
Jesus knowing that relationships will face challenges, gives us a road map of how to navigate conflict in Matthew 18.
How can we as a church body teach the world how to resolve conflicts, if we are unwilling to try and resolve issues that come up between our brothers and sisters in Christ?
Prayer Over Our Hearts
Lord, you know more than any other how difficult it can be to deal with people sometimes. With so many different personalities and misunderstandings, the devil loves to create issues where there are none or fan the flame on an issue that could easily be extinguished. He loves to make us think the worst in each other instead of giving the benefit of the doubt. He loves to have us focus on our hurt instead of extending grace and talking to each other to hear the heart of the matter.
Lord, help us not to allow Satan to sneak in and destroy the good you are doing. Help us to individually examine our hearts and if we are hurt to reach out to the one who hurt us. If we are the one that hurt someone else, help us to see it and be willing to acknowledge our part in the problem.
None of us are perfect that is why we need you so much! Help us to extend the same grace you have given to us to others.
In the One who while being crucified asked you to “forgive them because they know not what they do.” – Amen
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