I never knew I had a big red bullseye on my back.  If I’d known, I might have done a few things different.  Or at least ducked.  But I didn’t know.

So when I got slammed by the darts I was stunned silly and knocked flat on my face.  I didn’t have a clue what hit me.

It took me a while to figure it out — in fact, I still don’t have it all figured out, but I know a bit more today than I did the day my face hit the floor.

I hesitated sharing this story with y’all, but it’s a part of my story.   I wish someone had told me to ‘PAY ATTENTION!’  Not saying I would’ve listened, but maybe I would have been a bit more aware.

We were six friends.  Nothing really special about us.  Just six women loving Jesus and having a blast studying God’s Word.  We’d met in Bible study and started out as cordial acquaintances — you know they ‘hey, how are you?’ type of people.

We were and are all very different and fairly average — nothing really spectacular about us.  We bonded over our love for God’s Word.  We couldn’t wait to get together every Tuesday to talk about what Jesus was up to in our lives.  We opened the Bible together and just dove head first into the Word — we were hungry to know more.

We moved from acquaintances to friends and the bond between us was special — no jealousy, no competing, just six women loving the Word and each other.   Christ was our glue and the one thing we had it common.  We laughed, cried and shared our lives every Tuesday morning.  It wasn’t long before Tuesday mornings begin to  stretch  into Tuesday afternoon and soon we were meeting for lunches.  And then we were heading off on weekend getaways.

Looking back, it’s almost magical… but I know it was Jesus that created the sense of magic.  When I think back to those days, I only remember laughter and joy.   I even remember saying the words ” the enemy must hate us — six women who love God’s Word.”    I didn’t know how right I was.

There was always an agreement we were an open group — nothing closed or clique-ish about us.  We held to that when a new couple came to serve in our church.  We grabbed her up and brought her alongside us. She jumped in with both feet.  And I knew I wanted to be her friend — and not just any friend, I wanted to be her best friend.  I made it my business to make that happen. I reached out to her and before long we were talking on the phone.  Then she came to work in my office.  The friendship grew.

The first time she mentioned something about one of the Bible study girls, I let it pass. She’s probably just having a bad day. 

Then there was the report of some unkind actions from one of the girls.  I suggested we approach her, but new girl was adamant that I NOT do that.  I didn’t.

Then came the half-truths.  (Which are WHOLE lies)

The manipulation was insidious.  It was dangerous, heartbreaking and friendship damaging.  But I knew something wasn’t right and I did nothing about it.

When one of my long time bible study girls shared her concerns with me, I laughed at her.  I knew she spoke truth, but I didn’t want to hear any of it.

And then the ‘us or them’ started.    Stories of attacks on her family.  Stories about people I’d known and trusted for years.   Unbelievable stories about letters and emails  filled with venom and hatred.  I asked to see them.  I never did. She asked me to make a choice — stand with her or stand against her.  I didn’t want to choose.

The warning signs were there.   The red flags were there but I wouldn’t look.   I WANTED it to be okay.  I WANTED to be her friend.  I WANTED it to be okay.  But it wasn’t.

Finally it fell apart.  The truth came out.   And I walked away hurt, angry and stunned.   It was like making my way out of a web.  I pushed back the cobwebs and found light.

I unwrapped the lies and found truth.  I  opened my eyes and I realized Jesus was right there ready to walk me through the hard days ahead.  Long days of dealing with the fallout of my stupid decisions.

I wish I’d paid attention to the red flags.

I wish I’d listened to trusted friends.

I wish I’d NOT set aside my time with Jesus.

But in all of it, I learned to keep my eyes locked on Jesus and stay firmly rooted in His Word in ALL that I do.