Monday, January 13

On Friends

I'm very thankful for my friends. I was thinking last night about how my circles of friends have changed as I've gotten older (because I get all my deep thinking done late at night when I should be asleep, as some of you are unfortunate enough to have learned via long, rambling texts). I realized how God has given me exactly the people I needed to help me grow, learn, and become who I am now. Not that what I am now is a final product or anything - I'm a work in progress for sure.
It's really been kind of weird how I've viewed friends in general at different times in my life. When I was three, I was sort of an elitist. I turned my nose up (quite literally) at children who still wore Pull-Ups and vowed I would never play with that little boy who took my favorite toy in Sunday School. And since a man (or snobby little toddler) must show himself friendly to have friends, I didn't have many. My best (and only) friend moved away when I was five.
When I was six, I was completely obsessed with books. They were my friends. I was almost never seen without a book. Unfortunately, that didn't last long. By the time I was eight, I realized that I didn't have any friends at all. This was definitely difficult for me. Those of you who know me now and have heard this story never believe me at first when I say that nobody liked me, but I promise it's true. I'm pretty sure even my parents didn't like me very much during this time and the next years to come (but they certainly did love me). Don't feel bad for me though - I was wholly unlikable. 
From eight to about eleven I was an absolute terror. Almost never did a day pass that I didn't get spanked. I was miserable. These few years are still the worst of my life (hopefully I have enough years to come that that will sound more impressive later on), and I regret my behavior to this day. And since a man (or terribly behaved little girl) must show himself friendly (or even barely tolerable) to have friends, I had none.
When I was twelve, my family joined a co-op, and I was forced to be around other kids my age regularly. One of the girls there made a point to show love to me like she did to everyone, and I followed her example. I started to act more friendly, and lo and behold - people started to like me. It seems like it happened almost overnight. That co-op and the people in it basically started a new chapter in my life.
When I was thirteen and fourteen, I continued in the co-op and was friends with just about everyone there. I came out of my shell (perhaps too much, but it was okay for someone that age) and kind of got a reputation for being bubbly and crazy and loud. Generally people liked me, and generally I liked them back. I was more of a normal kid. I was an officer in SGA, I never missed PE, I went to co-op - I did everything I could and was totally obsessed with my friends. They were the most important thing to me.
When I was fifteen, though, people kind of started leaving my life. It's the natural way of things, I guess. I did an awful lot of growing up in about two months early in the year. Some of my friends were moving on to the next stage of their life while I wasn't, people were moving, we stopped going to a lot of our regular activities, and I just wasn't feeling it. I still had friends, but I grew apart from a lot of them. I felt like something was missing. Even though I had all the friends I could want, there was a shallowness to my relationships that wasn't cutting it for me.
Then late in May, I realized that I had been giving my friends way too much priority in my life. I was putting them above God. I was putting more energy into my relationships with other people than I was putting into the most important relationship of all - my relationship with Jesus Christ. So I got some things worked out, and lost touch with a lot of the people I had talked to every day only months before. It sounds bad, but I really didn't miss them. I was finally doing things right. God was first, and any friends who weren't okay with that didn't stay around much longer. In addition to developing a better relationship with my God, He sent me wonderful friends that I never expected and are ever so close to my heart now. (It's amazing how God is never content to bless us just a little. He always fills us to overflowing.)

If I was totally honest, I would tell you that I have probably three real friends. That's quite a change from just a year ago, when I would have said that I had at least twenty-four. Lots of people are something like friends to me, but in those three I've found some very special people who encourage me and really just make me happy (and hopefully I do the same for them).
I've wondered if I should feel bad about not trying to continue all the old friendships I used to have, but every time I start to question my current situation I come to this: If God is first in my life and I follow His will, He will send me the right people.
So then it's really quite easy to be certain that I have all the friends I need. If I can determine that God is first, I can rest easy that things are as they should be.
There was a song I used to sing in Sunday School that was so catchy that I'll probably never forget it. But it had a good message, too. The lyrics go, "Jesus and others and you - what a wonderful way to spell 'joy!' Jesus and others and you - in the heart of each girl and each boy. J is for Jesus, for He has first place. O is for others we see face to face. Y is for you in whatever you do. Put yourself third and spell 'joy.'"

God first. Then everyone else. Me last. The rest is gravy.


  1. Fantastic post. I remember my mom asking me what I would rather have in relation to friends... 4 quarters or 100 pennies?

  2. Rachel Miller14/1/14 7:59 AM

    That was wonderful and well said Meredith!!

  3. Made me smile; and that song just topped it off.