Friends- a FMF on Keeping an Open Heart Despite Hurts

Today’s FMF word is FRIEND. ¬†I couldn’t easily turn this word in to poetry once again, but I promise poetry will be back soon! ūüėČ

 

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I have to be real with you today, because maybe someone will relate to my story or find comfort in the fact that they are not alone. ¬†The word “friend” didn’t conjure up all happy images for me. ¬†You see, as a child we moved a lot. ¬†I also went through losses and bullying. My story of Friends is a story of repeatedly starting over-again and again.

 

In younger years it was due to the moving so much. ¬†With every move I had to start over and find all new friends again. ¬†I was blessed to have wonderful childhood friends in the first town I lived, but I had to leave them all behind. ¬†Of course over the years we lost touch. ¬†Only the strongest friendships last through many moves. After one of the moves I made in the 9th grade (to the town where I live now), I received a Christmas card from my old friends back home. ¬†This Christmas card was not the nice card I was excited to get (as a new girl in this town, homesick for old friends). ¬†To be frank , it was a Merry Christmas you “Bleep” type of card where I was told off and had profanities written at me , as well as called names. ¬†I decided to leave those “friendships” behind and moved forward at the new school.

 

I was blessed to be welcomed here so quickly!  I became best friends with 2 girls whom I did everything with.  The first girl who welcomed me and invited me to her house ended up getting brain cancer just a couple months after we met.  The majority of our friendship was spent battling her cancer (from age 14) until she died soon after I turned 16.  You may remember the inspiring FMF story I wrote about her on the word Afraid-(click the word to read).  The other best friend I had made ended up moving to Mississippi.  So there went 2 more losses, and it was time to start over again.

 

The next group of friends I made was larger. ¬†We had so much fun -from car pooling to school to weekend “diva nights” as we called them. ¬†Those friends turned on me one weekend when they planned a party (behind my back) to verbally attack me. ¬†I typically drove us everywhere ( I was the first to get a license), but this particular night they didn’t want me to drive. ¬†I thought that was odd, but whatever. ¬†I just got in the car when they picked me up. ¬†When we got to Friend A’s house there were no parents there. ¬†The “party” quickly turned in to a bullying fest where I was the victim. ¬†I had obscenities shouted in my face by a couple of the girls- F words and also called names (B words-this is a family blog so I am trying to be polite here ;)) . ¬†They wouldn’t stop- even though I was crying. ¬†They continued to shout in my face. ¬†I had no way of escaping because I had no car. ¬†My best friend of the bunch did not participate in the verbal attacks, but she sat back and did nothing. ¬†When I turned to her for support she was too chicken to stand by me. ¬† I found a phone and called Mom to pick me up. ¬†I never looked back.

 

It took me less than a week to find all new friends. ¬†I didn’t want the old ones to see me looking all alone and pathetic, so I made sure to meet some new girls at school, and spent lunch in the library until I did. ¬†The next time the old group saw me in the cafeteria , I was with my new friends. ¬†None of the other girls that weren’t at the party , nor my supposed best friend came over to the new table with me. ¬†They let me go and chose those who bullied me instead. ¬†As adults most of the friends I had left have since moved and I haven’t been able to reach them in ages now.

 

Part of my story of friends is a story of much loss(be it by moving, death, or bullying) and often being forced to stand alone with no one to take my side or back me up. ¬†I have learned a lot about forgiveness through these experiences . ¬†For the friends I lost due to the bullying-I never received apologies and there was never closure. ¬†It is hard to forgive when the people who hurt you think they are justified in doing so and don‚Äôt take responsibility for their actions. ¬†I would be lying if I said these hurts didn’t run deep. ¬†I don’t think of it much today, but today’s word brought these experiences back along with those past anxieties & tears.

HOWEVER….

 

 

I must also tell you that God’s grace is SO apparent everywhere throughout my life’s journey. ¬†When I look at the whole picture I see lots of love and light too. ¬†I see how many people God has placed in my path at the right time (often when I needed it most). ¬†There are for instance, my pen pals from China that came out of no where. ¬†Don’t ask me how they found me, but it started with Liu Jian Guo who instant messaged me out of the blue on MSN prob. about 13 years ago. ¬†He introduced me to his coworkers, and his now wife, and on the whole I have 4 friends in China that I have stayed friends with. ¬†We have sent gifts to each other, talked on the phone, chatted online , etc. ¬†I don’t know how they found me, but they are very dear people.

 

Then there is my friend & fiance, Matt.  A random chance meeting long ago before a (difficult) turning point in my life occurred.  God unexpectedly provided someone to be by my side in some hard times to follow.

There have been strangers who have touched my life that I have met via donating prayer shawls to.   There have been ladies I have met here in town for one reason or another.

5 years ago came my business, which brought with it my current best friend Becky.  That was also a fate thing (will write a story on it sometime).  Becky may be twice my age, but her friendship filled a need I had had for a long time.  We get together as often as we can (1-2x a year) and she is one of the few friends I have that always has time for me.  We answer each others phone calls, we are there for each other through tears, frustrations, laughter & joy.   There are other kind ladies I have met via my business too..such as my friend Kendra over at a proverbs 31 wife :).

 

There are two dear friends I have been blessed enough to keep from all of those childhood moves -Kristen and Becky.  <3

And then there are those dear kindred souls I have met through writing and FMF. ¬†Some of you have become close friends and we chat back and forth. ¬†I love and cherish our unique friendships where we encourage each other and can be “real”.

 

Now- if only you all lived close enough that we could hang out in Real Life!

 

 

I leave you with this inspiration today. ¬†For those of you who have been abandoned, hurt or bullied (or just have trouble finding true blue friends). ¬†Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Keep your heart open-Despite those hurts that make it easy to shut down and hard to trust. ¬†Don’t let the crap that others do affect your inner light and harden your heart. ¬†Be careful with whom you give your heart to, but always be open and let love flow out to others. ¬†You WILL get love back in return, and the right people will come your way if you don’t close yourself off. ¬†
  • Stand up against bullies & Respect yourself. ¬†I made a promise to myself long ago to not allow myself to be treated that way again. ¬†I don’t stoop to their level and become part of the hate, but I have enough respect for myself to move on and take a stand for myself by letting those who don’t show me the love and respect I deserve go. ¬†Also- if you see a friend being hurt- show some support. ¬†That is another way to take a stand against bullies if you are not the victim yourself.
  • Don’t let the bad cover up the good. ¬†Despite the hurts, there were also lots of fun times. ¬†While sometimes it’s hard, I try not to think about the bad that later transpired when I look at photos. ¬†I try to remember all of the awesome stuff we did. ¬†I was blessed to have many friendships and fun , even if I did have to start over so darn much!

 

I am not closed.  I want to be an open vessel of love.  What about you? 

With an extended hand of friendship,

Rebekah

 

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