What I wish the church had taught me about being single

1) It’s totally normal to be single.

2) It might not be a season of life.  It might last my entire life.

3) It’s totally normal if I am single my whole life.

4) What to do with my desires as I “wait”…and wait and wait.

5) I have importance and worth in the Church/church as a single woman.

6) Marriage and motherhood are options/possibilities, not necessarily promises.

7) It’s okay to long for a husband.

8) Myths….and the damage they do.  Contentment, perfect yourself…etc.

9) It’s okay to be totally content in being single…but how do I do this?

10) I don’t have to live my life waiting for someone to come along so that I can start living.

11) Becoming “unsingle” is not going to make my life more important.

12) Becoming “unsingle” is not going to mean that suddenly my life will be ok.

13) Being single doesn’t mean something is wrong with me.

14) Marriage isn’t a gold-star for good behaviour. Emily Maynard eloquently fights against in this amazing and eye-opening article:  http://www.prodigalmagazine.com/why-arent-you-married-yet/

Now that I write these out, I think that I *might* attempt to do a post on each one of these things.  After all, who better to talk about singleness than a girl who has been single for 25 years?!

I recently wrote this comment on an article…

“I wish that singleness had been talked about as a viable option in the kingdom (besides Paul and Jesus) and how being single is not just a transition period into something that is actually important: marriage and motherhood. Singleness could actually be the stage on which my life is played…I don’t want to miss the first acts just because I’m thinking that some other character (husband) has to enter first before I do anything of importance.”

Here we go!!

Miracles: the wild life edition

Before we continue, please just go here and watch this…and breathe Jesus into your pores.  I could honestly fall on the floor in awe of the Lord each time I hear this song.   It is anointed, straight from the throne of God.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcnfT4arZtI

So…that was awesome.  Now, let’s get to it.  Sometimes, life just gives you lemons.  And while you know how the saying goes…you’re supposed to make lemonade.  BUT, sometimes you’re just don’t have the money to afford sugar; maybe you’re too exhausted to collect the water…and you’ve got nothing to stir it with and your pitcher’s cracked.  THEREFORE: you can’t make no lemonade!!!!!

Life is sometimes like this.  My mother has been sick for almost seven years.  Well, she’s probably been sick her entire life.

We moved away from her/my childhood hometown when I was in grade 12.  We moved to a beautiful place filled with rolling, pesticide laden fields.  This either exacerbated or caused what she now suffers from.  The doctors still aren’t sure what’s wrong.  All we know is that about 7 years ago, she was in the shower, gasping for breath, struggling to lift her arms up to wash her hair.  She started hyperventilating and called the ambulance.  She was rushed to the hospital, then sent home as if she was nutty.  A while later, she went for a routine blood test…at this point, she wasn’t working and when she made supper, she had to lean against the counter for support.  The blood test results were reported to her by another doctor who called and said, “Get to the hospital, you need a transfusion.”  I remember she packed a little bag and I held back the tears.

She hugged us all goodbye and I went to her, standing strong.  As long as I can hug someone till the tears go away, I’ll be fine.  I clung to her and she pushed me back, not wanting her tears to start and I burst into tears.  She told me not to get her going.  I can always make her cry.  It’s funny.  She never cries, but when I cry, she cries…  Anyway, I sat down at her desk and bawled and told my sisters to just leave me for a few minutes.  They all came and tried to comfort me–even the littlest one, 8 years younger than me.

She came home with a bruise on her arm from where the needle stuck her and I came home from school to find her on the computer.  I asked if she was ok.  She didn’t sugar-coat things, never has.  Seven years of this and that later, she’s still not well…and no one knows anything more than they did before.  She’s anemic…but why?  Her whole body is affected by this anemia: from her inability to lose weight, process foods properly, have energy for life…it’s all connected.  When my mom climbs the 14 steps from the basement to the top floor, she’s out of breath and has to wait a while before she catches it.  Her heart pounds.  She would often say, “My heart has to work faster than it’s supposed to.  And the heart only has so many beats in it.  Mine’s going faster, so it’s going to be done faster.”  And so, she went on heart medication to slow down her heart.

