It’s been a rough season for me in the friendship arena.
I’ve felt rejected, disappointed, deserted and excluded. I’ve been certain that nobody likes me, nobody cares and if I were a couple decades younger I might just finish that little chant with, “I guess I’ll just eat worms.”
And speaking of younger days, I have definitely experienced a few flashbacks to those middle school years. The ones where I desperately wanted the cool girls to like me. Not because they were popular, but because I genuinely liked them. And, maybe just a little bit, because they were popular.
But they didn’t – or they didn’t for long. And that’s been a little bit how I’ve felt recently.
I don’t know about you, but when I struggle with friendship and community, it’s way too easy for me to move from thinking sad thoughts about the situation to thinking sad thoughts about myself.
If I were cooler, they’d like me.
If I shopped here or worked out there, they’d invite me to the party.
If I wasn’t such a dork, they’d want to hang out with me.
If I were thinner…
If I didn’t make so many stupid jokes…
If I had more time or more money…
If I weren’t so ME…
To be clear – these are actual thoughts I’ve had THIS YEAR. I’m not reminiscing about the awkward years of adolescence. Nope. I’ve actually let those words enter my 35-year-old brain.
Thankfully, I’m twenty years past letting those thoughts get too comfortable in my brain and my heart. They might make their way in, but it’s not like I’m throwing open the door and offering them a warm beverage and my favorite spot on the couch.
Even though I’m pretty sure the Age of Doubt can exist at any chronological age, I’ve learned over the years to call these thoughts (and the ones I don’t dare to “type out loud”) what they are: LIES. And then I replace them with truth – and Truth.
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love.
– 1 John 4:16a, NLT
For example, when I think about the first night of our new small group this summer and remember how mortifying it was to have ordered eight pizzas – only to have NOBODY show up? I remind myself of the many times – some even recently! – that we’ve had so many friends come over to our house that we run out of chairs and end up using coolers and piano benches for seating.
Or when I start thinking that my lack of friends or hurt from friends is a result of my inability to measure up (I’m not fun enough, crafty enough, athletic enough, thin enough, trendy enough), I open up God’s Word for a dose of reality and a reminder of who – and Whose – I am.
What do you do when you’re hurt by friends? Do you slip back into self-blame and assumptions that it will never get better? Maybe you’ve been disappointed by friends like I have. And maybe it’s hard for you to think of situations with more positive results, either because they truly haven’t happened or because you’re still too hurt to redirect your thoughts that way.
Maybe you need to replace your LIES with some TRUTH as much as I do? Let’s give it a try:
But now, O Jacob, listen to the Lord who created you.
O Israel, the one who formed you says,
“Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you.
I have called you by name; you are mine.
When you go through deep waters,
I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty,
you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression,
you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.
For I am the Lord, your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I gave Egypt as a ransom for your freedom;
I gave Ethiopia and Seba in your place.
Others were given in exchange for you.
I traded their lives for yours
because you are precious to me.
You are honored, and I love you.”
– Isaiah 43:1-4, NLT
See? You are enough. WE are enough. You are loved. WE are loved. The mighty God of this universe would do anything for you, for us – and He has. I love the way The Message ends that passage: “That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”
Amen, and let’s not forget it again! And when we do (because, let’s be real here…it’s probably going to happen again), let’s point each other straight back to the Truth. We can’t let each other sit in fear and doubt and insecurity, half-truths and pretty lies. We must be a community that points, pushes, drags each other to Truth.
Let’s not dwell in the lies any longer, friends. Let’s run, not walk, do not pass go back to the Truth. I’ll meet you there.
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What truth to you need to hear or share today?