When someone hurts us, whether intentionally or not, we can go through a variety of emotions and responses.
We feel sad, and maybe we feel some anger, a sense of betrayal, of confusion, of loss. It can be easy to try to make sense of things in our minds, to deal with the way we’ve been treated, by putting the other person in a ‘box’ in the way we think of them.
Someone has hurt us and acted in a way that doesn’t seem right to us, and so we ‘deal’ with it by telling ourselves they are selfish, unkind, uncaring.
I’m processing some things just now, and I realise that’s not a mature way of looking at things or thinking about them. The reason we feel hurt is often because we cared a lot. Something mattered to us, it was important, it was valuable. If the person was all of those not so nice things, we probably wouldn’t have allowed them in our lives for so long.
People mess up, they muddle through life, and they hurt people along the way. You’ve hurt people and people have hurt you. And usually we feel the hurt because we care, because someone matters to us.
I think of The LORD Jesus suffering, fully Man feeling every human pain (and at the same time fully God), on the Cross and all the time His Arms outstretched in Love. True Love. In His suffering He was thinking of other people, He was loving people, He was concerned that Mary would not be without a son to look after her, and He was concerned for John, and so He in His anguish told John to take care of Mary. He was thinking of others. He was thinking of them. Of me. And of *you*, dear one.
Our natural fallen broken responses to hurt might be to clam up, to fold our arms around our chests rather than open them wide and expose our pulsating hearts. We have a choice to make. To protect ourselves or to love. It can be a tug of war sometimes, but Love is always greater than the hurt. Love overcomes all.
Jesus chose to Love me completely, He gave His life for me, so however I have been hurt or wronged, I choose to Love. x
I’ve been writing a lot about the autumn and winter seasons in my ‘Winter Survival Guide’ series (in which there is more to come, you’ll hopefully be pleased to hear, as a lot of you seem to be enjoying this). I’ve touched upon how the changing of the seasons can reflect aspects of our lives that in their time either fall away from us or we let go of.
One theme and aspect of life I’d like to write a little more about in this post, as it applies to my life right now, is that of Friendship.
Friendships teach us about ourselves:
Friendships come in different forms and at different times of our lives, for different seasons and reasons. Although I’ve entitled this post ‘Fair-weather Friends & Friends For Life…’, I know that life isn’t as straightforward as this proverbial dichotomy.
Friendships and our friends as well as ourselves can be complicated, intricate and not easy to define.
However, if we are present, we will always learn a lot from our friendships, including learning more about ourselves and how we relate to other people, although at times we may have ‘blind spots’ as regards the patterns of our own thinking and behaviours, and our friends will have their own ‘blind spots’ too.
An unknown journey:
I don’t entirely know what shape this post will end up taking, what ‘conclusions’ I will reach and have to share with you, and in a sense as we embark upon new friendships or relationships we also are exploring the unknown, unfamiliar, and inconclusive.
We share life with a range of people, and although people are far too unique and special to categorise, we do often clearly have ‘types’ of interactions. These may change over time, and we may become closer or more distant from people, and this is all part of the learning curve, as well as the ebb and flow of life.
In my life right now I can say that in terms of people in my life, I have my immediate family, close friends, friends who are not as close, acquaintances, people I interact with on a regular basis but might not know as well such as work colleagues, people who serve lunch in the canteen, the concierge in my building, and people who I see at work but don’t know by name. Some of these relationships overlap or change over time. For example, I have a couple of colleagues at work who are also close friends. I have worked with people who I once didn’t know but who I became friends with, who I now consider close and lifelong friends but who I no longer work with because they have changed jobs, retired (I have good friends of all different ages), or moved on to another stage of life, but who I keep in touch with, and they with me, and we love spending time together when we can. I have friends I hardly see, but who remain some of my closest friends, and we maintain a bond, and we contact as and when we can even if that’s not face to face. One of these friends has moved thousands of miles away to Cambodia, but we still consider each other to be close friends and love each other as ‘sisters’ and for the maybe ten years now she’s been living abroad we’ve managed to maintain a friendship even with her getting married and being in a different stage of life as me.
