Last night I was sitting with a group of friends that over this past year and half I have grown to know and love and have the honor of calling “friends.” As we laughed and talked and shared life together…I realized that for the first time in a very long time I have healthy friendships!
I have friendships where I am safe to laugh and cry and share my heart and my fears and joys and dreams and every single one of those things are either shared, calmed or supported! How incredibly blessed am I? THIS is what it means to “do life together.”
You see for years I was in the “fixing” game. Not really by conscious choice, but it just seemed that I got sucked in to helping everyone else and not ever having the opportunity to have time for me. Then about a year and half ago I heard a very wise man say “Rescuers attract victims, and Mentors attract survivors” who do you want to be? Wow, wow, WOW!!! This statement while seemingly so simple took me a while to process, to understand exactly what it meant and what it looked like.
I began to take stock of all of my friendships and realized that the people that completely sucked the life out of me without ever giving back and when I was emotionally finished moved on to others they could latch onto for similar purposes….far outweighed the friendships that I truly enjoyed. The ones I truly enjoyed were full of laughter and some tears, there were times of struggle, but struggles were shared and when I was there for them, they turned around and were there for me right back. These same people enrich my life and make me want to pursue my hopes and dreams knowing that we are going to realize our dreams together. They pursue my heart, and I get to pursue theirs right back. They are not in the friendship to see what emotional baggage they can unload on me before moving on, rather we bear each others burdens.
So after taking stock of this…I made a silent decision and began to edge out those who were simply victims of life. Those who chose to wallow in their self pity and did not do anything recommended to them to get out of their present circumstance no longer were going to get a place in my life. No more late night phone calls to cry to me about all the things they were “struggling” with only to in the same breath explain why it was they were not going to do anything to change their current situation. No more dragging their dead weight along; trying my best to believe in them when they were choosing not believe in themselves.
This decision was not easy and meant having to say ‘we can’t be friends anymore’ to several people in my life.
I, of course, was called all sorts of things for this, selfish, self righteous, judgmental and legalistic…all of the words that they knew would wound were the ones they chose to use. I was blamed for our friendship being the way it was and in one case even told that we weren’t as close as I thought we were. (Funny how close we were every time this person needed me in the middle of a crisis.) I only wish they understood the pain it took to purge them from my life. Recently a couple have tried to come back, and within the first phone call were already right back to being victims. To you I say…um, No thank you!
Unfortunately for me, this process is not over yet. I have a couple of others that are proving to walk the victim road. They call only when they need something, and are not there when I in turn might need them. There is never a time where in we can celebrate life together because they are too busy wallowing in why they are victims of circumstances that they can control. Choosing to not be there for them is hard for me. Instinct wants too, but wisdom finally outweighs that, knowing that neither they nor I will be better for my intervening once again. When they choose to change their life circumstance by making the decisions they know to be right and begin to walk as survivors rather than victims….I will happily call them friend again. However, I am not sure that time will ever come, and when it does I will no longer be needed.
This past year, on more than one occasion I also heard something that I have found too be true…you are most like the 5 people with whom you choose to surround yourself. These words are so so so true. I once walked as a victim of circumstances I could control. I chose to stare in the face of wisdom and make the choices I knew in my heart to be wrong.
However, I decided with God’s help to change that status quo…I AM a survivor. I, like everyone else I know, have suffered hurtful words, cruelty at the hands of those who should love me most, I’ve had disagreements with family, and have had broken relationships, I have made choices that were wrong and have suffered the consequences for them even when I did not feel it was “fair”. In the midst of that, I choose to hold my head up with pride, put on a smile, ask for help when I struggle with sadness and feelings that overwhelm… and then take that help and follow the recommendations made for healing. I choose to forgive those that have hurt me most, including myself, rather than fall victim to bitterness that only consumes and harms the one harboring it.
I want to surround myself with these same people. I want to be surrounded by mentally stable, loving, God fearing people who have dreams, who pursue those dreams passionately, who know that is perfectly ok to not be ok, but it is not ok to stay there. As I looked around the table last night, I saw those people. I saw people who loved themselves, not in a prideful way, but in a healthy one….they loved themselves enough to in turn share that love with me. We laughed about silly things and were comfortable in each other’s presence. Tonight, we will all head over to the Village Church, the place we have the joy of calling “home”. We will have the honor of worshiping together the great God and King who sacrificed so that we might have this amazing life. I look forward to however long God gives me to doing life with these people. They are my mentors and I want to be theirs in return.