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! 😉

 

Go

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’t 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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17 Responses to Friends- a FMF on Keeping an Open Heart Despite Hurts

  1. Your story really sits with me. I’ve been the victim of bullying for much of my childhood. It’s something you never get over. You may move on and realize you are loved and wanted, but there is always (at least for me) a part of me that wonders what was it about myself that made me so different. Now I love that I am different. Your story moved me…i’m sorry that you had those experiences, but you can share them with others and people like me can really relate to you story. Thank you for helping me feel connected and understanding that for you and I friend can be a loaded word.

    • Rebekah (We Live Inspired) says:

      I agree- you kind of get over it, but since you can’t forget it, it makes it complicated. I guess for myself, I had pretty healthy self esteem so I didn’t so I didn’t typically wonder what it was that I did (because I know it wasn’t me)…but rather have struggled with not being able to understand how people can be this way and do these things to another. In my case it seems like most of the perpetrators had unhappy home lives and were not as fortunate to have good upbringing like I was (minus a couple of the kids who I think just went along with the other kids under peer pressure). Often bullies are really sad inside themselves. I also think those of us who are the gentle spirited non fighters can be easy targets. You will notice how you don’t typically see the “mean” people get picked on (because people are intimidated by them).

      So glad my story could move you. I wasn’t sure about posting this but knew someone out there would need to hear it :D. You are so welcome and many blessings to you. I am glad you love your own uniqueness now !

  2. Patty says:

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!

    Patty

  3. denise says:

    Such a heart felt post, bless you.

  4. Esther says:

    Moving must have been so difficult 🙁
    I only moved when I was a young child so I couldn’t really remember that much. But when I was 13 I was also bullied by school mates so I understand how you feel though probably culturally the hurt and experience would be different.
    I’m praising God for bringing the right people into your lives at the right moment. His grace never ends! 🙂
    I love how you said ” I want to be an open vessel of love ”
    despite the hurt you’ve been through.
    I feel the same way too, many times I’d want to close up and just protect myself but God never allows me to because He knows that I’ll not be truly experiencing this life He has saved me for 🙂 (Same for you!) 😀
    xoxo

    • Rebekah (We Live Inspired) says:

      It was, and yet it gave me some cool life experiences and chances to meet people I still talk to in a couple cases, that I would not have met otherwise. I guess it was a double edged sword. I have no regrets on the moves though! It’s made me who I am, and I love that. You were picked on too huh? It’s a shame teenage girls (and heck sometimes adult women) have to behave in such ways.
      Yes- I can still be self protective and proceed with caution, and I think that can be ok sometimes. Right you are though- we can reach more people out there in His name when we are open vessels of love anyways, right? Keep on being a vessel of light and love , even when you get scared to Esther You make a diffference to people. 😀 xoxo

      • Esther says:

        haha definitely! God is sovereign over all, and He works for the good of those who love Him. So in that moment it did feel terrible, but it was molding you to become the woman you are today with a personality that understands what hurt means and so you can emphathize with others too 🙂
        yup, I have no regrets too! It actually gives me something to look back on and to try to understand myself better haha 🙂
        Thanks Rebekah! 🙂 You’re such an encouragement! xoxo

  5. Pattyann says:

    Loved this one today and I can so relate. There are not many good memories in childhood, but I am learning to make better friends as I age. I love how, despite the hurt, you still carry on. You are a blessing to those who know you and call you friend.

    • Rebekah (We Live Inspired) says:

      I am sorry you did not have many good childhood memories. I wish that were different for you, but you can create great memories now-it’s never to late. For myself I was blessed with a wonderful childhood (despite the fact that the moves were hard), and it was my high school years mostly where there are all of these bad memories because that is when all of the drama happened. I had so much fun too though- bittersweet is the word used best for high school.
      Thanks for your kind words Pattyann. I went through a period where I withdrew from everyone after high school, but I little by little started reaching out again and regained my confidence. It has been a process and actually a big part of why I started a website with tips and stories on how I live inspired and choose joy no matter what! You are welcome here anytime, and my friendship is always extended to those who want to connect. 🙂

  6. Paula says:

    Totally unexpected post, Rebekah, that I am certain touched many hearts; including mine. Cannot imagine anyone bullying you — only loving you! As do I.

