I’ve been feeling super nostalgic lately. I listened to a podcast where the dude mentioned how you never forget your friends from high school days, and it set me thinking about friendships. Friendship and I traversed some pretty rocky terrain when I was a kid. My best friend from Kindergarten moved to Australia. My best friend from my very first day at school took off to Picton with her family several months after we established our BFF status. And then my very best friend at church had another BFF – it was a very awkward friendship triangle, and I always felt like the second best friend.
After my school buddy left, I found it really hard to find new close buddies for a number of years, right up until the last year of primary school, in fact. I remember wandering around the the playground by myself and asking people if I could play with them. I remember joining in other kids’ groups for a bit, but never feeling like I was part of it. I distinctly recall finally making a friend in one class, and then having to be moved to a new classroom halfway through the year because the school was growing too much. The said friend addressed me with her new cohort and informed me that, sadly, I couldn’t be her friend anymore because we weren’t in the same class.
These experiences obviously didn’t injure my quirkiness at all. I remember convincing a bunch of kids that if we wrapped certain dead flower pods in our discarded plastic lunch wrap, that they would most certainly turn into gold. I actually had a certain Narnian kind of belief that this could happen. Another game I distinctly remember having created was one called, “Handicapped-four eyes-geeky-express.” I can’t remember exactly what that one was about, but I know it involved a lot of sitting in trees and answering the ‘phone’. Undoubtedly the most destructive/dangerous was ‘The Bee Clinic’. It was as it sounds…we would stand on bees, and then ‘fix’ them in the clinic. I told everyone that when the white stuff came out of its tail, it was all healed. For all you bee lovers out there, I’m so sorry.
The funny thing is that in recent years I have gone back and read my primary school reports, and during that one particular year I was made to transition classrooms, the teacher wrote something like this, “Deborah is a natural leader, she organises people and they follow.” That is not at ALL how I remember that time in my life, but my perspective was obviously somewhat coloured by my friendship experiences. I think that perspective still clouds my perception of my friendships. I have since gone on to have many dear and close friends. As well as a lot of counselling and prayer and journeying. I can write about childhood friendships and no longer feel the sting I once did. But I do still often feel a mild feeling of detachment in the atmosphere when I’m around friends. I feel very slightly suspicious that they perhaps don’t like me as much as I like them. I’m almost subconsciously waiting for them to go hang out with their number one BFF.
None of these irrational thoughts bear any resemblance to real life happenings. My friends are gracious and amazing! It’s the echoes from an earlier time whispering to the present. I’m convinced it won’t always be like this, mostly because I’m aware of it and don’t like to stay stagnant. However, it got me thinking about the way I view friendship, and that atmosphere of detachment is a selfish one. It’s self-protective. It’s trying to keep me safe from potential heartbreak. And it’s introspective.
My view of friendship needs to make the essential shift from one where I’m primarily concerned with receiving, to one where my priority is giving. I have lately been praying the prayer of St Francis, so I’ll leave it here, because it does a better job of explaining what needs to happen than I ever could.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.
P.s. Wanna be my friend?