Something that I keep being asked is how it feels to be in a place of such vulnerability in sharing things on this virtual platform. Setting a stage for myself with endless rows of seats for an audience. An audience that I do not get to choose. My answer is easy; I do not think about it. That may sound reckless, or even grossly irresponsible but it is true. My calling to share my mountain top moments, the seasons of dark valleys and all of those in between I write because the LORD has asked me to. So I do not think about it as a performance, or something that is to be critiqued by the world (although I undeniably am aware that it is) but rather I am responding in obedience to what He has asked me to do. If that means that for every ten critics I will hear of one heart He has lifted, or for every one hundred ‘dislikes’, the LORD will have used a story of mine as testimony to His greatness- then I know my job is done. His job is done. I am just a vehicle for the message. Nothing more, nothing less. Is it the avenue I would have imagined? Absolutely not! So goes most things He has called me to.
But this story is different. I cannot believe I am writing it; even a fraction of it. I cannot believe it because it hurts. I cannot believe it because I know the chance that this person will read and recognize who it is for. Before I even began to imagine what it would look like at 9:54pm God clearly spoke to me and said, “Go write. Heal.” Healing is a beautiful process; but it is one that hurts. I equate it to breaking an arm. The break itself hurts, but oh the strengthening required after I find far worse. I imagine my cesarean sections and how sore I was post-op; that pain perils in comparison to what the first walk in the hallway felt like. Yet I see the necessity. Tonight, God revealed the necessity of this. That an open wound I have carried so long needs to heal, and I believe He is using this avenue to do so. I do not know the ‘how’, and I do not know the ‘what’, but if you are one of the chosen ones for the audience get cozy. If you’re a critic in the crowd, go easy on this one please.
I have been so thankful that the LORD was so generous to me, far before I was anything close to grateful for Him. All He wanted was a relationship with me and I couldn’t have been running farther in the other direction. One way He kept me covered was in friendship. I have a previous post including more about this; but this one is specific.
I always had a fear of loosing people. I did not know that until I was closer to adulthood but retrospectively I was a runner. I was raised in an environment where you might wake up to your parent home, or you might not. You get a puppy one late night, and then when you come home from school your new found friend is gone. One day you are riding to school in the car your parent just brought home, and the next you are walking because your other parent stole and sold it. You may have a birthday party and keep your gifts, or you may wake up and your money has been stolen by your dad. Sometimes the dark meant it was bedtime. Others it was like an alarm signaling you to get dressed and get in the car because it was time to go find your dad. You would sleep in the back of a grand prix for hours until he was ‘caught’. It was an environment that was not only unhealthy, but it was inconsistent.
I learned very early that everyone left, and at any moment anything could be taken away. Hold things loosely, because the second you get too attached the break away seemed to hurt more each time- not less like one would think. I say that with certainty because there is a hole in my heart that remains as empty today as it did the day it was made almost thirteen years ago. When I ran from the best friend I ever made.
God never short changed me in the friend department. Ever. I consider myself the luckiest person alive to have the community I do. I want to be clear in that because I treasure each and every one of my friends and would never want to be hurtful in thinking that they are ‘not enough’ because believe me; you are ALL more than enough.
I was fifteen when I met this friend. She was the funniest person I had ever met. She was so beautiful, but it was not solely external. It was her heart. The way I could see her heart on the outside of her because she literally wore her love externally. She couldn’t help but share it. She was smart, so kind, and the most loyal person I’d grown to know. I cannot start with the list of memories we made over the coming years; and if I did some might be incriminating. But they are my memories and I love them. I never had a friend who I felt loved me in the way she did. We were nearly inseparable from the time we met. She had many other friends too, as did I. In fact many were mutual. But we traveled together, we ‘’did life’ together and I thought we would forever.
As the seasons changed, the school dances came and went, another cheerleading season ended, and school years passed talk of college came. It became more than just a whisper. It was an imminent event; she was going to leave. I will never forget the day I realized that. How hard I cried wondering why I would have EVER chose a friend that was older than me. Why would SHE choose me? Only to know that like everyone else she would go to college and forget every trace of me. I was so angry. I was angry about everything, but most angry with myself. I did not even realize it but I had become closer to someone in a matter of a few years than people I had known nearly my entire life. I never once even considered what my life would look like without her in it. Once I did, I did what I did best. Ran.
