I am a woman (did I just use that word in reference to myself?!) who is idealistic and romantic, very aware of my own emotions, and incredibly focused on relationship. Relationship with family, with friends, with fellow believers, and thankfully with God. I started this post in reaction to this general sense of gratitude and well-being I’ve been feeling lately, directly in relation to the beautiful relationships I find myself enjoying right now. In this moment, I feel so blessed.
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t strongly value family and friends. As a girl growing up, I longed for the type of friendships you read about in books like Nancy Drew (my all-time favorite series of books at the time). Not only did I long for them, I sought them out. When things weren’t going well with family, I would ask my parents why and I would ask them why we weren’t close to them. I had this deep ache to be part of a close-knit family and to have intimate friendships. I also really wanted a sister or brother; I used to wish for one all the time.
Thankfully, as I grew older, I found that God had granted my wish but not in the conventional way. I grew up with two cousins that were as close to siblings as I was going to get and later in life, my friends became sisters. I felt that God had answered my prayer; I felt blessed.
So, I prayed for those friends and family. I prayed for those relationships and I thanked God fervently for them. But somehow, everything changed and it all seemed to happen at once. About a year ago, I sat in one of the upstairs rooms in our church and cried my heart out because I was so overwhelmed by grief. I’ll share some of my journal entries from that time:
“I’m feeling so disheartened. My friendships are falling apart. My [extended] family is falling apart….Everything…well, not everything…but the things I value and give me value don’t seem to exist anymore. The relationships I’ve invested in, at least quite a few of them, barely remain in place…”
“…I looked at “A’s” facebook page today and it made me so sad. How have I gotten to this place I never thought I’d be. The relationships I valued and count on are gone. As a person who loves family and friends, I don’t have much of either. It’s an isolating feeling. I can’t believe how little I know of their lives…What can I do, Father, to have those relationships a part of my life again? I know you’re here for me always. But it hurts, Lord. It really hurts….Life is so busy that I often don’t have time to think about these things. But when things slow down and I’m all alone with my thoughts…my heart breaks all over again. I know you love me, Lord. I know you faced rejection on the cross, Jesus. I know, Father, that we often hurt you by not maintaining our relationships with you. I guess I’m getting a small glimpse into what you experience. I’m sorry, Lord, for the times when I turn away from you or don’t invest time in our relationship. Help me, Father, to draw strength from you….”
I don’t mean to over-dramatize things. I still had friends and I still had family. However, it was a loss that somewhat felt like mourning and it lasted so long I wondered when I’d last experienced carefree joy.
Fast forward to today. Not everything has been resolved. But what’s miraculous is the clarity of answered prayer. Friendships I thought were lost are being renovated and rebuilt into something stronger and something purer – “refined by fire” as the song goes. In addition, God has forged new relationships for me that enrich me, encourage me, and are part of his purpose for me.
I mentioned a struggle in an earlier post. During that week and since then, I felt convicted with a deep sense of appreciation not only for the relationships in my life but also the quality of those relationships. Why? Because, I am surrounded by people who could understand and accept me (not an easy thing when it takes me so long to fully be myself with people – the nature of an introvert). Add to that blessing the fact that they are wise people who have a relationship with God. Like I said, I am blessed.
I continue to pray over those relationships that remain where they were during that very painful period. It still saddens me but I plug on in prayer, I do my best to be what God wants me to be, and I hope that they too will be restored in a way that glorifies the grace and healing power of God.