I have friends who I met when we shared a similar stage of life. I have friends who I met and we didn’t have all that much in common. I have friends who once shared a similar stage of life but now are in a completely different life stage. We have maintained our friendships, our bonds and although many of these friends have different circumstances to me, such as being married, becoming parents, having moved abroad, and so forth, or being of a different generation as I have friends that are the same age, older and younger, we still remain close and interested in each others lives as different as they are now.
This is both a blessing and a skill to nurture, invest in, grow and maintain good relationships and friendships. I have learned that not only am I blessed with good friends but I also am a great friend to have – someone who is loyal, kind, caring, compassionate, who will listen, who will give time and genuine care to others and who can organise some pretty awesome presents too 😉
The reason I speak of the above is because the distance we experience in friendships (growing apart, drifting apart, losing interest or losing touch) isn’t necessarily caused by a physical distance such as moving away, a distance in life stage, such as embarking upon a new season of life, or an emotional distance such as going through different things (true friends are there for each other through the tears and the joys of life).
As I mentioned previously, I have maintained close friendships with people who now live thousands of miles away. Because we care about each other.
I have close friends who like me are single and have our own places and work in the city and share our Faith.
Yet, I also have close friends who are in completely different life stages – they may be married, have kids, be retired, be atheist and have completely different beliefs, and who have completely different lifestyles.
We care about each other, we connect, and we make it work.
Distance is a choice, it is not a length of space or time:
Although our friendships with people may change over time, we may not be able to keep in as frequent contact as we once did, we may not know all the ins and outs of each others lives, we are still there for each other in the background. I’m thankful that even though friends may be thousands of miles away or we may be miles apart in terms of our life circumstances, I’m blessed that we’ve managed to stay close. I know it’s not as easy for everyone, and people make different efforts to stay in touch. Sometimes people let things drift, sometimes we do too, it can be part of the natural ebb and flow of life just as the changing of the seasons.
However, distance, I believe is a choice. When someone decides to cut us out of their lives that is a choice. There are people in our lives that are ‘toxic’ and it may be necessary to create distance or cut them out. But in this article, I’m not talking about such people who drag us down, I’m talking about genuine people, real friends, people like me and hopefully like you who build other people up.
What about when people cut us out? People to whom we were genuine friends?
One of the things friendship has taught me recently is that some seemingly genuine friends are actually ‘fair-weather’ friends. A certain person a few years ago sought out friendship with me, we were a blessing and encouragement in each others lives and I poured kindness and encouragement into this person’s life. I believed we had a genuine friendship, and although it was a real mutual blessing, I now realise that the person looked upon it in a ‘utilitarian’ way. Whereas some people need time and space as they go into new life stages, others choose to cut you out. That’s ok, but it brings about a real life lesson. As nice as they may be, the person was being utilitarian – it was a friendship that they valued so long as it suited them. When it no longer suits them, they drop you. We all move on, but some people can’t see their selfishness in how they treat people, as kind as they may be or seem, they are ultimately looking out for their needs to be met, and they consider their needs the most important thing.
Friends may seem genuine even for a number of years, but in due season, they prove to you what you perhaps had no idea about, that they are ‘fair-weather’ friends. They only want the friendship so long as it suits them. I know I’m a kind, loving, genuine person and have been told I have a high emotional intelligence, am good at giving people space as well as being a source of comfort and listening. If people ‘drop’ you and you’re such a friend, and in no ways are a ‘toxic’ person, then know that there is a life lesson for you – it is far better to have the realisation than to continue on, and be usedfor someone else’s convenience.
Learn the life lessons, let things go, and soar off into a beautiful future, nurturing, cherishing, and being a mutual blessing to your true, life-long, friends to whom distance in space or life stage doesn’t even factor in to whether or not you will care about and be there for each other.
Someday you may look back on the days you are living right now and wish that you had appreciated them so much more. But why wait for that someday when you can begin to more truly and fully appreciate life now, as you live it?
