A few weeks ago, some old wounds of mine began to tingle with reminiscence. Friendship wounds, wounds of rejection. A complicated (and painful) situation came up, and a series of long, hard, good conversations began. These things unravel slowly, but I know these wounds, too, will heal.
Friendship is hard.
Two years ago Dave and I talked with a friend about “community.” We agreed: The desire to belong is a hungry monster. You can throw immeasurable time and energy into feeding that desire, but it will never be satisfied—not till Kingdom come.
Desire for friendship brings with it fear of scarcity. I worry there is not enough love to go around. If I don’t grab and guard what I can, I might be left on the outside. If I let someone else into this space, there may not be room left for me.
The longing to be known, accepted and loved is probably my deepest desire. But here’s the thing: When I carry that hungry monster into my relationships, it is damaging. I know that to be true of my marriage. When I look to Dave to complete me, we both end up hurt and angry. We complement each other, yes—extremely well—but we do not complete each other. We’ve learned this, and we no longer try. Our marriage is healthier for it.
These last few weeks have been hard, but I am not caught in the cyclone of shame I would have succumbed to five years ago. I am resilient now. I am able to see the hurt, to acknowledge it and own it and be angry about it and speak about it and cry about it, and to keep moving.
I am resilient for two reasons.
First, I have people. There are a few people scattered across the country whom I can call or text any time and know they will hold my story with me. They will be sad with me or joyful with me. They will pray for me and hope for me. This helps immensely.
Far more important is this: I know, at my core, that I am Beloved. I believe God loves me and is near. I am worthy of love simply because I was created to be worthy of love. I have professed this truth all my life, but in the last five years has it settled into my marrow in a new way. Now, my belovedness grounds me. When I know I am beloved, nothing else matters as much. When I carry this knowledge into my friendships, I can love and receive love freely. The monster is subdued. I don’t enter friendships hunting for belonging; I already belong.
How have I come to this knowledge? It’s been years of practice. I wrote a book about it. For now, I will say this: I used to be afraid to be alone with God. I thought God was angry and maybe didn’t love me very much. I feared I was, at the core, unlovable. But the more I entered the darkness within myself, the braver I became. The more I opened myself to God’s love, the more I fought for time to rest, to pray, to create, and to be outside, the more grounded I became. The more grounded I became, the more I could love the people around me well, without grasping.
This month is hard, but I know the wounds will heal. Reconciliation will come with plenty of truth, grace, and honesty. It would be much harder if I needed these relationships to believe in my own worth. Because I know I belong already, healing will come much easier.
There are other things that help the hurt. One night we went to dinner with some new-ish friends, and as we cleared the table they asked if we wanted to linger, to put the kids to bed and play games and talk for a while. As we wrangled our kids into borrowed pajamas, I looked at the happy chaos and thought, This is good. This is healing.
One morning after our weekly pancake breakfast, my family had a spontaneous dance party. Spinning in circles with my small son, I thought, This is good. This is healing.
Those moments alone can’t heal me. They are healing because I am grounded in God’s love. They are healing because I already know I belong. They are healing because I don’t expect them, by themselves, to heal me.
I don’t have this figured out. I am still hurting, still making mistakes, still asking hard questions. But trust me on this: There is enough love for you, my friend. There is more than enough. I have seen it.