This morning I woke up with a raw emotional welt. It was one of those silly Facebook things. You tell yourself "I'm 37 not 12. It's no big deal. Whatever." But the truth is, that whether you are 4 or 40, when somebody doesn't want to be your friend anymore, it hurts.
And then I get to thinking, "Well, it figures. You aren't very good at friendship anyway. You never remember birthdays on time. You have never seemed to figure out giving little gifts. You don't shop with girlfriends. You hardly ever initiate. They always have to ask you out to things. You are no fun, actually. You have pretty much always sucked at being friends, really. It's no wonder..." And then, the logical conclusion (for perfectionists anyway) "If you suck at it, you shouldn't even try to do it."
In my healthier moments, I know that for me, while I may not express it the same way as other people, I deeply value my friends. The older I get, the more I realize how much richness they bring to my life and how cold and narrow things are without them. I also am deeply convinced that I cannot live out my faith without them. And while I am lousy with the obvious stuff, what I most want to give to my friends is the freedom to be themselves...the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am the biggest cheerleader for the ones I love to figure out what makes them tick and how to tick better.
But if this Lenten fast has taught me anything, it's just how vast my array of defense mechanisms are. This morning, I could feel myself retreating into myself. Wanting to hide. Second guessing everything. Hating myself. Wallowing in black and white thinking "If you could just change everything about yourself...yeah...that would be great." Mind-reading...you know that great game where you pick a person or two and tell yourself how they really see you.
All of these are ways of avoiding being present, vulnerable, and aware in a healthy way.
And then the mail was delivered. Really early today. Robb went out and got it and brought me a heavy package from a friend. She sent me....the beach.
I provided the salt-water.
We haven't talked or even interacted on Facebook in awhile. But we keep in touch as best we can as two busy pastors wives and moms. We've been friends for a long, long time. What she told me with her beautiful gift was that it's ok that I am me. Just as I believe with my whole heart that it's ok for her to be her. She reminded me today that it really is worth it to be friends. Even if you sometimes get hurt. It's worth it to connect. To understand. To laugh. To cry. To hold up a mirror for the other person that shows them they aren't ugly as they fear...but rather, in fact, delightful, unique, kind-hearted, and brave. I was feeling so badly this morning, but her gift made me step back and think of all the beautiful people who are my friends. They are such good people...such fun, thoughtful, wonderful people. If they are my friends, I must not suck as much as I fear I do.
Thank you, Friend. You did a beautiful thing.