I just need to get some things off my chest, so I'm posting here - because I feel like sharing it with the bloggersphere...
I grew up attending church, going to Sunday School, VBS, Pioneer Club (our church's equivalent to Awanas, I believe), and any other church function that may have been happening. I went to a private Christian school and had quite a few friends that I enjoyed spending time with. My next door neighbor who was only a few months younger than me was also my best friend. It was easy to be best friends with her when she lived right next door to me - we could see each other daily. As I went into 3rd grade, my parents decided to homeschool me and my siblings. I was so excited about this! Seriously. I wanted desperately to be homeschooled.
The problems I didn't see coming with being homeschooled aren't very noteworthy. Truly, my parents kept me socialized through church activities and sports, etc. The worst was the "uncool"ness factor it brought on me with all of the kids my age. This happened gradually. It wasn't until middle school that I went from having quite a few friends to not having anybody (other than my next door neighbor). My "friends" didn't think I was as "mature" as them and I was too sheltered. As if middle school age wasn't hard enough on it's own.
It was a hard, awkward time. As I got into high school, my next door neighbor started dating and didn't want to hang out as often either. This wouldn't have been such a big deal except that I - of my own prerogative - had decided that I didn't want to date until I was ready to consider marriage. As an early high schooler - I was in no way ready for that. Times got harder for me. Friends grew scarcer.
Then God blessed me with some wonderful ladies I babysat for from church. They were youth group leaders and had little ones. They took me under their wing and loved on me and became my best friends. I enjoyed my time with them immensely. They loved me through my awkward years.
I should add in here that my dad and mom were awesome supports to me. They loved me, they listened to me, they cared more than anyone else. But, wanting a friend outside of my family was very hard for me.
As I (and my friends of past days) got older and (semi) matured in life and faith, I was able to re-establish friendships that had gone to the wayside. It was lovely to reconnect with these friends. I was (and still am) a bit hesitant to get too close to them. I don't see any reason to do that to myself. I am a genuine, real, loyal, passionate and devoted friend so keeping people at arm's length can be a bit of a challenge for me. Although, I've learned that sometimes it is necessary.
Life continued to happen. I became an aunt. I met the love of my life. I got married. One of the youth leader friends got busy in her life and wasn't around for many of these events. I love her still. I harbor no hard feelings towards her. I still talk to her every once in a while. The other youth leader friend stayed very close and connected to me. I vacationed with her and her family. I enjoyed my time with her and felt that we were becoming more and more on par with each other rather than her being my leader. She was my "bestie." When my dad died 6 months after I got married, I was crushed. She was right there - helping to hold me up. One day, I remember staying in bed and telling my husband I just couldn't get up. There was no point. He called my dear friend and she drove to my house, got me dressed and took me out for some therapy shopping. She truly was a gem. She blessed me in so many ways. She let God use her. It was beautiful.
Life continued to happen. I changed jobs. My husband and I got pregnant. I quit working. Other things happened in my extended family's life that I will not share as it's not mine to share - but life was stressful. It was good in a lot of ways, but it was stressful. My friend didn't understand how and why I wasn't making time for her and her kids. I would still see her - but it was infrequent. She had come over for dinner with her family one night and we went on a long walk and talked about our friendship being so valuable but life happens and we weren't able to make the time commitment that we used to be able to before I had a husband and a child. I recall her saying that if a relationship is important, you make time for it. I agree with that statement. However, I also believe that if a relationship is a good one, the time apart just makes the time together that much more sweet. It's precious. It's valuable. My marriage and my child are more valuable than any other friendship that could happen in this life. We left the conversation and I felt reconnected and like we were on the same page.
A few months later, I got an email from her saying that because I didn't have time for her and for her kids, she was done with our friendship. My heart broke. My heart still breaks over this. Her children, who are now teenagers, have been my babies throughout their lives. They were so important to me. They are so important to me. I still pray for them and for their mom.
My friend and I are now going on the 2nd year of not talking. Life continues to happen. I now have another child. My husband and my kids are invaluable to me. There is nobody else I'd rather spend time with than them. And yet, my heart still hurts. This friend who helped me in my awkward years, who helped me through my dad's passing, who celebrated with me in my pregnancy unfriended me on Facebook at the same time that she had messaged me saying we were no longer friends. I replied to her email and told her the door was always open on my end, but I understood. I understand that it's hard when dynamics change. Life changes. Life happens. Things can't stay the same. They never do. This friend and I have more mutual friends than probably most people do. I see them commenting on posts that she's tagged them in. I see her commenting on their posts. It hurts. It hurts more than it probably should. These are people that I remember her being friends with during our friendship - and none of them were as close as she and I. How could she shut the door on our bond and leave the door open to these friendships that don't mean as much??
Another thing that really gets me about this...this friend is a fellow believer. She is a Christian. I am a Christian. She (as a good friend should) has called me out on my crap in the past. She has helped me to realize where I was wrong and she did it with love. As I've continued to grow in my faith - I recall the verses about "as far as it depends on you, live at peace with all men." I've done what I can. And I feel no peace with her. It still hurts.
Just three weeks after my daughter was born, my mom and I were at the mall and we saw her and her beautiful daughter. Well, I saw them from the back as they walked by. If I had actually seen them first - I would've ran up and given them a hug and let them know how much I love them. They shunned me. As they walked arm and arm and side stepped me and my mom - glancing over their shoulders to see me. I felt like I was a "bad guy" and someone to be completely avoided. This is not the way I think God wants us to see each other. We are sisters in Christ. We will be in Heaven together. I will be thanking her for giving to the Lord because mine was a life that was changed because of her. So, it's weird to have someone avoid me so wholly.
Recently, I've been thinking about sending her a note and telling her what I love about her. I've made it a goal for this year to (at some point) write each of my friends on Facebook and tell them what I appreciate about them and let them know how loved they are. I would do this for her, but we aren't Facebook friends. So, I've thought about doing it the old fashioned way. The conundrum I run into as I consider this is that I love her very much, but I don't want to hurt over this. I don't want a letter back. I just want everything to be ok and I want her to feel blessed. I want her to know what a blessing she has been in my life. I want her to know that as my sister in Christ - we are good. Life is good. I love her.
I just felt the need to write this somewhere, so thanks, interwebs, for letting me share here.
And with that, here is the letter that I'd write to my friend:
I just wanted to send you a note and say thank you. Thank you for your friendship over the years. Thank you for letting God use you in my life on countless occasions. Growing up, I struggled in friendships and you befriended me. When I was planning my wedding and feeling overwhelmed, you helped me with my ever-growing to-do list and helped calm me down. When my dad passed away, you got me out of bed, made me dinner, and took me therapy shopping. You have blessed me greatly in so many ways. You are beautiful, funny, charismatic, an excellent cook, a mom who only wants the best for her kids, and are easy to talk to. I don't expect anything in return. I just want you to know that I pray for you. I thank God for you and I want to remember only the good things from our friendship (which are countless). I love you forever, my friend.