Depression kicked in probably when she hit puberty and she’s never really been able to climb out from the funk she’s been in since.  It’s a rare day when I call my mom and she’s in the mood to talk.  It’s awesome when she finds something that brings her joy because she’s so often feely crappy.  It’s a rare day when I hear her laugh.  She never played with us when I was a kid.  She was more likely just sitting beside us, holding us, watching us play, reading stories to us…but she never played.  She’s never been cheerful.  Never really even optimistic.  She’s never been able to see the glass as anything other than about to run dry.  And I have so much compassion for her.  I love this woman more than my own life.  But I want her to be whole and that can wear on me….if I make it my problem instead of Jesus’.

It’s hard to be sick.  It’s also hard to see people be healed from sickness and wonder why you’re being left behind to suffer.  When I told my mom about P’s recovery, she mumbled, “That’s good for her.”  She wasn’t sure how to take this “miracle” business, but she trusted me that I was telling the truth and we’ve heard of miracles happening in others, too…but I think what bothered her more is that creeping thought that wonders, “When are you going to give me what I’ve asked and begged for, God?” or “Why does God answer one prayer over another?”  And that’s a huge can of worms.  But I’m going to open it a bit.

Theories people have for God answering prayer:

1) I fits with His will.  Benefits of this theory: God is in charge of everything.  There’s something in charge of all the mess.  God is not leaving us here to wander alone.  There’s order in the chaos.  Problems with this theory: what about the mother of seven who loves the Lord who dies of liver failure as her two youngest kids are in grade 6?  What about the three year old whose religiously pious father raped her?

2) People who want to be healed need to be healed of internal, spiritual things, first.  Benefits: there is a discipline and some kind of pay-off to our spiritual life.  If we’re obedient and we do the things we believe we should in order to follow God, He will reward us with health and wholeness.   Issues: the onus is on the person doing works and therefore, judgment and condemnation can ensue.  We may begin to look at someone who suffers and think, “They are sinful and they suffer.”  This is just a Biblical karma and it makes no sense.  God is not a tit-for-tat God.  Obedience, surrender, and repentance play key roles in making our lives better, but the rain falls on the just and the unjust.  It’s not about getting for doing…it’s about loving Him so much that we desire and need to do things…the love is where the blessings come from, not the dogma, not the doctrine of do-do-do…it’s about love.  Desire, and drawing close to the only One who can save and bring peace.

3) Stuff happens. Benefits: No one’s at fault.  There are things we can’t control.  Issues: Stuff happens because of God and without God’s approval.  Stuff happens that’s not under God’s sovereignty.  And then this plays into the bigger issues of the problem of evil and the power of God.  WoAH!  Theology 101.  Also, I think that there can be a link between spiritual and physical health, but not in the tit-for-tat way.  It’s more like when you’re spiritually dead or broken or feeling icky, then there’s nothing to hold up your spirit.  Like it says in the Bible, you’ll survive with a sick body, but who can bear it if the spirit is crushed?  (Proverbs 18:15 The spirit of a man can endure his sickness, But as for a broken spirit who can bear it?)  If we’re swimming in bitterness, wrath, anger, unforgiveness, then our spirit is broken.

A breakthrough came a few months ago: mom discovered many of her symptoms linked with Celiac disease.  She went gluten free for 6 months.  And she felt better.  And the iron infusions actually worked.  But it still wasn’t doing anything really life-changing or health-improving.  So, she went to see a specialist.  And thankfully, the specialist took her seriously.  She’s back on gluten (damaging her body for the sake of figuring out how her body can be fixed).  She’s also scheduled for a bone marrow test which may come up with some cause of all the chaos that’s been going on in her for so long.  My only consolation has been: if it was cancer, she’d be dead by now; it’s something that has to be found and treated.

And perhaps, this side of Heaven, my mother won’t ever be fixed in the body.  But I desire with my whole heart that she be mended in the soul.  And it’s hard being chronically ill.  You lose focus, drive; your energy is so low you feel like, “What’s the point of getting up in the morning?”  And pretty soon you lose hope.  My prayer for my mother has always been the God heal her internally first before He heals her externally because those things are eternal…the soul is immortal…the body is dust.