I intentionally tried to stop spending time with her. I intentionally started rekindling friendships with people I knew would be there. I started choosing to drink more often, and think less often. This is what I did. In all of my wisdom of seventeen years old. The saddest part of this, is that I did not even have a clue that I was doing that. I was living in the defensive, self-preserving place I learned so young. Responding as an eight year old in a seventeen year olds’ body.
I was equating her to people that she was not. I was placing expectations, and feelings of failure on her that she never deserved. And I can assure you the pain she felt in investing in me so heavily to only be treated so poorly was something she never deserved. Ever.
She did leave. She went on to college with many people I knew. I would always try and ask others how she was, who she was dating, and what she was doing. I stayed up to date with her majors and even celebrated her graduating from my kitchen table. Both times!
It seems so simple to onlookers I am sure, and the question begged to be asked is, “why didn’t you just call her? Why didn’t you say you were sorry?” The truth is, I did. I called her one time. I did not have her cell phone number anymore (that was part of the purge; remove all evidence of what could potentially make you remember the hurt) so I called her at her parents house. I knew she was home from college. As I tried to start a conversation I could hear in her voice the disgust. The hurt. That the sound of my voice was one that she was not expecting, and did not want to hear. I folded like a house of cards and politely excused myself. Ran.
Several years later, we did become Facebook friends. I was able to see what her post college life looked like and it represented everything that she was. A life that included a boyfriend who clearly adored her, a career, a big city, travel, and so many smiles. It included the faces of people that I once called friends too that were not as weak as me; friends that stayed. People that knew the value in friendships in a way far earlier than I did. People that got the privilege to still ‘do life’ with her in the present, versus mine that was only made of memories from the past. I saw her get married behind my iPhone screen, I even saw her get the opportunity to be a mama! She wanted that so desperately and I earnestly prayed to our God she would get that chance. The name she chose; let’s just say I clearly have the same love for it.
I know she felt like the most blessed person to be that tiny angels mama (and is she ever!) but I saw that tiny girl to be the lucky one. For the heart I referenced earlier that I got to see on the outside, that baby girl got to hear from the inside. What a gift.
So what has held me back this far. I was told by someone who I consider to be incredibly wise, that often times when we ask for forgiveness its self-serving. It is to make a peace within ourselves that the other person has probably long forgot. That the open wound you carry likely now takes shape of a scar for them. I could be completely arrogant in thinking that she was so hurt by me. That the ending of our friendship was not as significant to her as is was to me. Yet I just cannot bring myself to honestly believe that. Yet I know what it felt like to hurt her so terribly once, that the idea of hurting her twice by bringing that to light brings the tears that are falling with these keystrokes. I have prayed that the LORD would give me an opportunity to apologize. That I would be prompted to be able to contact her now and tell her all that I have wanted to say for thirteen years. That I know I cannot go back and undo the harm, but I can commit to a different level moving forward. Yet I have never been given the peace to do so; so I haven’t.
We have had small, cordial conversation due to social media and I am so thankful for those. Even for the one word responses. I have even just typed “I miss you” and not sent it, wondering if it somehow would make it to her heart. Her world is so full of love and life, and she hands it right back. I give such thanks to God for providing for and loving her in such a way that she knows who she is, and where she stands. For providing her with the husband she deserves, a family that I love so dearly, and friends that stand beside her so strongly.
I do not know if this will ever make it to her. If she will ever see the words I have written. If she would know they were for her. I would give anything to have the chance to say I am so sorry. I am so sorry for being so fearful. For accusing you of being like anyone else other than yourself; because that is an insult. Every time I “like” or “love” a post of yours I do it with all of my heart. Truly, when I see you happy, it makes me so happy. I would be lying if I said I did not become envious on so many occasions when I see pictures of you and I am not there, because I remember a time when I was; a time long ago. That although you saw me as a runner, I’ve become quite talented in the art of staying. But please know that although I may not be in those pictures, or seated at your graduation, attending your sweet baby girls baptism, or there for your house warming party that I celebrate you. I pray for you always; and although not beside you I carry you with me in that ‘you-shaped’ hole that hasn’t seemed to be filled in my heart.
Maybe I will get the chance to feel your friendship again. It was not today, but maybe someday. I have waited thirteen years, and if I waited thirteen more it would be worth the wait.
All my love.