Today my friend and I were emailing back and forth, discussing the struggles we have in forming deep meaningful relationships. I wrote this to her:
“Sometimes I still am a bit surprised that you (or anyone for that matter) would really want to be my friend and I wonder if you are just putting up with me out of the goodness of your heart. I tell myself that it isn’t true, but it creeps up on me now and then. It is so ingrained in me to believe it, that often the best I can do is act like it’s not true, even though, deep down, I really suspect that it is.”
After I sent that to her, I got to thinking about why that would be. Why do I have that basic belief about myself? Then God reminded me of something that I wrote just last week as part of a new writing project…
When I was a little girl, Wonder Woman was my hero. She was beautiful and strong and she always captured the bad guys. I remember playing in the back yard of my friend Leah’s house when I was seven years old. We ran all over her yard pretending to be superheroes. I did my slow-motion Wonder Woman spin to change from my unassuming alter-ego, Linda Carter, to the fearless crime fighter in a red, white and blue leotard with bullet proof wrist bands and the Lasso of Truth. Leah was Supergirl. We chased bad guys over the top of the play structure, down the slide and around to the front of the house where we captured them and saved the world from their evil plots. It was great fun.
Leah was my best friend. Her family lived around the corner from mine in those days. We played together almost every day. My first sleepover was at her house. I didn’t sleep much that night. The sounds were different. The bed felt different. The moonlight shined into her bedroom differently than it did in mine. I was kind of scared, but I was with my best friend, so I didn’t want to go home.
One day Leah told me that she was having a slumber party at her house. She said she could only invite her five best friends and those were her friends from school, so I wouldn’t be able to come. You see, Leah went to private school and I went to public school, so we had different school friends. She went on to explain that she was sorry, but I was her sixth best friend after Jennifer, Leslie, Allison, Rochelle, and Melissa. That was the day that I realized that Leah only played with me because I lived around the corner from her. She played with me when there wasn’t anyone else for her to play with. That was the day I understood that although I loved Leah and she was my best friend, Leah didn’t really love me. I was only her sixth best friend.
I had a moment of clarity when I realized that this event is the basis for my belief that others wouldn’t really want to be friends with me. I have carried the baggage of this my entire life and I didn’t realize it. A seven year old little girl wrote on my heart that I wasn’t worthy to be her friend and therefore I don’t really believe that I’m worthy of anyone else’s friendship.
I think that the saddest part of that memory is what happened after the slumber party. I stayed away from Leah for a couple of weeks, but then I got lonely. I desperately wanted someone to play with, so I went back to Leah’s house to see if she would play with me. In those two weeks, she didn’t come looking for me even once. She didn’t ask me where I had been. I don’t think she even noticed. I knew that going back meant that I was settling for being her 6th best friend, but I did it anyway.
Now, I can look back on my relationship with Leah with my grown up eyes and see that she was not a good friend to me. I see the ways she talked down to me and showed off all the things she had that I didn’t have. She was bossy and snobbish and she had a mean streak. I don’t think that she meant to hurt me that day, but she did mean to make clear to me that I was not as important to her as her other friends. I just think she was too self-absorbed to realize how much that would hurt.
So now that I know where that belief came from, I’m not quite sure what to do with it. Or about it, because that picture of myself as the sad little girl who isn’t quite good enough to be included is still there. Maybe knowing will enable me to counter those feelings when they come up. Maybe I need to take it to Jesus and ask him to erase those words from my heart and write his truth there, instead.
Here is what I found in the Bible about the truth of who I am to God:
The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs —heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. Romans 8:16-17
According to this, if I am a child of God, then I am God’s heir. Actually a co-heir with Christ. That blows my mind! God values me enough to make me first, his child, and second, an inheritor along with Christ. If Christ is the Son of God and the Prince of Peace, and I have been adopted into the family, then doesn't that make me royalty?
Now that is something I want written on my heart.