Wisdom of a friend

We’re gonna get real tonight, people. I’ve been inspired by my wonderful friend and sister-in-Christ, Rachel. Check out what she says about friendship here.

Yesterday, I met with my church Small Group; an amazing group of people – all ages, men and women, and we talked about Loneliness – the subject of our church’s most recent sermon. Listen here. We talked about the importance of real connections with people.

Friendship is so important to me. I crave real connections, for people to know me and want to invest in me. At the same time, I can draw within myself if I think that people are getting too close, too quickly.

(I have issues, folks, did you not know?!)

Seriously though, at the end of our time together I asked my Small Group to pray for me, because for a few months now I have been struggling in a friendship that feels very uneven. I love this person, and have known them for a long time. They know me really well too. But lately, I have felt like I am the one who always makes the effort and my friend doesn’t respond or give anything back.

It has been really difficult for me. At times I’ve felt like a young girl again, reminded of when friends suddenly decided they didn’t want to be my friend anymore, and I had no idea why (I still don’t, actually). I’ve wondered if I have done anything to upset this friend, or given them a reason to not want to be around me. I know I am probably not the easiest person, all of the time, but even with a lot of soul searching I couldn’t think of something that I had done.

This is an issue I have struggled with ever since my very first “best friend” when I was about five; in so many close friendships I have felt like I invested more in the friendship than the other person. My own insecurities meant that I never completely trusted that the other person wanted my friendship, and I felt like I had to really work at it, rather than just accepting a good thing! I’ve really had to give this over to God; accept His love first…and trust wholly that He chose me.

Knowing my identity is in Christ has really changed my viewpoint about friendships, but I still find it hard at times. In this situation, when I had no reason for why this friend seemed withdrawn from me, instead of raising it with her and discussing it like an adult, sister-to-sister, I became quite bitter in my heart about my friend. I found it incredibly difficult to talk well of her, and not complain about it at every chance I got.

As I talked with my Small Group, I realised that while it upsets me that the friendship is uneven, I have no control over how my friend acts. I could speak to her about it, but I don’t believe she has done this intentionally. Her life’s priorities are different to mine and I need to accept that, lovingly.

I have control over my own actions and thoughts, and I realised that they are not Godly or loving towards my friend.

I got my feelings hurt, and I found it hard to forgive because my friend did not apologise for hurting me (though she shouldn’t need to) and that unforgiveness bred bitterness towards my friend.

In case you weren’t aware, bitterness is a bad thing. A very bad thing. It is damaging to my heart and soul, because it roots deep down inside you and twists everything. It encourages you to see yourself as a victim, and see the world and others as the enemy. Ultimately, it hurts you.

Bad, bad, bad.

So my friends prayed for me. And I am working on confronting my bitterness and trusting God that this friendship is still worth my heart’s efforts even if there may not be an equal response.

I have to say, I am very thankful for the friendships that I have. I have so many people around me who I can turn to – when my heart is willing and I feel bold enough to reach out. As my friend Rachel has said in her blog, quoting someone; every Christian needs a Paul, a Barnabas, and a Timothy…

“A Paul is a mentor like friend that can teach you, encourage growth in you, and a godly person that you admire and aspire to be like. A Barnabas is a friend that is in the same place as you, so you can walk through life together, encouraging and sharpening each other in the Lord. A Timothy is a person that you pour yourself into, walk along side and can actively support and encourage in their walk.

This is how God made us, not just to receive but to give”

I know that I have each of these, and that means I am truly blessed

-x-

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The colour Grey

October has been a grey and dreary month. I am missing the summer…so badly. The past few weeks, it has felt as if Canterbury is just one big wet cloud…today more than ever! I can’t remember the last day that the sun shone.

