My friend Kay has a way of bringing my crazy brain into perspective. I love that she can hear my words and unearth my heart in a way I hadn’t realized. All with a Jesus perspective.
We were talking today about her recent weekend with a friend. After they had spent the day and evening together with their families, her friend said “I’m glad you invited me to join you today because I know I’m not part of that social group” referring to a group of folks with whom they both serve.
My girl Kay is a popular chica and doesn’t seem to know it. Everyone wants to be around her, spend time with her, and get loved up by her. Oddly, Kay doesn’t see it that way. She doesn’t see that Jesus exudes from her pores, laugh and smile. Of course she doesn’t feel like that, she is human. She thinks that she isn’t in the popular crowd and is on the fringe, too. I was shocked at that because I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t know her or has a bad word to speak about her. We should all be so lucky, right?
When we started our conversation, it morphed (as it always seems to do) into my feelings on friends, acquaintances and women who barely tolerate me. I could relate to her friend intensely.
I have had a perceived friend famine for the past four years. A group of girls I’ve known for decades stopped calling, stopped inviting me to things, and stopped having anything to do with me. The reasons were all different but vague. Life got in the way, they were going through things, I had just remarried and had a baby, I couldn’t relate to where they were in life. It all hurt. At the same time, my siblings stopped talking to me over a really small thing between my sister and me. I had been dealing with serious health issues after my youngest daughter’s birth. To top it all off, nineteen loved ones on both sides, friends and family, had passed away that first year of our marriage.
My hurts got in the way of seeing others positively. All I could do was walk around on my bottom lip and trip on my chin. I cried the loss of so much. I had never really been without friends since the year I had learned to make them as an adult. I felt so lost and alone.
Four long years of loss in almost every aspect of life is a hard thing to bear. I knew I wasn’t alone and wrestled with God over all of it. I knew He had a purpose for all of it, I just didn’t know what it was and couldn’t see it.
I repelled people with my sadness. I lamented over my friendlessness. I didn’t realize I was making it worse. Kay and I even talked about it so many times that I didn’t realize just how repetitive I had become. She constantly and lovingly reminded me that I was loved, my worth didn’t come from people and that God loved me unconditionally.
No one intends to inflict those negative emotions on anyone else. But it happens all of the time. Those “popular” girls at school that you so badly wanted to hang with are now at your church in Bible Study, serving on a team with kids or ministry. They seem so happy, close, and shiny. You feel so small, unwanted, disliked, less than.
That is how I felt almost all the time, everywhere I went. I was either 10-15 years older than the girls in one group or 15-20 years younger than the ladies in a class. Our kids’ ages and stages weren’t in sync. We had little in common with the age gap. Either way, I couldn’t seem to find any similarities. Until I looked at our hearts.
When I looked at those ladies deep within, I saw the same insecurities, hurts, fears and longing to be loved. Did you know that below the dermis layers, we are all so much the exact same?
Our relationship with God is the only thing meant for us to fill that hole, longing to be loved, accepted, and unconditionally loved. We cannot fill it looking to the ladies to the left or right.
Yes, we long for friendship and camaraderie with our sisters in Christ. It is acceptable and necessary to make those connections for our mental well-being. But they won’t hold up unless we pursue our personal relationship with God first.
It’s hard to be on the friendship fringe, especially if you already feel emotionally less than those around you. But when you stop to see all of the people God has placed in your life that love you with His heart the perceived hurts of exclusion disappear. Love wins every time.
As my friend Kay consistently points out, we have laughed, cried and prayed on her porch during every one of those friendship famine years. She has been there when no one else knew to be and she obeyed God when He put me on her heart to call, pray or visit.
This chat was no different. As she recounted the conversation with her friend, she had felt the enormity of her friend’s feelings. I felt the “A-Ha” moment. She felt exactly how I had felt. Left out, marginalized, on the fringe. Kay reminded me again that I do have friends, people who really like me for who I am. I told her that I just couldn’t seem to see the forest for the trees. She thought I said I couldn’t “see the force behind the truth.”
When she misheard what I had said, I realized that the Holy Spirit was at work in a might way between us. I couldn’t see the multitude of people she knew who liked me, I could only see the ones whom I knew openly disliked me. Her incorrect reiteration of my initial statement was more the truth than what I had intended. I couldn’t “see the force behind the truth”.
It is about quality, not quantity. It is about accepting God’s love first and receiving the Godly love given to us from the ones who call us friend. It only takes one or two people, not a whole gaggle. God’s love is more than enough if we will only receive it.
Look at the lady next to you who isn’t your close friend. Do you see her? Really see her? Her hurts look just like yours except they are wearing different clothes. Take the time to listen to her, even if she isn’t your cup of tea. Allow yourself to be unrushed in the conversation. Ask her to join you for a cup of hot liquid and a chat. Include her in the inside joke.
You may not become bosom buddies and that’s ok. But you will show her Jesus’ unconditional love in those moments of unfettered attention. That may be all she needs to feel His love through you.
I’m so glad my girl Kay invited her new friend to a day of fun last weekend. And I’m so grateful that she included me through our conversation. Her new pal and I were sitting at the cool table the whole time and didn’t even know it. Jesus has room for all of us, we just need to keep passing the invitation on to the next gal.