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.
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
I feel that God Is working on healing the deep things in me, an ongoing perhaps lifelong process, and that now His Love is gradually enlarging my heart.
Whenever I see a new ‘follower’, or one of you liking my posts, my heart is touched to know that He Is using the painful things in my life, and turning them around, to hopefully encourage, inspire or help other people.
His Love Is at work in my heart and I am seeing this less as a part in my healing journey and more so in feeling somewhat awed to know that there are people, real people, you in this same country, and you on the other side of the world who might have their burdens eased a bit in their day. And that means so much to me. Not just because of the significance of it in my personal journey, but because of God’s Pure Love at work in my heart.
Is it possible to love people I may never meet? Is it possible to care so much about your wellbeing from the other side of a computer? I think it is really beginning to mean much more to me. That’s what you mean to me. People precious to and loved by God, and so He Is pouring His Love for you into my heart.
It touches me to know that you might find some comfort from this little blog, and I will seek and pray for His will to show me how to be an encourager, how to care for those He loves, how to help you when you are down and how to be a friend, albeit behind a computer screen, when you feel alone or in need of some advice on moving forwards.
I write a lot about a lot of different things from creativity, lifestyle, mental health, depression, faith, anxiety, and encouragement to name a few things. I write a lot from experience, so it is authentic, raw and real. If there are any things you would like me to write more about that might help you, please do comment and let me know.
Everyone needs compassion, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you’ve come to the right place.
My love and prayers go out to each and every one of you. x