(I don’t know if I’ve ever said on here, but I am pretty much glass half-empty/pessimistic kinda gal. More like Eeyore and Piglet, than Tigger and Roo, if you’re an A.A. Milne fan)

Having near constant grey and dismal-ness, epic amounts of rain, waking up and it being dark outside, and that weird temperature where if you don’t wear a coat you’re too cold, but if you do wear a coat you’re too warm…it all makes me feel a little bit inclined to curl up in my bed and hibernate until Spring.

Don’t even get me started on the fact that the clocks are changing soon so I’ll be driving to work, and driving home, in the darkness. It’ll probably rain as well.

Can you tell that it’s getting me down a bit?

I think Autumn is my least favourite season; where Summer is over but it’s too soon to really get excited about Christmas. I love it least when it’s a damp and miserable Autumn. It wouldn’t be so bad if it were just cold, it’s the constant rain!

Autumn can be beautiful…but unfortunately my current Autumn comes from a completely different colour pallet.

I shouldn’t complain so much, really. We do need the rain, and other countries pray & pray for rainfall like we get…but it’s really hard to look on the bright side of life when all you see is grey 😦

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A traumatic week

Last week was full of antics, and mostly ‘not-good’ ones :S

On Monday I drove back from Devon to Canterbury, after a restful yet busy week of annual leave. It took about six hours to get back, so I was pretty tired and decided to have an early night at 9.20pm. Just over an hour later, my work phone rang…the joys of being Social Worker On-Call. To cut a long (confidential) story short, I ended up having to attend at a foster carers’ home at 11pm and didn’t get home until almost 1am.

The next day I went into work and got caught up on all the shenanigans of the previous week, before heading out on a home visit and then to collect a young person to take him to a local police station to be questioned after he had assaulted someone. It was my first time in the deepest, darkest recesses of a police station. It was not his first.

After three hours in the station I returned said young person to his foster carers, and eventually got to my friends’ house for dinner about 7pm (an hour late, thank God for friends who feed me, and are also forgiving). I thought I’d be hopeful and get another early night around 9.30pm, but shortly after 11 my phone rang…this time a different young person had not returned home by curfew and consequently had to be reported missing to the police, me and social services. She then turned up about half an hour later.

And so it went on…meetings, phone calls, a rushed visit to the gym and generally lots of busy-ness and organised chaos.The weekend fared marginally better, I had a quite peaceful Saturday – cleaning the house, reading, catching up on life, but with regular updates from one of my foster carers about her foster daughter. I can’t say on here what it was about, but it was very confusing and no-one seems to know what really happened!

Saturday night was great though, I went to my friend Emma’s (she lives across the complex from me) and we ate pizza and chatted, and watched Outnumbered. I felt loved and peaceful and it was what I needed.

Sunday was my first October Sunday at City, as I was away for two weekends, and apart from a weird moment where mistaken identity meant a lady ‘told me off’ for missing creche duty (she thought I was someone else, and that someone else had not turned up) it was lovely to be back. We heard an awesome preach from our lead elder and I only had one work phone call during the service which is an improvement from the last time I was on call when I had three.

And so, there I was on Sunday night, feeling pretty drawn out and looking forward to some gentle Downton time to soothe me after my hectic and mental week.

BUT THEN

I am still absolutely furious with the writers of Downton Abbey for killing off Lady Sybil. With absolutely no word of a lie, I woke up this morning and felt like I was grieving for an actual friend. It felt so real, and it is so unjust. Of course, like everything Downton it was incredibly well-written and acted, but that’s not the point! It’s just so unfair, I feel like nothing good can happen for the rest of the series now. As if it wasn’t enough that poor Lady Edith got jilted at the altar, now they have lost Sybil too. I described the episode to my housemate and used the word HORRIFIC about five times.

so there we have it, ladies and gentlemen of the blogosphere. I am outraged and heartbroken over a TV programme. But so are many millions of other women, so I don’t feel too much of a sad-case/lunatic declaring it to the world.