I had one of those ‘moments’ last week, it was after Church, which had been a Remembrance Sunday service, and I was taking a quiet walk through the park which is just opposite the Church, on my way home to the centre of the city, which I often do. The park is a lovely big park where you can wander around, there are trees, a duck pond, some statues / monuments of sorts, a large circular fountain, park benches, flower gardens, a play park area for children, at the far end there is a small ‘skate park’ for the teens, and you can walk uphill to the top of the park where you are granted a beautiful view over the city, including onto the old castle like building of one of the universities.
The trees in the park were ablaze with autumn colours, the air was crisp and cold, people were walking at a slower pace as they strolled together hand in hand, or walked their dogs. Others jogged, ran and sprinted past as fast as can be. Some lingered while sitting on benches, and children played, often pausing to inspect a leaf, or some other fascinating object at their eye level, or squealing with delight at a squirrel as it scampered by.
The day was blessed with sunlight, and as I wandered through the park, I decided not to head straight home, but to walk around it a couple of times, to stop and look and take it all in, to sit on a bench and enjoy the view overlooking the city, to really appreciate the beauty, the life, the colours around me. From time to time I listened to the birds, while at other points I put my headphones in and listened to worship music. It was blissful. A couple of people came up to me to exchange some small talk, and then went along their way.
I had a moment, while drinking in this beauty, where I realised that these were the moments of my life. The life I was living right then at that moment. These were the special ones that I would hopefully look back upon one day and think of with fondness, hopefully having enough presence of mind to remember them. I decided to pause and appreciate them, the moments, these ‘right now’ moments before moving on.
Maybe you have moments like that, enjoying the beautiful free gifts lavished upon us all. Yet, do you miss them? Do you let them flutter past you because your mind is occupied with what you don’t have? I am trying more and more to appreciate the present, and the good things in my life right now, even while I wonder about my unknown future, about hopes and dreams.
A week prior to this, I met up with a friend I hadn’t seen in about a year. We used to meet up with a couple of other single female friends and go out to dinner or meet for coffee, go to church together, and share life. A few years ago this friend met the love of her life, got married, moved further north in the country, and a year and a half ago had her first child, a baby boy. We caught up on life as much as we could over coffee and a fleeting visit. She remembered with nostalgia her carefree single days while living in the city. She loves her husband and baby, but there are things to adjust to, sleepless nights, responsibilities that she didn’t have before. While she was single, she longed for the things she has now, as many of us do, but when we met up, she was somewhat wistful, about the days she had left behind. Perhaps she even missed them, or aspects of them a bit.
Now, here I am, a single young lady living in the city, with my own place, a full time job and friends and interests of my own. I’ve worked hard over the past few years to recover from some tough health challenges and continue to work on it as it’s been a long road. Things are looking brighter however, and I enjoy pursuing my interests and dreams. However, I don’t know what the future holds. I would like to get married and have a family of my own and share that with the family I have now.
I know that many of you also think of the future, you wonder what will be, and your ‘wonderings’ will be different depending on what stage of life you are in and what your perspective and attitude is.
But wherever you find yourself, take time to really appreciate your life right now, or the things that you can. It may not be perfect, you may be going through a really difficult season, but don’t wish away the good things you have now, or fail to appreciate them because you are longing for something else or something more.
I have voyaged through light and shade in my journey through life. There have been seasons characterised by simplicity, seasons of tears and pain and despair of life, seasons of struggle, seasons of healing and now I am entering a season of hope. You will have your own experiences of light and shade in your own life. But take time to appreciate the days of your life right now, even if you are hoping for future blessings or change.
Single ladies, don’t mope and be miserable if you want to find the love of your life – enjoy the free time you have if you have it right now, take time to build up your skills, independence, interests, friendships, career, pursuits. Spend time with the people you love. I love spending time with my family, and talk to my parents every day on the phone because I live alone. I truly appreciate that blessing.
I have had seasons of poor health, and I choose to enjoy and appreciate the health I have now. The home, the friends, the job, the food, clothes, the travel, my blogging community, my church fellowship and family.
What are you taking for granted this winter season as you long for spring? What hopes and dreams do you have that you may be letting tinge your thinking with negativity because you don’t have them yet or don’t know if they will ever be fulfilled? What do you have in your life that someone else might be longing for? A home, a family, food on the table, friends?
