I’ve always been the kind of person who wanted to be liked by everyone. I didn’t expect to be homecoming queen or anything, but I did want to be the type of person anyone could get along with. Growing up I always tried to be the friend that could keep a secret, and the person least likely to gossip (which is actually kinda hard). The thought of someone disliking me always bothered me, and even as I’ve gotten older I don’t like broken relationships or rocking the boat. I hate confrontation. It’s actually makes me shake. I get that quivering feeling in the pit of my stomach, my heart rate increases, and that sensation of dread comes over me. As a teenager this quality made me a target, but as an adult it’s probably made me a good ally. The point is you won’t find me picking an argument, and standing up for myself is actually hard for me.
These qualities are good and bad. I’d like to think they’re mostly good. I’m quick to forgive, I don’t sweat the small stuff, and it takes a lot to make me call it quits. But sometimes you just have to. This is something I’m realizing the older I get. I don’t have to be friends with everyone, and while I still feel called to love my fellow man, I’m learning that I can love some from a distance.
I recently found myself in a situation where a longtime acquaintance said something hurtful to me. The thing was it wasn’t the first time this had happened, and not even the second. With each situation, I had pushed it aside, after much time spent mulling it over incessantly in my mind, and then I had moved on without saying a word. In my heart, I knew that I probably wasted more time upset about it than I should, whereas the other person probably didn’t give it a second thought. If I’ve learned anything so far in life it’s that different people are wired different. Some people care too much, while others care too little. But finally I was in a place where I could honestly ask myself why I was allowing an individual into my life who only caused me stress, and more importantly didn’t seem to even notice that they did.
You can’t be everyone’s friend.
It is true that the Lord wants us to love one another and to be of one accord, but the problem is this world in which we live. It’s a world that gives different upbringings to different people, it brings specific, sad pain to some individuals, and presents different challenges to each along the way. Some people can take the hurt that was given to them and it somehow makes them stronger. Those injured souls may use their pain to help others, while another may fall under the weight of what life dealt them. They may use that pain as a reason to never trust, to lash out, and to hold people at a distance. Some people who have been hurt become more sensitive to the pain of others, while the next person may become numb to the pain they inflict. We all hold unique challenges of how to see life, how to walk through it, and how to interact with people as we go. There are just too many variables.
I long for Heaven, a place where we can all let go of the pain of sin that makes relationships so difficult. Until then I’ll do best to remind myself that I don’t have to endure painful friendships, and I don’t have to love everyone up close and personal. I know that I’m not perfect, and it’s good to remember that neither is anyone else. Sometimes my imperfections clash with the imperfections of another, and on this side of Heaven, that’s ok. God doesn’t demand my perfection, just my love. His mercies are new each morning, His strength is made perfect in my weakness, and it’s just fine and dandy to admit that I’m not the perfect, best friend to every person on this planet. Distance doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder, but it can prevent it from putting up with unnecessary pain.