I started thinking about a post the other day. But it included using the word “friends” in the context of the way I used to think of friends when I was in high school. And honestly, I didn’t really have friends in high school. I knew people and was friendly with some people. I tried to be nice to everyone, but to say I was “friends” with someone meant something totally different to me then.
By the time I got to high school, I’d had several people I thought were my friends treat me really bad and so I was very slow to give someone the title of “friend”. Very slow.
To me, a friend was someone you loved spending time with, someone you could be yourself around and not have to worry about everything you said or did being misconstrued or turned into an offense. It meant you could count on that person to “have your back”, to not spread rumors about you or desert you when you needed them. It meant that if they came up on some people talking bad about you, they’d be the one who took up for you, who would set the record straight…not just walk on by or even worse, join in with the group.
As a young child, I can remember a few “friend events”. This refers to an afternoon or perhaps a couple of days spent in perfect camaraderie with someone. These were hours spent playing and laughing that you might dream about days later. The time spent was that good.
I learned rather quickly though that just because I’d spent that one afternoon a few years ago in perfect sync with someone did NOT mean they were my friend or that they’d even still like me in a different setting with different people around.
For me, at that stage in my life, that was SUCH a shock! I just was not wired that way. If I liked you, I liked you no matter who was around or what was going on. But I soon learned that was dangerous on my part. That you couldn’t just be all “out there” with people because they would rip you to shreds.
So, as I entered high school, I really didn’t have any close friends. As I continued on through those monumental years, I did have several people who I got close to, who I considered (and still do) friends, but it wasn’t a close, deep friendship that I longed for. It was never a “best friend” relationship.
And maybe that’s where I get this feeling (that still plagues me today) of not being wanted or loved or liked.
Let me state that this is NOT a post to bash my mother. However, it’s recently come to my realization that something she said to me once and then insinuated other times in my childhood has colored my whole view of who I am and how others see me.
One of the few people I DID consider a “best friend”, at least for a few years when I was in grade school, was a girl whose family went to the same church we did and we spent a lot of time together on the weekends. She was about 3 years older than me, so we didn’t go to the same classes, but weekends were always spent together. And this friend had asked me to come home with her for some kind of whole-family thing.
Unlike me, she was the youngest of a family of six kids. I was the oldest in a family of two girls. We were total opposites, but I loved the atmosphere in her family. It was so totally different and I was treated like “one of the gang”.
I know my mother had my diabetes to consider when letting me go and do things, but this was different. I’d spent the night with this family dozens of times, but when I went to ask her if I could go, Mom said, “They don’t really want you to go.”
I don’t think I actually realized it then, not in the chaos of the situation or the feeling of unfairness because I wanted to go so bad and also the crying that I had to do then because I wasn’t being allowed to go… but every time I re-live that moment, those words, now it’s like a sharp slap across the face.
And I realize that I feel that way SO often when I’m in a group of people. If there is the least bit of talk that’s “prior history” for the rest of the group, I will instantly back away. Even if the talk isn’t purposely to exclude me, I will feel as if it is. And I will hear those words, “They don’t really want you.”
I hear that sometimes when my husband tells me he loves me and I’m feeling particularly unloveable. I hear it when my grown sons tell me they love me. I hear it when a friend offers to pick me up to go to lunch or something.
And I KNOW it’s the devil or satan or whatever you want to call him. I just know that it comes from the enemy of my happiness. The enemy of my closeness to Christ. He will even go so far as to whisper it in my ears when I want to spend time in Christ’s presence.
During this last, most horrible phase of the depression I found myself pondering death. Not contemplating it, but just thinking about how nice it would be to just “go on”. And those words came…“What in the world does God want with you? He doesn’t want you either.”
Annnnd, there went my “clinical composure”. Out of all this thinking and writing about one of the most painful aspects of my life, the tears never stung my eyes til now.
And that’s what satan wants when he whispers such horror into my head. But I know The Truth. His name is Jesus. So take that, you wicked creature!
I still have a lot of trouble dealing with that mindset that people don’t really want to be around me. They’re not really my friend. I’m not really wanted in the group. I’m not really liked by those people.
It’s a constant thing for me to fight against and in a world where it’s hard to read people and they DO tend to let you down or leave you behind, it’s really REALLY hard to keep my head on straight where this particular lie comes into play.
I’m just thankful God didn’t leave me in that lie. In the huge vat of that lie where I had been floating for months and was fully convinced that no one wanted me at all. I’m thankful He didn’t give up on me and put others in my life who didn’t either.
God’s so incredibly good!!
[ADDENDUM] As for my definition of friends, as I alluded to in that first paragraph, and how I view the word now… I have friends now. I have some GOOD friends. They will call to check on me if I’m scarce on Facebook or if they hear I’m under the weather. They will even come by to see about me or bring food or other sweet gifts if I’m sick. (and I have one friend who is so precious, she will bring gifts for no reason at all!) I have one friend who was so sensitive to what was going on with me that she insisted I follow her to a quiet room, away from a crowd at an event at camp where I was working, and she promptly sat me down, knelt and untied my boots and massaged my feet because she could see how bad I was hurting. So God has been good to me. I have some amazing, awesome friends!
And after all that, I still listen to that voice, that lie that tells me no one loves me. When I am feeling analytic and take time to ponder this, I wonder why it is so easy for me to believe that. Is it because that has been ingrained in my mind? Is it because I feel unlovable? Is it because I don’t much love myself?
I honestly don’t know at this point. But when I figure it out, I’ll be sure to let you know.
Zephaniah 3:17 — “The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”