My expectations for the summer were fairly realistic and simple: enjoy my kids, do some fun things, get together with people. We had two vacations planned and I knew Bradley would be traveling for work a couple of times. I was optimistic about the fact that seeing friends would happen regularly and often.
It was during our vacation at the beginning of August when I felt familiar pains of loneliness creeping in. Up to that point I had seen some of my friends once or twice, and the deep conversations I had hoped for had not happened. A ladies’ night was coming up–with no children–and I was looking forward to hanging out with some friends I was still trying to get to know. In the midst of planning our evening via texts that week, it became obvious that a different get together was in the works.
I hadn’t been included in the other event.
Immediately I found myself fighting tears and I started heading into a downward spiral of negative thoughts about myself and my relationships.
Nobody likes me. I don’t have any friends. I’m boring. I’ve been waiting all summer to get together with these ladies and now they are going to do it without me.
It seemed like when I was in town, everyone else was gone, and vice versa. I even went so far as to think that everyone had synced their vacations together but hadn’t consulted me.
This sounds so ridiculous.
It’s amazing how our thoughts can carry us away to believe such silly lies about people and about ourselves. One little text and I had created an entire scenario that was completely absurd.
Not only was it founded on un-truths about myself and others, I was taking the lies and allowing them to affect my entire day. I started getting irritated with my children. The sand and water no longer held appeal. I wanted to curl up in my bed and escape from time with my family. And I desperately wanted to eat the tin full of cookies my sister had brought for the week.
Loneliness often takes me to places I don’t need to go.
We finally walked out to the beach for our morning in the water but the lies were still brewing and I had to get them out. Once the kids were safe in their puddle jumpers and lathered with sunscreen, I pulled Bradley aside and told him what was going on (minus the part about everyone planning their vacations together) and how I felt so left out and worthless.
Do you know what he said?
“Well, Jesus is your friend.”
Thanks. Thanks a lot, honey. Where is the, “Oh, I’m so sorry, sweetheart. Those ladies are just missing out by not including you.” Or even, “They know you’re on vacation so they knew you wouldn’t be able to go.”
In that moment I wanted comfort and reassurance that I was ok. That being left out of a get together had nothing to do with my personality or whether or not people liked me. I wanted to cling to any possible idea that my value as a person hadn’t changed.
I got upset at him for reminding me of the Truth.
It’s so easy to do this. It’s easy to believe the lies and find comfort in a misplaced confidence. But even if those ideas or feelings seem helpful, they will not hold up. And they will not hold me up.
When I’m struggling with insecurity in my relationships, I need to remind myself of a relationship that is built on a firm foundation. In the deepest part of my soul I need that truth that Jesus is my friend. I might not realize this in the moment of hurt, but instead of grasping for temporary comforts, I have to return to the One who will always meet the needs of my heart.
All day long I worked through the various emotions that come with being ‘uninvited’. Anger, sadness, loneliness, rejection, disappointment, pride, and the thing that kept coming to mind was that comment Bradley had made. He handed me a gift in the words he shared, and as I turned my eyes off of myself I was able to receive and cling to the Truth that Jesus is my friend.
After our vacation I promptly ordered Lysa TerKeurst’s latest book, Uninvited. I was struggling in my relationships and I wanted to hear what she had to say about feeling lonely and rejected. In the second chapter I read these words:
“I needed truth to inform what I believed about myself. Otherwise, what I believed about myself would become a fragile, flimsy, faulty foundation. The beliefs we hold should hold us up even when life feels like it’s falling apart.”
Yes! I HAVE to have Truth in these moments. Nothing else will keep me stable. Nothing else offers lasting hope and encouragement.
Then in that same chapter she goes on to say:
“The closer I align my truth with His truth, the more closely I identify with God–and the more my identity really is in Him.”
That day when I felt left out of a simple ladies’ night, my identity was in question. I was putting my worth in whether or not I had been included. When the truth is that I have been included in the greatest relationship possible to mankind. God has welcomed me into His family, through the gift of His Son, and I am His. My identity is in Him. But it takes getting my eyes off of myself and looking to the promises in God’s Word in order for me to have confidence in my true identity.
A few weeks later I had dinner with two of my friends. I shared with them that the summer had left me feeling lonely and friendless. Do you know what? They were struggling with some of the same feelings! They felt the void of relationships from summers that were wonderful but busy, and we laughed over the fact that I thought they had planned their vacations without consulting me.
Feeling left out and lonely–no matter how old we are or how many friends we have–will happen to all of us.
But we don’t have to live in the lies that threaten us. We can receive the words of Truth and choose to believe that we have a forever and perfect friend in Jesus.