The Lord heals.  And the Lord is a miracle worker.  I eagerly await the day when He pours His shalom and healing over my mother.  She is healing.  His Name is Salvation, His mission to save….us from ourselves, from death, from sickness. AMEN!  Hoshiana: come and save us.

You have come to save us

You have come to save us

You have come to save us, Lord

You’re the Hope among us

You’re the peace that binds us

You have come to save us, Lord

King of all the other Kings on Earth

Miracles: the precious life edition

There’s an amazing blog I read that is just AWESOME.  Here’s a link to the latest post if you want to see a mega-miracle unfolding.  Warning: there is a picture of a starving child, BUT it’s worth it.  Oh, Praise the Lord!!!!

http://aplacecalledsimplicity.blogspot.ca/2013/05/whoooa-back-up-did-he-really-just-say.html

Isn’t that awesome!! God is still a God of miracles. 

I have also seen God work in mysterious and wonderful ways…here are just two of them.

1) A few years ago, my cousin K was having trouble concentrating in high school.  Her attention span was nil, she was exhausted all the time, and she often felt violently ill.  She wondered if it was the whiteboard markers, the fluorescent lights, the new school…whatever.  And then her parents took her to the doctor.  They did testing on her and found out that she had a hole in her heart.  She was booked for an appointment at the women and children’s hospital in the area and depending on the results, she could be put on a list for a heart transplant.   

Weeks went by and I was sitting in church.  I am tenderhearted and when things build up in me, I can let loose and bawl.  I am known as the crier in my family and from how much my family cries, I’d only have to let one good tear drop for me to be known by that name.  Anyway…I was in church and the pastor’s wife asked if anyone needed healing to stand up.  She said that even if someone was going to stand in the name of someone else to ask for healing they could do that.  My mom had been (still is) sick (it’s going on 7 years now) and I was praying for her and my cousin K.  I was trembling, feeling called to stand and yet I could not.  

I sat there shaking until the tears came.  I just started weeping and bawling.  My family was mortified, but I couldn’t contain myself.  And I felt like I was releasing tears of anguish for K, but also like a pressure valve had been released and I was no longer worried about her.  I guess now that I know that the Spirit of God moved me to tears to weep on her behalf.  It says in the Bible that when we have to words, we are to groan and the Holy Spirit will make sense of our prayers before God.  I think that’s what I did that day.

Not long after that, my aunt called my mom to tell her something.  K had gone to the doctor and they did an ultrasound of her heart and found NOTHING wrong.  No hole, no imperfection.  My cousin did the happy dance…and I nodded saying, “I knew it.” 

2) My friend P from church recently went to a women’s health clinic where they found a lump in her breast the size of a golf ball.  She was scheduled for an appointment nine hours away in the big city for five days later.  It was an emergency.  

We met to pray on Wednesday and we prayed through verses of the Bible.  It was amazingly powerful to read of God’s faithfulness and proclaim it over her.  I knew KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that P was healed.  

Friday she went down for her appointment and the doctor found NOTHING wrong.  Just fatty tissue which had always been there.  How amazing is our God!!!  

There were of course naysayers who thought that the lump had never been there in the first place, who said, “How awesome that the lump was never there” or doubted that there had been anything to worry about in the first place, but the lump was real!!  And God HEALED HER!!!!  It was so amazing.

God is good (all the time) and all the time (God is good).  But it’s so much easier to sing hymns of praise when life is carefree and easy and when things go your way.  It’s harder to sing empty…like the bow of a violin on the strings sings in the emptiness of the hollow made to resonate the sound and make it breathe and grow in emptiness.  But…we are no violins.  And what about when God doesn’t answer your prayer for a miracle???  Next post!

