I was thirteen years old once. Like most thirteen year olds do, I believed my world was coming to a crashing holt, and the end was near. I had braces with the blue rubber bands that month. That day after the Christmas party I was wearing my favorite black Beatles shirt (one of the two Abbey Road shirts I had alternated wearing every other day that December) with a pair of super slick brown plaid shorts to go along with it. Needless to say, I was the gem of everyone’s eye, the coolest chick you ever did meet. That last sentence was also known as false to everyone outside of my parents, my elementary school siblings, and my grandma. Most every one else said I needed to cut back on that ice cream a little.
I came home from the white elephant Christmas gift exchange with a heart that had finally had enough. I was through, I was done. If someone wanted to be in my life, they were going to seek ME out. They would have to initiate being MY friend. I was going to be the one that was wanted, not the other way around. I was going to be the one that was sought after. I’m not seeking a soul to be my friend, not again. There was no way I’m ever putting my heart strings on the line anymore, only to be sawed in half slowly with a dull butter knife. I fell on my bed face first with a heart filled to the brim with defeat and a plan. A plan to change it all, and the drive of heart ache to get me there.
I remember being in elementary school looking at all those rowdy, angsty, good for nothin’ hot topic shopping teenagers, saying “Don’t worry momma, I won’t ever be like them.” Yeah, it obviously didn’t take long. It didn’t even take until I was fifteen for my world to end. It ended at thirteen and I rebuilt it on a bed of lies.
That day in the Beatles shirt, I created a golden rule I would live by. One that I have to continue to check myself on at the age of twenty.
Vulnerable was never, ever, going to be something I would be. Not ever again.
You see, being vulnerable I’ve learned goes beyond speaking your story out in the open once, pretending to find freedom in it, and moving on. Being vulnerable should actually be practiced in every aspect of our lives, including friendships.
Well what does that mean? Let me tell you, I’m still trying to figure it out myself. It’s not easy. It’s a bit ugly, and it hurts, a lot. That’s why I shut down in the first place. Because having the opposite of authentic friendships and having surface level people around who only flocked because I created myself physically attractive, was easier than the alternative of a friendship heart break and rejection. For the rest of my teenage hood I would starve myself, build the wall of china of boundaries, and become completely, and irrevocably, emotionless.
In a culture of people who are absolutely obsessed with not facing the things that hurt us, we result in numbing the feelings that cause us pain. But here’s the truth. We can’t just numb one set of our emotions, the ones that we want to get rid of without actually dealing with. What ends up happening is we numb all of our emotions in an attempt to only close off one section. We are then robbed of all of the happiness, joy, and peace too. As a result, we don’t feel anything. How can we be authentic, if we are completely incapable of feeling anything at all?
At the beginning of this very year, the Lord showed mercy on me and took me on an adventure with Him to two places I never wanted to go. For one, South America, and second, the inside of my mind. I was content to stay far away from both of those areas forever. But, we killed two birds with one stone.
I could talk for days about how the Lord had shaken me during that season. But today, we’ll talk about the beginning to a conscious realization of a battle I fight this very day. I kept and keep, all people at an extreme distance in an attempt to guard my heart from the pain of rejection. That’s all it is. Here’s the cold hard truth though.
The Lord has placed people in my life that has made it near impossible to keep them at a far distance. Because of the way they allow the Lord to work so tangibly through them, because of their wisdom, authenticity, and joy, I want to know them. I want to know why they are who they are, I want the freedom that they have, too. I want these people in my life not purely for selfish reasons, not to make me feel sought after, not to surround myself with good company, not to play the fake friend game. I want them in my life for a reason that terrified me, and sometimes still does a little bit to this day. Because I genuinely, naturally, love them.
For the first time I authentically loved people. I genuinely had the brain function to listen to their stories because there was a genuine care and concern for them in my heart. I wanted to know more about them, I wanted to serve them and love them well. I would stay up all night if I could, because late night conversations are my absolute favorite if you were wondering, but also because I have the desire to invest in the people that I am surrounded with.
All of this, loving people naturally, it’s only by the grace of my Savior that I am capable of any of it. My human mind is always still waiting though. Waiting for the reasons my walls and boundaries were put up in the first place to return. Waiting for the loss of friendship to come, waiting for rejection, waiting for all of the genuine love I have for people to turn into hurt when they’re not around. This is what I’m sick of. This I what I can’t stand anymore. These last walls I have in my heart with friendship are because I’m holding on so dearly to the waiting for rejection.
But, you know what, these people, they’re worth the risk.
Ever since that day at thirteen, I’ve asked the Lord for that one life long best bud. Instead, in this very moment, I’m watching the Lord orchestrate an answer to my question in ways I couldn’t have began to think of myself. In the way my life is unfolding, many people come and go. Some are in there for a season, some are there for much longer. There is a purpose for each unique and beautiful soul I meet, and my goal is to be of purpose to them. I want to serve them well, love them well, and just be who I was created to be, alongside who they are created to be.
It’s a Friday night. I’m watching the lightening light up the roof of our hostel that I’m sitting on. Beauty and the beast is playing down stairs, and I think I heard someone talking about whole foods out front. I do miss Kombutcha, but there is absolutely no place I would rather be in this moment then right here, talking to Jesus about the things I’m just done and over with.
Here’s to friends.