My Friend Ellen

My friendship with her began about 11 years ago. I was a teenager at the time and had just moved 500 miles to learn more about faith and the Bible and the Adventist message. I was starting at a new school in a new place—and I felt plenty of awkwardness trying to navigate the unfamiliar hallways and social networks. I was always glad when I could spend the weekend with my new friends at Hockinson Heights Church. It was there that I first heard about Ellen, though it was several weeks before I met her personally. And when I did, I thought that she and I would be friends for a long time.

Most of the reason that I liked Ellen was that she was a devout Christian. It seemed she had nothing to say that wasn't about God, and when she talked about Him, it was like she really knew Him—and I could sense it. It was inspiring, really.

The other reason I liked Ellen was that she talked straight. Flattery is annoying, and she never flattered anybody. She was always real and always concerned about what mattered. If you were too caught up in yourself, Ellen would let you know. If you were neglecting what Jesus had asked of you, Ellen would remind you of your responsibility. She always told the truth. At first I liked this about her, but that didn't last forever.

After a while I grew tired of faithful Sister Ellen pointing out my sins. And she made it seem like every little sin was the worst! I couldn't go left or right without some guilt complex. It started to drive me crazy! And besides, she was so old-fashioned and a lot of good Christians had never read anything Ellen had written... I was friendly on the outside, but angry on the inside, hoping I'd never run into her again.

So for a long while I pretty much stopped listening to what Ellen had to say because I hated feeling guilty, and I wished that sometimes—at least just one time!—she could let something go. But when I heard people talking bad about her, calling her a liar and fake and a cheat, it kind of woke me up. Because I knew that what had bothered me about Ellen White was her truth-telling.

So I read up on the criticisms of her ministry and the responses too. Eventually I became convinced that the critics were wrong: Ellen G. White was a faithful messenger of Jesus. Her love for and commitment to Him was so evident on every page, and she never said anything to me that contradicted the Word. I couldn't hold against her my hardheartedness, I couldn't hold against her the way other people quoted her, I couldn't hold against her her faithfulness.

So we became friends again. I don't hear from her everyday and sometimes what she says still stings a little, but I've learned an important lesson through my friendship with Ellen: Real friends tell you the truth.

December 01, 2007 / Feature