Friendships: the precious life edition

So, I am tired and I am going to be subbing in HIGH SCHOOL for the next two days, so I hope I survive till the weekend, but…I wanted to write about something, so here it is:

AWESOME FRIENDSHIPS!!!!!!  Between girls.  Yes, it’s possible.  It seems hard, though.  I mean, girls all know that the worst enemy of a girl is not a boy, it’s another girl.  Girls know how to go for the heart.  Girls know how to pick and tear and plant a seed of paranoia that will sprout into head games, that will bloom into a big ole MESS.  And some girls thrive off of that.  I read on Ann Voskamp’s blog entry on {in}courage website that female friendships can really, really damage or build us.   She writes about a fictional girl whose mother sang the song of her soul (almost like the song God sings over us) and this girl grew up singing it, but she eventually forgot the song.  In later years, eventually her friends (sisters) sang the song to her.  I love the way she writes this:

Her sisters/friends sang her beauty when she saw herself ugly.

Her sisters sang her wanted when she saw herself broken.

Her sisters sang her hope when she only felt hurt.

Her sisters sang her beloved — when she couldn’t believe.

It could be like this — It could be honest, what her sisters sang:

This is a fallen world. So everyone has broken edges. So everyone is going to hurt you. So commit who you will suffer for.

http://www.incourage.me/2013/04/the-one-song-no-woman-can-afford-to-miss.html

At the end of the post, Ann asks if we’ve ever been hurt or healed by friends.  You know the hurt from my other post, but I have been healed by friends, too.   I have three sisters and they are, honestly, my dearest friends.  People might say that family is biased–they have to love you and all that–but I think that my sisters give me the most honest appraisal of myself that anyone besides my mom would give.  They have seen me run the gamut of emotions; on my best days, on my worst days; they have seen me fly off the handle; cry when stressed; be loving and serving with people.  They have the most unbiased view of anyone because they see all of me and they love me anyway.  We haven’t always loved each other well.  And we haven’t been able to love each other well (healthy and whole) which can only be done by Yeshua (Jesus).

Okay, if you thought sisters as friends is a cheat, I also have a few dear, close friends that I love.

1. Met Li her in grade 9 and became friends instantly.  Love everything the other did.  Old souls together; watched loads of black and white movies together (Abbott and Costello, Casablanca at the park); went camping together; laughed and giggled about boys, then wrote emails back and forth into her engagement and marriage to the man of her dreams.  We are the kind of friends who could go without seeing each other for years, meet up and feel like nothing had changed.  We recently reconnected over Facebook and it’s been amazingly fun!  She has been a listening ear (or a reading eye??) on Facebook as I have handed over bits and pieces of my heart that’s been broken by previous friends.  She said to me the other day, “I see you.  Like on Avatar.”  And I freaked out because 1) movie quotes are a family tradition (or lovely family heirloom…name that movie) and I loved Avatar and all that “I see you” stands for.

2. Met Jo when I left home to do my teaching internship.  Moved across the country to a wild, vast land with beauty I am still trying to comprehend.  She is the type of friend who would do anything for me…and sometimes did.  And she’s the type of friend who demands and gives honesty.  We have laughed silly till tears pour from our eyes, we have seen each other on our best, worst, and in-between days.  She shared her family with me and included me at every turn when I was away from my own people.  She is the friend I have had deep God conversations with into the night.  She is the friend who told me that I was a good friend…she sings my song to me over and over again, teaching me good things about myself, writing a new story in me, seeing all I am meant to be…and calling it out of me!

3. Met La when I moved away to do my teaching internship, too.  She and I literally hit it off from minute one and we often said, “This is amazing, we’re neither one of us very good at making friends and the Lord definitely wanted us together.”  Amen.  We felt like we had always known each other; eternal friends more than kindred spirits like Anne would say.  Anyway, she and I had our shared insecurities and we could talk about anything and everything and often did and we never, ever felt judged by the other.  Ours is an easy, yet deep friendship built on doing what we say we will and investing our love into each other.  For Christmas, she bought me a bag of Ruffles chips, gave me like 8 baby oranges (because we spent one night eating a whole box of them together) and drew me a precious picture of the two of us smiling together.  She’s precious to me.

