Were you ever completely tongue-tied? Did you stand as though frozen solid and run through the list of topics on your mind only to find it now completely blank? I consider myself an outgoing and bubbly person. Normally, I have no trouble speaking endlessly about a vast amount of diverse subjects. But there are moments, however brief, that even I cannot speak my mind. When the entirety of my thoughts disappear into oblivion and I stand blank faced, awkwardly waiting for the other person to say something. The usual culprit of my sudden lack of ability to hold normal conversation? Fear. Now I am not afraid of meeting new people as anyone who knows me well can tell you. The fear stems from those who I know or better, have known. The people who left, the ones I “lost” who never really left, the people I used to call friends and the ones I never received the opportunity to call even an acquaintance.
I parted ways with many friends since childhood. Sometimes the separations was mutual, we grew apart. Occasionally, distance drifted us away from each other and lack of communication from both or either person caused us to fall out. The most common reasoning however, is one I cannot describe. I, myself have ended very few friendships purposefully due to various reasons, but many people have shut the door to our friendships without a second glance. For years, I blamed myself. After all, as a child and teenager I assumed the friends who left could not bear to close to the girl who was different. I admit I have never been a cookie-cutter stereotype. I was not very attractive growing up. This is not me feeling sorry for myself just that my physical features were easily teased by the other children. I rarely listened to “top 40” pop music. My face did not see makeup until high school and even then only for special occasions. Unfortunately in order to attempt making friendships, I hid some of the things others considered “flaws” and became a pushover and a people pleaser, until a few years ago. I became slightly more attractive as I grew up, as most of us do after leaving our awkward stage (which for me lasted longer than most), learned how to show my personality through the way I dress (I wore those cute little Catholic School uniforms until I was 18. Adorable, right?) and became more confident in the person I was inside. I swear the first date I was asked on shocked me (It was in college by the way and now I am asked out more often then I ever thought possible as a teen). Now I embrace those differences and I LOVE not being a stereotype. I am quirky, silly, a bookworm, a performer, a writer, a lover of all music (almost all genres), a Catholic, an Italian-Irish-Native American, a friend, a daughter, a sister, an individual. I no longer blame myself for all of the friendships I lost even though I have made many mistakes and sometimes it was indeed my fault. In the past, every rejection I viewed as personal failure. I disliked every person who ever left my life, until I learned something that changed me for the better.
God tells us to love all. I heard this countless times growing up and while I tried to be kind to everyone, I examined what it meant to truly love all. When I did, it transformed me. I will be honest with you, I desire a friendship with everyone. It is one of my major flaws and favorite parts of my personality and I am sure some of you do the same. But when a friendship ends, please do not cry. Do not shed tears for those hurt you, dislike you, wrong you, ridicule you, hate you, spread rumors about you, cheat you or tell you that you are less than a child of God because that is exactly what you are but here is the hard part, they are a child of God too. Not everyone has to like you or love you, but that does not mean that YOU cannot love everyone. It can be difficult but the best things are the most challenging. The rewarding part is that hate leaves your heart. Pride stops so many of us, me included, from truly giving our love to every person we meet and from forgiving those who have hurt us in the past. Grudges lead to regret and swamp us with feelings of disdain. they do not help us grow. Only love can transform all of us into the people we are intended to be by God.
I have a challenge for you. While maintaining your current friendships (which is VERY important) and remembering to tell everyone you care about just how crucial their presence is to your life, wish everyone happiness. Everyone included all of those who left you, who hurt you. Spend a few minutes every day praying for the happiness of those you may never see again, the ones you see everyday who do not acknowledge you, the ones who turn their nose up to you and make you feel like you are worthless. Why? Because we are here to love. Love is not easy nor should it be. When you truly love someone, (a friend, family member, whoever) you are understanding with them, you are never quick to judge them or become angry, you are patient and kind. Therefore, love may not be easy but it is essential and I personally feel so much happier choosing to love than to be upset that someone simply is not fond of me. Choose love. Love every day. Love God. Love each other. Fall in love with your life and your actions will speak for you.