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Crazy dreamer

I just remembered the crazy dream that I had last night. I’m used to weird and wonderful dreams (for example, my friends being kidnapped by Korean Nazis while on their cruise holiday) but last night’s was pretty odd even by my standards.

It started off as a fairly normal dream, going to visit a waterpark… and I went on one of the slides which looks like this:

I’ve never even been on a slide like this because the drop in the middle freaks me out…but in the dream, down I went. As I dropped through the hole, instead of there being water underneath, there was another tube type slide, and I caught my shin on the lip of it as I went through.

The next bit of the dream took place on a farm, because that’s how my mind works.

So…in catching my shin on the lip of the slide, I somehow broke my leg…even in the dream I thought the bruise was scary and gross. Present were Dr Christian from Embarrassing Bodies, and the Doctor from Downton Abbey, and they were deciding how to treat my broken leg…and both felt that amputation below the knee was the best way to go.

Of course.

In the dream I got panicked and tried to tell them that my leg wasn’t broken…but I think both Dr Christian and I were in Downton Abbey times, so there wasn’t an Xray available.

Just as I was getting frantic in my dream (and probably talking quite a bit in actual life), in runs Dr Gustav Strandvik – who is someone I know from my church. He yells “Stop, stop!” and they (thankfully) listen…and then he proceeds to tell them that my leg is not broken, it’s not even bruised and he wipes all the bruise off my leg with a little white handkerchief.

And then I woke up.

Hands up if you think I’m insane?!

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How old am I?!

Earlier this week I went to the cinema to see Perks of being a Wallflower, with my sister. She’s 18, and I’m 23. We both got charged for Teen tickets…meaning that the ticket seller girl thought I was between the ages of 13 and 18.

Ouch.

Yes, it meant that the ticket was £1.65 cheaper (I bought popcorn with the saving) but really?? I am twenty-three.

This is not the first of my mistaken-age situations.

When I went to the States earlier in the year, the check-in attendant at Heathrow asked me if I was “an unaccompanied minor”. I checked out the airline, and they class these as under-16. At the time I was 22, so he thought I was at least eight years younger than that. Of course, I just smiled sweetly and said “no, I’m 22”, at which point he looked mortified and apologised profusely. [My mum said I should have said yes, and then I might have got crayons and a colouring book on the plane]

But seriously, almost everyone I introduce myself to thinks that I am way younger than I actually am, which can get quite annoying. I also think that I lose some professional credibility – when I went to a training conference last week and introduced myself to some people in one of my groups, all of them thought I must be a Youth Club Worker or something similar; when I said my actual job title there was a lot of “oh really? But you’re so young!” to the point where I actually felt like just calling myself a Youth Worker because it seemed more acceptable, and less like hassle.

I know, it’s dumb.

On the flip side of this, people that know me often think I’m older than I am. I sometimes joke that I’ve been middle-aged since I was 13…but I think in some way it’s true; my life has been so full of chaos and drama that I feel sometimes like I’ve already lived a whole life. I definitely think I’ve had more than my ‘fair share’ of angst growing up, which makes me hopeful for the rest of my life because surely it’s all easy from here?!?!

I don’t know what point I’m trying to make.

Sometimes it’s hard to remember that I’m only 23…and to emphasize the “only” in that sentence, but for now I am trying hard to remember it, and be ok with it too…for example:

  • Even though I’ve had a crazy decade,  I’m only 23
  • Even though my job role is usually reserved for people with 10+ years’ post-qualifying experience, I’m only 23
  • Even though it feels like all my friends are in relationships/married/have kids, I’m still only 23
  • Even though I like “middle-aged” thinks like sewing, baking and gardening, I’m only 23 (and those things are definitely cool right now, so neh to the kids who made fun of me in school for liking to sew)

I still don’t really know if this post has a point, but it’s late and my face is all itchy from an allergy I seem to have developed, and I’m achey from sleeping on a rickety sofa bed…so I’m going to post this anyway and hope it makes some sense!

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