Over the years, I have had friends come and go and I always thought I was the key ingredient as to why they never seemed to work out.  But, friendships are hard.  And I praise God that He has given me these three precious (and my three wonderful) sisters and more friends that I am starting to get to know and share with and love…and it’s awesome.  This is the point of life: to take the painful with the glorious…but the glorious always comes!!!!!!

sdifklnfoidsujadknafdiobudknjosdiuvafn

This is how I feel right now.

One of my dearest friends once texted me a random conglomeration of letters like the ones from the title of this blog and I was so confused.  I asked her what she was doing.  I thought that maybe she was pocket texting me because it made no sense.  She said that the letters expressed how she felt.  I quizzed her about it a bit more, asking her when you’d use such a technique (I am a linguist, can you tell???) and then I finally understood.  And I was so excited that I had finally found a way to textually convey my feelings of frustration, anguish, irritation, or any other yucky emotion.

Today has been a rather annoying day.  Still dealing with the ‘friend’ issue from the wild life post….still trying to cope with the fact that my mother has been ill for going on 7 years and our doctor really wasn’t doing much about it…still annoyed that my roommate might ask me to go play badminton and I REALLY HATE BADMINTON…still feeling frustrated that the people I call friends use me and demand things from me, while giving little or nothing back….still feeling annoyed that I LET PEOPLE DO STUFF LIKE THAT TO ME.

And I shouldn’t feel like this.  I went to church today where we had great worship.

A lady from our close-knit house church recently had a huge answer to prayer that we all rejoiced with her about (more on that later!!).

I have everything I need.

It’s just one of those rotten days.

I feel like I’m 11 again.  Like I’ve got the world on my shoulders.  Like there’s something wrong with me that I can’t possibly fix.  Like there’s this stress ball inside of my chest that is curling and throbbing and growing into this big monster that’s going to swallow me whole.  What I’ve just been convicted/prompted of is that I need to let Jesus love me.  I need to let the Lord minister to my heart and swallow up those fears that I’m not good enough, never will be, and can only bring harm.  I’ve been living under lies and curses that all I ever do is break things, that I’m to blame for everything.  That’s a lot of responsibility, but also a lot of guilt.  And I need to continually give it over to Jesus.  I need to ask Him to come in and take all that yuck away.  But when I ask for that and don’t fill myself with His Word, I leave myself empty and waiting for those lies to come back in.  They may not be good for me, but at least they’ll keep me from feeling that gnawing, empty void.

I love how faithful God is.  And even in the midst of pain, we can turn to Him and He will save us.

Isaiah 35

The joy of the Redeemed

1The wilderness and the desert will be glad,
And the Arabah will rejoice and blossom;
Like the crocus

2It will blossom profusely
And rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of the LORD,
The majesty of our God.

3Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.

4Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.”

5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened
And the ears of the deaf will be unstopped.

6Then the lame will leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the mute will shout for joy.
For waters will break forth in the wilderness
And streams in the Arabah.

7The scorched land will become a pool
And the thirsty ground springs of water;
In the haunt of jackals, its resting place,
Grass becomes reeds and rushes.

8A highway will be there, a roadway,
And it will be called the Highway of Holiness.
The unclean will not travel on it,
But it will be for him who walks that way,
And fools will not wander on it.

9No lion will be there,
Nor will any vicious beast go up on it;
These will not be found there.
But the redeemed will walk there,

10And the ransomed of the LORD will return
And come with joyful shouting to Zion,
With everlasting joy upon their heads.
They will find gladness and joy,
And sorrow and sighing will flee away.

single, not alone

Rambling thoughts on singleness…

I am single.  It’s definitely something that people know about me, but it’s not something I really advertise.  This is not because I’m ashamed, but because it’s personal and I’m not looking.  Well, I’m not looking today ;P.  But being single is also not the most important thing about me.

I’ve been single my whole life…as in never been asked out on a date, not even a friend-date to prom single.  As in made it through 5.5 years at a private Christian university single.  As in gone to church my whole life single.  Yeah.  For those who know, that’s deep, deep single.  That’s the single that God has called you to, really.  At least for the time being.

