I have a college friend that has been dear to my heart for 20 years. She is the first friend I remember that cried with me. I can’t remember why I was so upset, but I remember her tears. They touched me so deeply that I have held onto their memory all these years. Through years of attempted contact via mail and several short face-to-face meetings in various God-ordained encounters. 20 years, and the memory is still precious to me.
In the last year, we have drifted apart. And it breaks my heart. Now the tears are for her, and I wish she was here to cry with me. Because it is her choice to keep us apart. It is her choice to shut me out. It is her choice to block me from her life.
Why? She thinks I am out to judge her choices. To criticize her lifestyle. To condemn her logic. But I’m not. And I’ve made several pleas to let her know that in no way is any of this true. The truth is that I love her, I appreciate her, and I want to support her. The truth is I care enough about her to not care about any differences we may have in ideology, lifestyle, or choices. The truth is I love her and want to be there for her, to be her friend.
But the wall is up, all around. I am locked out and looked down upon. And it hurts my heart.
Because when I say I love her, I mean it. I don’t care about any differences, since differences can define positively instead of dividing. But when I say I love her, she hears me say “you aren’t good enough” or “you aren’t smart enough” to be my friend. If I ask a question, she hears me say “you are so wrong” or “you’re making bad choices” as if I am questioning her being at its core. If I send a small token of my affection, she thinks I am saying “you can’t handle or take care yourself” or “you aren’t capable of anything”. I feel like every look is interpreted as a critique and every word is hurled as a criticism.
But that’s not what I’m saying. If this is the voice she is hearing, it isn’t mine. It must belong to someone in her life, but it isn’t me.
So my continued prayer is for opened eyes and heart, for both of us. I want her to see me for who I am – a person who cares without condemnation and has great compassion for the rough places in her life. I don’t want to be grouped with family and friends who have torn her down and broken her confidence. I don’t want to part of a crowd of haters without a kind word or compassionate touch, who push pain, squash ingenuity, and crush creativity. I don’t want to be seen through the lens of hurt that encompasses her, an identity stemming from a history of being criticized, questioned, challenged, judged, and negatively opined.
So I am stuck. I can’t break through. The wall seems to be too tall and too rugged to overcome. No matter what I say or what I do, I am wrong. All I want is to love her and be at peace. But we aren’t there. Because she has mistaken my love and misread my care for (continued) judgment.
So I am stuck. All I can do is pray for her and hope that one day we can be reconciled. That one day she will stop shutting me out and allow me to be her friend. That one day my care will be seen as care instead of criticism. I have hope that with God all things are possible (Ephesians 3:20) and will work out for His glory and my good (Romans 8:28). Maybe they won’t work out the way I want them to, but I will never doubt God is in control and God is trying to do a good work in both of our lives.
So for now, as I am stuck, I will think her of fondly. I will continue to pray. I will not lose hope that God is chasing so hard after her that she will have no choice but to turn to Him.
And I will appreciate the good friends I do have in my life, who see my love for what it is, an appreciation of their place in my life and an extension of God’s grace.
So please, loving heavenly Father, continue to pursue each of us with your never-failing love and never-ending grace. Touch our lives to see You more vividly, hear You more clearly, and follow You more willingly. We can never have too much of You in our lives, and whether we acknowledge You or not, we need You. Help us to come to a greater understanding of You, Your love, Your promises, and Your plans for us. Thank You for never giving up on us, ever! Thank You for the precious memories I have of my friend. I pray that you put the right people in her path that will help her knock down her walls. In Jesus’ mighty name, AMEN!
Marie Fremin, 9/4 and 9/7/15
BONUS: Here’s where my heart is after everything (from August 2014). My expanded description of being stuck:
I don’t know how to talk to you, and I don’t know how to make it better.
I’m not trying to fix or repair or alter you.
I’m not trying to tell you how to live.
I’m not trying to tell you your choices are wrong.
I’m not judging or criticizing you.
All I am trying to do is show you a little love and kindness. No agenda. Just love and kindness.
There are no other motives, no master plans, no hidden agendas.
It’s just this simple – me, reaching out to the sweet friend I met 20 years ago. This same girl who always showed me compassion and tenderness, the girl who was my first friend to cry with me. All I want is to stay in touch and possibly touch you the same way you’ve touched me.
I suspect you think I will / expect me to hurt and/or attack you. That is never my plan!
I’m not looking for any “evidence” to use against you in the future.
I’m not trying to arm myself with any poisonous arrows to fling later.
I’m not looking for gossip fodder.
Yes, I may accidentally step on your toes. But it will not be intentional, and if you let me know, I’ll make an effort to do better.
But at this time and in this space, all I want is to be your friend. I’ll be here to listen to you. We can share the craziness and chaos that is life. We can laugh together and cry together. We can even have some fun!
Can you let me in?
Can you allow me into your walls?
Can you trust me to have no ulterior motives?
Can I be part of your life without constant suspicion?
Can you give me a change to get close without pushing me away?