  7. Vicki says:

    I can totally relate to moving a lot and having to start over. It is hard. You are so brave to keep your heart open! 🙂 Blessings, friend! 🙂

    • Rebekah (We Live Inspired) says:

      It can be hard to form roots and lifelong friends when moving so much, huh? However, I did get to have so many more life experiences than if we would have stayed put. That part is cool.
      I enjoy connecting with people, and I truly believe that for all the bad that can be out there, that there are all of these miraculous fateful meetings we can experience. Having an open heart brings more happiness and blessings even though there are risks involved. Blessings to you too! Glad we are friends through this FMF. It’s a pretty neat group of ladies. 😀

  8. Alyssaz says:

    This was really good. I was never a victim of bullying (Thank The Lord),but I have had a lot of friends just ‘fall away’ during my life time. From second grade to third grade I lost most of my friends for some reason, from fifth grade to middle school I lost three or four friends, and at least three of my good high school friends stopped being my friend for unknown reasons. One was my bestest friend ever. She went to Russia for a year and came back to hardly ever speak to me again and now I have no clue where she is.
    Each one is a mark on my heart, an unsolved mystery, that often keeps me from truly connecting even now. Your story is an inspiration; thank you again for sharing it!!

  9. Dara says:

    I so appreciate the stories where you go deep into vulnerability to reach even greater heights of inspiration. I can tell from the comments here that this post has touched many people — which is inspiring in itself. I remember one or two incidents of bullying, and the hardest part for me was that everyone — even my mother — found it funny even while I was hurting. It was a lesson in forgiveness, as you say, and also in shifting perspective and finding the humor in things. I’ve always thought it was maybe a blessing in disguise. I’m particularly impressed by the strength with which you turned your back on the bullies and gracefully moved on.

    • Rebekah (We Live Inspired) says:

      Thank you for that Dara, because these are the stories the inner critics have their heyday with when it comes too hitting the publish button. I can’t believe people found it funny when you were hurting. Especially your own mother! Sometimes I have to ask myself what on earth is wrong with people. Sorry you had that lack of support from people, and I am glad that you have been able to shift your perspective and even find humor. How amazing you can see it as a blessing in disguise!

      I am learning to give myself more credit for my strength. You know, even the bullies were VERY surprised I left them and never looked back. I don’t know why they would be. If someone is shouting obscenities in your face and throwing a party to gang up on you it is a very strong message to me that they did not want to be my friend any longer. Someone from that group told me that they were talking about me at the lunch table afterwards surprised that I never came back. I guess they thought I would take their crap and then somehow we would all work it out and be nicey nice again. At the time I didn’t see it as strength. I saw it as being hurt and feeling lost and like I wasn’t sure where to go from here. I actually hid out in the bathrooms and library at lunch for several days until I came up with a solution. I found a girl in my math class whom I told my problem too and she took me in to her group of friends. I stayed friends with that group the rest of my school days. In a way it was easy to not go back because no one made an effort to try to get me back. They let me go when I left and all moved on too. Even people who weren’t at the bully party that night. I was astounded that not one person from the 8-10 people in that “clique” was brave enough to stand up for me or to join me at the new table, etc. They were more worried about losing the whole group of friends I guess than losing 1 person (whom I might add would have been a better friend to them any day than those bullies. 😉 Their loss! ). The world needs more leaders. All it would have took was one brave person to leave, reach out and join me (take a stand) and I bet more would have followed. One of the most heartbreaking things for me was prom, as it was just a couple months after I left the group and it was weird going with a newer group that I didn’t feel quite part of yet. I had to watch all my old “friends” having a blast at prom while we all kept our distance. My supposed best friend who did not bully me at the party, but watched and did nothing later rekindled a friendship with me for awhile. When we were going over school pictures after graduation it was painfully obvious that I was missing from all the photos of proms, graduation fun and what not with these people. She didn’t fully get the magnitude of that for me, as it wasn’t that significant to her. It was like she didn’t notice and I had to point it out and tell her it was painful for me to look at the photos. One thing I am very proud of is that I don’t recall every responding back in hate or anger to any of the people who have hurt me. I never even retorted back. No fighting, no cursing or name calling in return, no yelling even. I guess I did move on with grace. Thanks for that insight! <3

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