One day during the summer of 2021, my sister (as in my biological sister not a reference for 'friend') and I were talking about friendship as adults. My sister has been married over 10 years--I think-- and has two beautiful children. I, at the time, was single and constantly traveling or moving somewhere new.
My sister and I have always had little in common except for that we both love the creative arts and we are introverts! Puzzled, she asked me, "How the heck do you make friends wherever you go?"
To be honest, I believe it's all been through God's work & all credit goes to Him because I sure as gold don't know how I've made friends as a shy and reserved person.
However, here's what I believe; in general, it's extremely scary during these times & more than others, to try and make new friends whether you're an introvert or an extrovert
Division is at an all time high. Sides have been "picked." People are "holding their ground" and others are pushing "friends" off the ledge into the abyss based on a social media post alone. It feels like a war without weapons.
I don't believe making friends is hard these days because of the fact that we were physically forced to seperate from one another but rather the notion of "division" that continues to be drilled into us.
Division has always been present in our culture but now it seems like we are purposefully lighting the match to burn other people's houses down. I believe this makes growing new friendships or even kindling old ones very difficult. I have to keep a humble heart, reflect on my own insensitivity and have patience that this world will be redeemed.
I've felt an anxiety since 2019 that I can only name as perhaps close to the description of "agoraphobia" which is a fear of people & being yourself in a social setting. It mostly messes with your ability to communicate clearly because you're already stuck on the hamster wheel of hate. This person hates me. No matter what I say, they are already looking to rebuttle me. So then what ironically happens is that my communication gets jumbled and I say less or too much and it becomes wildly misinterpreted & I'm like "Great. My fear just came true "
Nowadays, I wonder if the feeling of hate kills a soul faster than a knife to the physical body would kill the function of living. Again, it's not new. Hate has been apparent for centuries. It's just that hate feels and sounds so loud and wide right now.
I just read last night that by 2050 the sea levels will rise a foot. Guess who had dreams about giants waves all night!? That's how hate feels to me--a giant wave ready to pummel me. I'm too small for this. Maybe it's really true; only Christ is big enough to handle this.
When the lock-downs began in 2020, I was relieved! I could not understand why people were so upset about staying home when it came to mental health. I would make insensitive remarks that I now regret like, "Learn to be an introvert! Its best for your mental health!" Or "Would it hurt you to be by yourself for once!?"
Lo and behold, those statements were turned against me when I experienced what isolation can do to my own mental health & when I met my partner who had the opposite opinion; socializing is good for the mental health. It's healthy to be around those who have a different perspective; we balance one another while remaining true to ourselves.
In transparency, it wasn't like I was itching to get into to a party scene but I understood, by heart, that God was telling me, "People need people."
I don't have the answers but I sure wish I did so we could stop hating one another based off of where we are at in our process.
I'm grateful, however, that God has graced me with friends right now whose goal is not to dismiss me but to understand and to witness me. When I transitioned some of my roles and beliefs, I was already ready to be canceled! I was ready to go back into isolation. But God showed me otherwise. He'd already planted the people I would need in my life in this moment.
I believe the way its been playing out also has to do with the way I showed up with my new beliefs & presented them to friends. I presented them in a way of I'm not better than you, I'm not asking you to change your beliefs but I know that I have to change my ways and when I speak about my journey, it's not to insist yours is the same or should be.
It didn't always get interpreted like this on the first try. I had to slow some conversations down and explain myself. I've triggered people & I'm 100% NOT that Instagram meme that says "If I triggered you, that's YOUR problem!"
I'm sensitive. I hate triggering people. I cry a lot after I've triggered someone. It doesn't feel good. I don't know how people "slay" in that way. It's the worst feeling ever for me.
One thing I know for sure is that I'm not willing to cut people out of my life because they don't see it like I do and I don't hang onto people with the hope that one day they will. Whether they do or don't, it shouldn't change the way to which I appreciate their place in my life.
I always have this feeling that the answer to all of this division is on the tips of our tongues but first, we have to taste the bitterness to know what it needs to be sweeter.
When I read this scripture, I felt confused because this whole transformation through Christ started with me carrying other people's burdens when it wasn't my job to do so. When in my weakness, I was able to lay my burdens down at the feet of Jesus, is when I felt most strength. Why would I want to carry someone else's burden? @
But then, I read the part in the Bible where Jesus was moved to tears every single time he witnessed those who were spiritually lost find their way and I realized, perhaps to "carry" each other's burdens is simply just to witness one another through the eyes of Love and trust that God has got them.
The other day I was conversing with God about my partner. I said something along the lines of, "You really sent me a guy who is true to his word!"
While that is true and correct, there was that Godly pause...you know, the one where you know that He about to hit you with a revelation...
"COULD IT ALSO BE THAT YOU HAVE MORE FAITH IN PEOPLE NOW THAN YOU DID BACK THEN?"
Ah, yes...it works both ways. God oils all the engines accordingly.
Stay sweet, not bitter. 🙏