27 May A friend for life
by Laurie Green
Considering the theme “friends for life,” I spent weeks thinking about who to write about. I have so many different people to mention, but to do so with one could possibly leave out another and so on. That left me thinking a little too much, which in turn allowed my procrastination to kick in. Ultimately, I decided to just wait and see what God would reveal to me (which is typically on the day of my deadline, lol); however, with patience and/or procrastination comes revelation and I know exactly who the friend for life is that I want to write about.
I’ve not always treated this girl with the respect she has deserved. In fact, I would probably dare say my attitude and actions toward her for the most part were cruel and borderline abusive. The thing is, we’ve been together for as long as I can remember. In our youth, we were so full of big dreams and hopes for the future. We’d spend countless hours sitting outside on an old swing set in the yard and talk about how when we grew up, we would be a world-famous singer. We’d swing and perform endless concerts to an audience of no one but the angels in the sky and we couldn’t wait to see what the future had in store. Then came those awkward pre-teen years when everything started to change. Long gone were those innocent days of swinging, sky singing and dreaming. Those were things for little kids and we were well on our way to adulthood…or so we thought.
We suddenly found ourselves aware of everyone and everything and it became so easy to criticize every detail about my friend. Her hair was too big; she didn’t wear enough makeup and then too much. She gained weight, her clothes weren’t in fashion and she wasn’t nearly as confident as she should be. How was she ever going to make it if she couldn’t get these basic things about herself under control?
I wasn’t trying to be mean; it was just that she had to get herself together if she wanted to be popular or even halfway cool. I honestly never realized how all these little critical things I would constantly point out to her would carry into her adulthood. She unfortunately became someone whose only identity was found in what others said or thought about her. Trust me when I say with the wrong circle of influence around, this was a bad situation. I never could find the proper tools to dig us out of the pit of rejection that I had dug for us, but guess what? Jesus did!
Finding a relationship with Jesus changed EVERYTHING! I’m not talking about religion, but a true relationship with the creator of the universe. I’ll admit, I was afraid about the way I had basically torn down and destroyed this important friend in my life and I wasn’t sure I knew how to fix all the years of abuse, but God was the answer to every question and the solution to every problem.
You see, this “friend” I mistreated for so many years was myself.
What got me thinking about all of this was my mom recently gifted me and my siblings with boxes of photos from our childhood. It has been so much fun looking through all the moments captured in time, but I couldn’t help but look at some of those photos and remember how insecure and unhappy I felt. I was seriously my biggest critic growing up. Isn’t it funny how you can look back at old high school photos and realize you weren’t nearly as “fat” as you thought you were? Back in the day, photos weren’t cropped or edited. What you saw is what you got, be it good or bad.
It would have been nice if my future self could have somehow told the younger and unappreciated version of me that she is beautiful, fearfully and wonderfully made, and that other’s opinions or criticisms do not change that. I think it meant so much more learning my blessed identity in Jesus exactly the way it all played out.
The more I saturate myself in the promises of God, the more I have learned to love myself and be happy with who I was created to be. The reason I wanted to share this is because I feel like some of us still are our worst critics. We are so busy tearing ourselves down that we completely miss the opportunity to use our experiences to build others up. People need to see the goodness and the grace of God smack dab in the middle of our chaos. Jesus will never waste a hurt. “In God’s hands intended evil becomes eventual good.” – Max Lucado
While it’s impossible to go back and warn myself of too much blue eyeshadow, bad hairstyles, fashion choices and self-esteem issues, I feel honored for each day that God allows me to be a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sibling and most importantly, a friend for life to myself and others.