There are so many things that we have right now in our lives to appreciate. Let’s take time to appreciate and enjoy them and be thankful for them. And right now, in this moment, I choose to be thankful for and appreciate – you! 🙂 x
Your life is unique, wonderful and perhaps at times ‘kaleidoscopic’. Like a snowflake, each of our lives are intricate, distinct and although in many ways similar, each is completely original and incomparable. We see the design, the pattern, the variety if we would but look at the snowflake up close. Our fingerprints are one of a kind, and like no other, even those of identical twins are completely unique and distinct from one another. The design, the form, the pattern and uniqueness of our DNA is another stamp of our uniqueness. You are one of a kind, irreplaceable, incomparable, uniquely, wonderfully, beautifully you, not to be compared with any other, and not to be replicated. One of a kind. That’s you.
So why, friends, do we too often feel that our unique and incomparable selves have to lead ‘picture perfect lives’ according to someone else’s or society’s designs?
We see the greeting cards in the shops at certain times of the year, and we watch the films that tell us how things ‘ought to be’ if our lives were our own ideal replicas of those portrayed to us in the media, airbrushed as they are.
How many Christmas and holiday films begin with two lonely hearts each seeking their own ways in life, making it through the holiday season and muddling through somehow, facing heartache only to finally find each other, fall in love, be whisked off into the romance of the season and live ‘happily ever after’, or at least until the end of the film?
How many pictures, postcards and greeting cards have designs on the front showing happy families gathered together, eating Christmas dinner and enjoying the glow of a warm fire, under the dazzling beauty of twinkling lights adorning a picture perfect Christmas tree? Everyone is happy, no one has fallen out with anyone else, there are no family feuds, rifts, or even fights over the remote control and arguments over who gets to choose which film to watch.
There are no pictures of single mothers struggling to decide how to manage their finances while at the same time providing a special experience for their children so that they don’t feel like they are missing out.
Where are the greeting cards that feature you, and me, in our unique, incomparable, kaleidoscopic, often broken yet beautiful lives?
Maybe you do have somewhat of a picture perfect greeting card life at the moment. You know you will have happy family times together, you have your ‘true love’ by your side, you have enough money to enjoy the season without worry, you’ll see your friends and enjoy good times together, you may even have a beautiful Christmas tree, and enjoy some snowy scenes while you stay wrapped up warm, cosy and loved inside.
But even if you do, it’s likely that it has not always been that way for you, and even if it has, there are no guarantees that your life will be ‘picture perfect’ in the future. And even if it is ‘picture perfect’ on the outside, I can almost guarantee that you, as unique as you are, also share in the common human frailties of stress, worry, anxiety, and self doubt.
Truth be told, none of our lives fit any of the designs that society often airbrushes and presents to us. You are unique, and so too is your life. So don’t fall prey to the ‘comparison trap’. Don’t feel like you are missing out on life simply because it is so far from ‘perfect’ for you right now, this year, even if what you are going through is really, really tough. There are lessons for you in even the darkest of seasons, and I know that I have had to go through some dark seasons I rather would not have, but we sometimes make them harder for ourselves by not embracing the uniqueness of our lives, our circumstances, the opportunities to rise up against the challenges, get stronger, grow and not keep wishing that we had what someone else had, or that our lives looked different.
It’s great to aspire to better things, to be a kinder person, with the kind of character you would want your children to have. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve your life circumstances either. But the thing is, the way your life is right now, is the way it is right now, and you have to start from a place of acceptance rather than wishing it away. Whether you are in a happy or sad season of life this winter time, live your life, not someone else’s idea of what your life should be, or your idea of what you wish it could be. You are here right now, and you have to make the most of what you are working with right now. Learn the lessons, embrace them, grow from them, and move forward. Be uniquely, wonderfully you, live your unique, wonderful and messy life, and don’t complain or grumble about where you find yourself, because you can’t make things better by dong that. Accept what is, and have faith in something Better, and do what you can as you take the next steps to live your best, unique, wonderful life – which is a gift, one of its kind, unique, and given to you. x