Posts Tagged ‘friends’

Once upon a time there was a girl. She lived in a world where people were supposed to be different. They were supposed to be nice to one another and care about one another so that other people on the outside might look in and say “Aren’t they nice? I want to be like them!”

She lived with a group of people. Sometimes they asked how she was. Sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes they invited her to play with them or to eat with them, but sometimes they didn’t. Sometimes she would walk in and find them all playing together and no one had invited her. Or they would talk to the others around her and ask them about their lives and not ask her. It was like they would pretend that she wasn’t there. Some days no one would speak to her at all.

At first, it seemed accidental. I mean, you can’t always ask how everyone is can you? And you can’t always ask everyone to eat with you, can you? And you certainly can’t play with everyone all the time. But life got harder on the outside, and it seemed like no one cared. It seemed like the girl had become invisible. And the less that people played with her, the less people seemed to want to play with her, or ask her over for dinner. Or even ask her name.

Invisibility can sometimes be a gift. It can be a good hiding place,  helpful to quietly achieve things in the shadowy background. But sometimes it can be horrible. It made the girl feel like there was something wrong with her, but she didn’t know what that was. It made her feel like she had no value at all, and that there was no point in her even opening her mouth, because no one would listen anyway.

Sometimes it made her angry because no one cared. She knew that they should. Sometimes it just made her sad. Sometimes it made her wish that she was part of another world entirely, because at least then she wouldn’t expect people to care.

And that was when things unravelled. The patterns and habits of the past came back and behaviour and lifestyle changed. Because there was little point in acting like things had changed when no one else seemed to. Self-harm became a temptation – I mean, why not have something concrete that was actually wrong with her?

But then there was hope. Other people said they same thing, and decided to be nice to each other and play together with her and make sure that everyone and anyone was welcome to join in. They ate together, and it became the start of a beautiful friendship. Gradually, other people joined their group and no one felt that they were on the edges. Even those who had ignored her before decided that they had made a mistake and actually she was smart and funny and nice. And other people wanted to be like her.

THE END

Like it or not, God calls us to be in community with one another. We are also called to love our neighbour, whoever that might be. Are there any invisible people in your life, that would appreciate being cherished and valued for who they are? Do you ever feel invisible?

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law […] Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 5:22, 6:2).

Just imagine a world where that really happened. Somehow, I don’t think people would be invisible then, would they?

words fail

Posted: January 9, 2013 in Oh dear
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A few days ago I had a phonecall from a friend to say an old housemate of mine, a good friend had died. We had known she had cancer, and that things were deteriorating, but she was only just 26 and somehow, we were hoping in something. It was a shock, but not a surprise.

It is just generally rubbish. Sometimes there is nothing to say. Things don’t happen as they should. L shouldn’t have died.

Another friend reminded me yesterday that no one should die. None of this is God’s plan. But I’m not sure that is helping right now.

There are no glib answers to this. I can only imagine what her parents and brother and boyfriend are going through, have been going through and will go through in the weeks, months and years to come. And pray, not only for them, but also that God’s kingdom may come and put an end to this. Soon.

Today I shared my testimony with a fairly large group of friends. For the first time in a big group setting, it was unedited, uncut and unabridged. What really happened. Even the bits that are really quite embarrassing or simply just painful.

I felt as if I was laying myself bare. I’m quite happy to share my testimony normally, unless I don’t want to make myself too vulnerable with someone (mostly a pride issue with people I don’t like or don’t trust), but I haven’t really had the courage to share the story of abuse with many people.

Someone warned me afterwards to make sure I didn’t always share to that depth as it could leave me very vulnerable. But then it had been my decision to share what I did, and I don’t think I regret it.

Somehow I want to be able to be vulnerable to people, but work out how to do it without being hurt in the process. Being as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves is coming to mind, in the words of Jesus to his disciples. Something to think about, anyway.

a green eyed monster

Posted: November 15, 2012 in body stuff, Fear
Tags: , , , , , ,

I have a friend who seems to have it all. A husband. A house. A baby. She’s totally gorgeous, even remaining radiant throughout pregnancy. She gets good grades. Everyone likes her.

Sometimes that hasn’t been enough for her. Sometimes she has wanted more. She has wanted the things that I have also wanted, and because people like her, often she has got them. Or so it seems.

Not only am I totally jealous, but also insecure about it. So, she is my friend. But because everyone likes her, it feels like everyone else is also in the friendship, in a kind of ten-in-the-bed way that pushes someone out. Somehow, that someone ends up being me.

Sometimes this makes me so angry. Sometimes I wonder what the friendship is really worth if it can be so easily pushed aside, or whether a friendship should be able to be more than one way. But that anger takes me to a dark place.

Yes. Sometimes, my friend could have treated me better, I’m not going to deny it. But then, and more often, I’m ready to admit, it is the state of my own heart that is the problem. Firstly, every time that I compare myself to my friend I’m completely ignoring my own place as a child of God, crafted in His image. And quite frankly, its not surprising that I don’t look beautiful if I’m thinking terrible thoughts. Secondly, I’m totally missing all the good things that are in me, that make me individual.

