This is a very personal post. I’m writing it not even sure if I have the guts to post it or not. But I know that this blog has become a great place for me to write out strong, emotional and convicting feelings for me. Most of them are good thoughts, but today my heart hurts.
I have always struggled with pleasing people. This is not something that was ingrained in me because my parents didn’t love me enough or that I was bullied as a child. This comes from a part of my heart that loves peace, friendship and reconciliation, and I fail in the fact that I let that control my actions sometimes. I have never had a problem making and keeping friends. I have an outgoing personality and I LOVE being around other people. I love figuring out what they do and don’t like, what makes them tick and doing things for others just because, even if I don’t know them that well. But over the past few years, I have had to watch certain friendships change, even let go of some of them. And I hate it. That is where I am today.
When my dad lost his job a few years ago, numerous people, people who I thought loved me and my family, turned on us in a very real and painful way. People who my parents had bent over backwards for, ministered to, held when they were struggling…people who I believed to be supporters and friends, left our side. I can not begin to tell you the heart break that caused my family. It changed us forever. I never thought that people who I believed to be good, people in a church, could be so mean. I am one of the most loyal people you will ever meet. If you are my friend, I will stick by you until the end, doing everything in my soul to love, connect with and support you. That was just the way I was raised. And when everything happened that June morning, everything I thought I knew to be true about friendship was wiped away. It hurt so badly.
It affected me so much, that I fell into a state of depression for about 6-9 months. Yes, I totally admit that I was depressed. My anger started affecting all of my relationships, my work and most importantly, my heart and relationship with God. It got to the point where it was not healthy for me to keep living in anger the way that I was so I went and talked to my doctor to seek help. He placed me on an antidepressant, and it did the most wonderful thing. It kept me from crying. It gave me a break from the constant emotional turmoil in my heart and allowed me to really think through where I was in life and take a hard look at my emotions and thoughts. After being on the medication for about 9 months and getting to a good place, I was able to slowly taper off. I can’t say enough how grateful I was for that time of being on that medication. Some believe that going on medication is weak and pathetic, but it was what I needed for that period of my life. It allowed me to move past my anger and start to move towards forgiveness to those who I had once called “friends”. And for that, I am so thankful.
As much as that was the most painful time in my life, I grew substantially from it. Our family has gone through quite a few transitions this year as well, once again, causing friendships to change. As much as this has been incredibly painful, I can see how I have grown once again. I have handled the change in friendships and in my anger and hurt in a much healthier, God-honoring way. I am not saying that I have done things perfectly, far from it, but definitely better than I have in the past. It helped that I have a husband who is willing and strong enough to call me out when I have been in the wrong. I could not have done that with out the tremendous support of Eric and my parents, but even more so, I could not have done it with out truly relying on the Lord this past year. He has been so faithful to provide strength and support from true friends and family. There have even been moments of vindication in the midst of it all; confirmation that I have been doing the right thing. Not that I always look for God to “show me” that I’m in the right, but sometimes it does feel good, especially when you are so desperately trying to do the right thing.
I think one of the things I struggle with the most about a changing/lost friendship is missing out on their everyday lives: how their family is doing, how work is, holiday plans, how their kids are growing and changing, going out for lunch dates, even sharing prayer requests with each other. These are things that I love sharing with my friends and I value them so much. I am so blessed to say that I have many dear friends, of all ages, both near and far, whom I am able to share these day to day events with.
One very particular time comes to my mind almost on a daily basis:
I have a special memory with my friend Jodi from this past spring. She was getting ready to have her baby (who was actually born on my birthday!) and she was telling me about a dream she had about us flying in an old fashioned plane through pink cotton candy clouds (that smelled like baby soap, haha!) and seeing a huge rainbow in the sky. She told me how it was one of the happiest dreams she had ever had, I was just glad that I got to be in it 🙂 I have had a spot in my heart for rainbows ever since Eric and I were trying to have our first baby. One particular morning while we were trying to get pregnant, I saw a rainbow and it reminded me through that process that God was for me and not against me and that He had plans to give me joy and hope, and to eventually give us a baby. As Jodi was telling me her dream, I started to cry. Earlier in the week, I had a miscarriage. And by her sharing her dream of us flying in that silly little plane and seeing a rainbow, I felt like God was telling me that He STILL had plans to bring me joy; to give us another baby when the time was right. And I believe that God used Jodi’s story and friendship to minister to me greatly that night. We both had a good cry, prayer and a hug (well, as good of a hug as you can get when Jodi was 8.5 months pregnant, haha!). To me, that is the essence of friendship; being able to share life’s silliest joys, to greatest heartaches, and everywhere else in between. That is just one example of a friend who I am blessed to call dear to my heart.
I guess the whole point of me writing this is….I have come to realize that God places people in our lives for a reason. Some of those people are only in our lives for a short time, no matter how badly we want their friendship to work out. I have prayed for relationships over the years, asking that God restore and renew them. Time after time, He has shown up in a way that only He can and answered that prayer for me. This past year even, one of my DEAREST friends and I from college reconnected after a long time of not talking to each other. It was so neat seeing God answer that prayer and bring our friendship to a place that, I believe, is better than it ever has been before. I can’t even begin to describe the joy it has brought to both of us! But there are other times that friendship is not restored….and the stupid thing is, I want it to be SO BADLY. No, no it’s not stupid, it’s how I feel in my heart. So I write this tonight with hope. Hope that if God wills certain relationships in my life to be restored, that He would do so in His perfect timing. Until then, I will be on my knees, anxiously awaiting what God is going to do in my life.
What a great post, I think as everyone gets older they go through very similar things. I am glad you wrote the post, even though I am sure it was hard to hit the publish button!
I meant to post on this last week, sorry! Your honesty in this post is beautiful! I know we've had conversations about friendships like this before, and God brings people into our life during different seasons. Never quite sure why he sometimes takes them back out, but I have to think it's his doing, not always ours! Love you Lauren, thanks for being a great friend!
Nicole A. says
Oh Lauren, I just love you! Friendships are a funny thing. One of my closest friends and I have drifted apart over the years – basically because of distance. But it's so strange to me that she has two babies now who I've never even met. This is a friend who I'd imagined playing a huge role in my life even as an adult, but things change. And it's hard to let go of the fact that drifting apart was no single person's fault.
And then there's Ashley. We've lived apart more than we've lived in the same city but we talk and text often and can pick up a conversation like no time ever passed. She's still my best friend in the world.
And there's our friendship, which is one that is SO odd! We haven't spent all that much time together, but I truly think of you as a good friend! I think that you're the wonderful kind of person who draws people to you and makes them want to be friends with you. You're so full of light and positivity! Who wouldn't want to be friends with you?! And if people take advantage and don't value that, as hard as it may be for you, you have to do what's best for your well-being. You deserve better.
OH – and I've seen antidepressants work miracles. From true medical problems to one friend who literally could not get out of bed. There's nothing to feel ashamed about. Seeing that you need help and seeking that help is the furthest thing from "weak and pathetic."