I’m going to try something. I want to take themes or ideas and then compare and contrast them based on the wild and precious life idea. I strongly believe that a huge part of being human is the ugly side of life. God stores all of our tears we cry. And we’ll never feel pain in Heaven. We’ll never feel hurt, rejection, bitterness, unworthy. Those are the wild, raw, ugly parts of life, but they are necessary for being human. So, I want to start this off with the topic of friendship. This post will be about the “wild” side of friendships and the next will be about the “precious” side. Make sense? Off to the races!
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I have a very old wound. It is a winding, ugly scar that snakes across my heart and tears open ever-so-slightly time and again. For some reason, I will not let this old wound heal. I keep opening it up believing it somehow makes me humble.
It’s a wound that says I am unworthy. Specifically, this type of unworthy wound says that I am unworthy of friends. No one really loves you. The scar whispers. Sometimes it shouts. Often it speaks through comparison: “See how they love that person, no one loves you like that. See what they do for her; no one’s going to do that for you. Everyone will forget about your birthday. No one will care… No one really wants you around. You’re the starter friend…the one people come to for advice or when they need someone to sympathize and listen well…but other than when they need you for something, people don’t want you.” And some sadistic part of me loves to sit in these lies until they are all I can see, hear, and believe about myself.
Sometimes the scar rears its ugly head in a tricky way, a subtle way that catches me off-guard. There’s an old friend who recently contacted me for some information after years of no contact. Things with us ended after her last year of university. We drifted apart. There’s no one to blame. Our lives changed; our priorities changed; our interest in tending our friendship waned…and perhaps we both realized how little we had in common or how hard we’d have to work to keep the friendship viable. Anyway, we didn’t fight or have a big huge thing…it was soft and slow and it barely caused a twinge…
…until she messaged me the other day to ask me for something. She couched it in a friendly message, sharing updates about her new husband, asking me how I was. After me reaching out a few times in previous years to say a nice hello with no response, I can’t say that it felt good. I didn’t know what to say to her…and honestly, I didn’t want to say anything to her. I was mad and hurt and all the pain I had felt at being left out of her life resurfaced. She and I had been on a life-changing trip with another girl in our last shared trip of university. For me, it was huge. For her, not so much. We drifted apart. She got engaged, we found new friends, she didn’t invite me to her wedding…the other girl from the trip sang at her wedding.
So, the hurt came back, but with the hurt came bitterness and guilt. I felt bad about feeling sad that she hadn’t really wanted to keep our friendship going. I felt those old tapes rewind and replay in my head. “People only like you when they can get something from you. You’re unworthy of love and friendship.”
I decided not to write back. But then she messaged again, saying she’d really appreciate me taking a minute to respond. I wrote the next day and while I thoroughly answered her questions, I also wanted to address the issue of our friendship having come to an end. I mentioned something about it hurting. Not that she had hurt me, but it was all I could say. I didn’t write and say, “Leave me alone” or “You haven’t talked to me in years, why should I respond now.” I stood up for myself and mentioned that it hurt…
…and it backfired. She wrote back to say that our friendship ending was not intentional on her part; that she couldn’t have invited me to her wedding (I hadn’t brought this up at all), that we were doing different things, that we were going separate ways…and it was true. But she tried to smooth it all over, to absolve herself from feeling guilt. She said she’d like to reconnect; asked me what God was teaching me now; said she always enjoyed my outlook on life.
I have forgiven her, but I am not interested in picking our friendship back up. She’s not really interested either. She just doesn’t want to feel like she’s been anything other than super kind and nice. So, if I don’t respond, well, that’s my fault because she offered in her to extend kindness to me again.
And what’s so annoying about this whole thing is that it’s not even a mark on the page of eternity. It’s like a little smudge in the corner and yet it’s causing me to literally come to a stand-still and really…get into it and deal with this pain. When we deal with something, God reveals another, deeper level for us to deal with. This is the next layer on the path of coming to Him for all that I need and not relying on anyone else to tell me how to think of myself.
And there’s a fear in me that I’ll do it wrong. I feel like on one hand, I should be able to stand up and decide, “No, right now, I’m not ready to reopen this relationship. It ended. Let’s leave it that way.” And on the other hand, I feel like I have to say, “Yes, I forgive you and I will try again.” You know what, I don’t want to. Is that being wise or is that me being selfish? Is there any point to us talking again? I feel so at odds about this.
I think it’s okay to say that she hasn’t earned the right to have my trust and be honored with knowing about my life. That takes her actually caring…but then I think, “She’s making an effort.” I just want to do nothing. I feel like in order to be true to myself, I have to say, “No, thanks” to her offer to reconnect. I feel like it would make her feel better if I responded and said, “Oh, here’s where my life is now” because she can just read and ignore/reply at will. She doesn’t have to deal with the messy; she never did.
Friendship is messy. And I’m learning slowly that if someone is not willing to deal with the real, honest, raw me, they’re not to be honored with being my friend.