And most days, I’m okay with it, so okay with it, that it doesn’t even cross my mind.  Sometimes I’m so okay with my marital status (or lack thereof) that I think, “Hmmm, I’m single…and I like it.”  Other days being single seems like a sad, depressing thing, and on really-really bad days, being single is like some kind of judgment or flag that I carry around with me, causing me to feel pathetic.  But like I said, most days, I’m okay with being single.

I think probably the biggest fear of single girls is that they will be alone for the rest of their lives.  This is part of my fear.  I don’t want to do life by myself.  I vividly remember grocery shopping probably three years ago, going through the aisles alone and putting “food for one” into my cart.  I was planning my meals, planning my life, planning “I only need one package of pita bread.”  And I reached for something on the shelf, maybe a box of macaroni, and such a feeling of sadness overwhelmed me that I almost cried right there in the aisle.  I thought to myself, “I don’t want to do this alone my whole life.  I don’t want to shop for myself.  I want to shop for a family, have someone to talk to in the store, go home and fill the cupboards for someone else besides myself.  I want to have a husband, children, I don’t want to shop for one forever.”  I am not satisfied with doing life with a good group of girlfriends by my side.  I want a man.  I think for a long time, I tried to be strong, tried to tell people, “I don’t need a man, I don’t want a man, I’d like a man” and then I realized that I’d been lying to myself.  I really did want a man.

Isn’t it precious when people who are married try to comfort you with stories of how they felt when they were single?  They tell you kind, yet unhelpful things like, “I wasn’t thinking about dating and poof, there he was” or “It’s so hard being single, but keep at it because one day, when you least expect it, he’ll appear.”  And so, we singles begin to “least expect” every day.  We close our eyes and pray, “God, I give you my love story, I give you my life, my desires for this guy, my desires for a guy, and I just give it all up to you to do your timing and to just bring this man into my life when I am ready and when you want it to happen…” and secretly we open one eye and look around for this mystery man.  For so long, my unspoken prayer has been, “So, I surrendered my love life, where’s my man?!?”  but surrender isn’t just a feeling, it’s a way of living.  And it’s a hard way of living.

I guess I need to remember that while I may be single that does not mean that I am doing life alone.  I have three wonderful sisters who support and love me.  I have my parents, my extended family, my friends, and Jesus to sustain me.  I’m not alone, but I am single.  And single doesn’t encompass all that I am.  It doesn’t change the way that I look at the world, it just changes the way I move through it.  Being single doesn’t give me a stamp of approval or disapproval; it’s just the state I’m in right now.  And if I am in this state for the rest of my life, that is fine.  God will carry me through.

There’s a lot of rhetoric in the church about marriage.  Yes, marriage is good, but it is not the only way to be.  Single people are almost always treated like married people-in-waiting, as if they are hovering in a perpetual state of wondering when they mystery man or woman will show up.  What if God has called someone to a single life?  There is usually nowhere to prepare for this life, or learn about it, especially in the Protestant churches.  Being single is another way of being in the world that is almost always overlooked in churches.  I’m not about to say, “Single is better because Jesus was single and Paul said we should all be single and blah blah…” but I am tired of hearing sermons about marriage and none about singleness.  What does it mean to be single?  Is it a judgment from God?  Does it mean that you don’t trust/love him enough, you’re not ready?  Should you spend your life preparing for a mate instead of living a full single life that has been given to you?  And how do you deal with issues of lust and sexual feelings in singleness?  The world tells you one thing, but that’s most certainly not God’s way.  It’s time to stop relegating singles to the singles group (which we all know is a place where people college age or 35+ go to hopefully meet someone they can marry) and ignoring their needs and stories.

But most of all, we need to realize that being single does not mean being alone.  Being single doesn’t mean ‘pre-married’ or ‘lady-in-waiting.’  Being single means that I’m right where God wants me.  I have lessons to learn here.  Things to do here, people to affect here, as a single woman…who is never alone.

friendships: the wild life edition

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!

–  — — — — — –

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 cried.

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.