Do you know that Superchic[k] song, "High School?" It's a great one. And so true. Especially in my life, apparently. I ask you, why do I attract the people who cannot handle adulthood and all that it implies? Only God could tell you. I seriously think it might just be part of His everlasting plan to teach me patience. Every time I think I've made some great strides in that area, someone or something else comes along and makes me realize that I am being entirely too self-congratulatory, treating my mole hill like Mt. Everest. I recently lost another friend. That makes two this year. This is not a good track record. My favorite part is that both of these friendships were abandoned because I dared to stand up for myself instead of letting these people walk all over me. Apparently, I need to ask forgiveness for being a woman who appreciates her individuality and finds joy in the spirit and personality that God bestowed upon her. I need to make excuses for wanting to be treated like a human being that is capable of thought instead of like a project that must be constantly edited to fit the (often unrealistic) expectations of another person. The only image I wish to conform to is that of Christ. Not of the La Leche League, not of a psychology major, not even of the many upright and blameless women I know. For our righteousness is as filthy rags to Him. What benefit is there in my becoming like another fallible human being? What good does it do me to become like someone else when God created me to be like Him? No good at all. I embrace my individuality. It is a gift from God, and I would be wasting that gift if I tried to shove it away in a corner because some people wish it was less independant, less creative, less like me and more like them.
I apologize, friends, if I am being cryptic. Suffice it to say, I may not sound like it in print, but in truth, I am a very meek person. I do not do confidence well. I tend to think that showing any sign of firmness or backbone is "mean." I often sugarcoat the truth because I am afraid of hurting people's feelings. As a result, I find myself being taken advantage of a lot of the time. I have a personality that seems to say to people, "Please, walk on the grass." Now, I don't know if it is a self-preservation instinct or what, but ever since I found out I am going to be a mom, I have started to become a little braver. This could be an instinct God has given us to keep our children from bullying us into spoiling them. It could just be the hormones. Either way, this has been a year of finally standing up for myself. Unfortunately, the two people I have chosen to finally stand up to are people who apparently cannot handle having friends who aren't malleable as clay, ready to be molded into whatever they want them to be. All I asked for was my individuality. All I wanted was for them to stop bossing me around, trying to make all of my decisions for me. I promise, the way in which I told them this was not mean or condescending or rude. It was telling the truth in love: that God made me who I am for a reason, and I need them to respect that about me. I need them to let me decide how to raise my kid. I need them to let me have other friendships in addition to theirs and a life outside of them. That is all, no more, no less.
"Please, just let me be myself and stop trying to make me you," I said. To which they responded, "You are totally outrageous and ungrateful. Goodbye forever." Now, on the one hand, I mourn the loss of these relationships because I honestly had some really great times with both of these people. I enjoyed their company, and I hate the awkward tension that now permeates the air when we have to occupy the same room. On the other hand, I sigh in relief because for the first time in 23 years I am finally starting to realize that I am free. I am not subject to the people I choose to hang out with. I am only subject to the Lord Jesus Christ and the United States government. That is all. I am free to formula-feed. I am free to do lunch with whomever I choose. I am free to make my own decisions about potty training, pacifier usage and what brand of sippy cup I want to buy (and wash) for my kid.
"That is so obvious," you might say. "Everyone knows that you are entitled to these opinions and many more." Au contraire, friends. Not everyone is aware of this. Some people think that I must make all the same choices as them. Some people are willing to throw away a lifelong friendship just because I tell them that I want to make up my own mind. This is a sad and greivous occassion, but also an opportunity for growth, not just for me but for the apparently-former friend as well. I am praying that God will continue to grow me through this experience, that He will continue to mold me into a person who is loving and kind but who no longer feels the need to sugarcoat the truth to make everyone on the planet happy. I am praying that He will continue to teach me patience, flexibility and confidence, and that He will fill me with wisdom and not let me be guilt-tripped any longer by believing a lie. It is not my responsibility to fix someone else's problems, especially ones that I didn't cause. It is not my fault that some people didn't make any friends after high school and I did. I cannot make everyone happy. And that is okay. Jesus told us that He didn't come to bring peace, but a sword. I think that statement is pretty clear: people's happiness was not priority numero uno for Christ. He understood that Truth is far more important than emotions. Now, this does not give us license to be rude or condescending. It does not constitute permission to spitefully point out people's faults or condemn others. What it does mean is that we don't have to stress ourselves out beyond all reason, tiptoeing around trying to never offend anyone. Jesus was possibly one of the most politically incorrect people of His time. He was also the most compassionate and accepting person of all time. I will do well to follow His lead, showing affection for the outcast, practicing true humility and speaking boldly in truth and in love. This is who He created me to be, and it is disobedience to conform to anything else.