But even that isn’t enough. These are the cliches that apply to everyone. When our friendship is there, it is a GOOD thing, for both of us. Being under constant attack is undermining that, and also my relationship with everyone else at the same time. Rather than constantly worrying about who I am and whether people like me or not (as that is really what it boils down to) I need to focus on who God is and how I can be more like Jesus.

When my eyes are focussed on God, then, not only will the Attacker have failed in his mission to ruin a good friendship, but also he will have failed to separate me from the love of God. Bonus.

 

So, someone asked me earlier if I would be up for talking at their church youth group about some of my story and my issues, in the hope that it might help people see that self-harm, depression and self-image problems are widespread and not the elephant in the room that no one talks about.

And that then got me thinking – how do you think people should respond to self harm? Should it be an easy topic of conversation, or not? Should everyone know about it, or would that then encourage others to follow suit? How do you even go about telling someone that you have self-harmed?

Some of these have gone so wrong for me. I didn’t talk about it enough with one friend to the extent that she thought scissors would make a good birthday present. Others have been determined to fix things, or have told me how I should feel. But some have been brilliant.

So, I am interested to know – what has your experience been?

I’m just going to put it out there straightaway. I hate Mothers’ Day. Even the apostrophe in it seems out to get you.

I’m sure it is a great time to celebrate families, and give mothers flowers and just show a little appreciation for the fact that someone did change your nappies and clear up your sick for a good few years, before dealing with everything else you decided to put them through.

But what if you don’t have a mother? Or if yours has failed to keep up to the gold standard that society seems to demand? What if you don’t want to show your appreciation, because, it seems that changing nappies was a small price for them to pay for the damage that you feel took place instead?

One of the first Mothering Sundays that I can remember was when I was 8 or 9 or so, and somehow I had manage to wake up and completely forget what day it was. I just remember that she treated me as a criminal for the rest of the day. Just because I hadn’t said Happy Mothers’ Day. I hadn’t properly forgotten, but just failed to realise the significance of the day. And let’s just say, I never forgot again.

Things with my Mum never really got much better than that. I was always in trouble for something, or had always just done something wrong. As I grew older, I just spent more and more time in my room to escape.

But then I became a Christian, and started going to church. And then suddenly I was part of a bigger family. It might be a family that fails sometimes, but they seem to be headed more in the right direction, by aiming to follow Jesus in all that they do. So rather than concentrating on the failure of a relationship which seems to create hurt whatever I do, I want to pay tribute to all the women who have “mothered” me in the Christian sense over the past few years.

First there was M. She was lovely, and had three kids of her own who were also lovely. She helped me to see the good parts in life, and helped me to cry about the bad things.

Then there was D. She helped me to recognise that we can move on from being in a mess to the life Jesus brings to us.

A helped me by simply understanding me. And allowing me to be the person I am, without criticism. She helped me to see how good a family could be, and taught me to relax and be less hard on myself. And promised me that there was always a bed for me if I needed it.

Then we had another A, who totally opened her home to me, and told me that I was always welcome.

L offered me some of the best advice around, helping me to address the problems I have.

J allowed me to be a broken person, reminding me that God loves me still even when I mess things up. And helping me to win the battles deep inside of me, encouraging me to want to get better.

So, thank you God for putting these women in my path over the last few years. I’m so grateful to all of them, and would gladly take any for my mother. It is amazing how we can become family to one another, and I pray that one day, I might be able to help someone else just as these ladies have helped me.

 

Sometimes when I feel particularly insignificant, I wonder whether it really matters if I self-harm or not. I mean, who really cares if I have a few more cuts and bruises than normal? Yes, it hurts, but does that mean anything to anyone except for me?

I think I am in a slightly unique yet all-too-common situation of feeling like I am all alone. My parents don’t really get me, and sometimes my friends just feel too far away, or they don’t really know what is going on. Sometimes, it feels like I don’t really even have any friends.

I guess the standard answer to this is that God is always there, and He cares. Trite, yet true. But for me, it is because God is always there, and because He cares that other people care as well. The people I go to when I am in trouble or when I feel like I might do something that I will later regret do seem to care for some reason. I’m not entirely sure why, but I think it might be because they love God themselves. They know that it is not His plan that I am hurting, and they seek to do all they can to help me not hurt.

I think it is also unhelpful to think that I don’t have any friends. Because I do. They might not be the stereotype you often see others with or in films where you spend all your time together and tell each other all your secrets and walk along arm in arm. But they are still my friends, and they would be hurt to know that I don’t consider them to be a friend.

So there are people who care on some level or other. And even when I feel like I just don’t care anymore and that I just want to hurt anyway, I know that I can’t lie to them. They care about me enough that they want me to get better and not just to stop hurting myself. They are wise enough to realise that they cannot show that they are disappointed if I do harm myself despite their best efforts, or to feel that it is in any way their fault that I have hurt myself.

And I think that that is what makes me contact them if I am feeling low. Somehow it is far easier to say something before than afterwards having to own up. Even if they can’t help. And getting a response from them makes me realise that someone does know and does care. Which is a constant reminder that God knows, and God cares.