I don’t sugarcoat or make small talk.
I’m a straight shooter and people apparently find that intimidating.
I know who I am and what I want.
So…I struggle making friends.
Perhaps this is a season that will pass.
Maybe I’m just always on a stepping stone to somewhere else.
I’m always on the lookout for like-minded weirdos, but there always seems to be some hindrance to that.
We move around a lot.
Sometimes the hindrance is me.
I know I have issues.
The hindrance is sometimes totally on someone else.
It’s important to be able to discern it.
Once you reach age 40, maybe you should have more of your shit together. You’ve had plenty of time and resources for self-loathing, therapy, grief, addiction recovery, getting to know yourself, parenting (even if you have to re-parent yourself), whatever you’ve dealt with. I’m really sorry about all of it, but I dealt with a lot of it too.
I understand your façade of a perfectionistic, yourwayorthehighway cold-hearted bitch hides your falling apart life, but I will not get into it with you over which hymn we should sing on Palm Sunday. It’s just not worth the argument. I will still smile and shake your hand during greeting time at church. And I like your boots.
I can overlook a lot, so much. I can smile and be friendly. But if you have severe unresolved personal issues? Then I don’t want to friend you on Facebook and have you stalk me online. I don’t want to have coffee or a meal with you. I don’t want to sit through a planning meeting with you. I don’t want to share responsibility on some committee with you. I don’t want my kids in a situation where you’re an authority figure over them.
These are things I realize:
A lot of people are lonely.
We live in a society where we’re all connected online, but we don’t know the name of our neighbors on our street. Coworkers are just acquaintances. The people we see in church each week are just a handshake.
We’re isolated by busyness. We make sure we don’t have time to slow down enough to think about our pain.
We don’t have role models who show us how to be friends. Our parents all worked full time and were busy too. Many of us are from broken homes. We were latchkey kids.
We were taught to fear and never trust others.
We think stress, anxiety, depression are normal.
We try to hide our loneliness with stuff. We constantly try to fill that hole with food, drugs, alcohol, shoes, scrapbooking, diets, throwing our kids into a gazillion after-school activities…
Friendliness is misconstrued as manipulation. We overthink it. Why are they smiling? Is something in my teeth? What do they want?
There’s a lot of unnecessary judgment.
Some judgment is healthy.
We need to judge the right moment to cross a busy street. We need to judge whether it’s cardi temperature or if we need a heavier jacket.
We need to discern right from wrong in many gray areas.
Judging others because of their clothing choices or their car or their Christmas decorations can hinder friendship. It’s silly.
Except the 25-foot Rudolph in the front yard across the street. That’s scary.
We’re all trying so hard to impress others with the wrong things for the wrong reasons that we miss out on so much.
It’s harder to understand tone and meaning online. Everything typed comes across as harsher, more sarcastic, cold.
Putting LOL or JK or an emoji after a mean comment doesn’t make it better.
And we’re all so good not recognizing our own sins or hangups.
“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5
What about toxicity?
We are called to judge immoral behavior within the church.
Let that sink in a moment.
We are not called to judge outsiders or unbelievers.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside. 1 Corinthians 5:12-13
If you have a problem with someone, discuss it in love and in private.
Three strikes, you’re out.
Don’t make room for toxicity in your life. I don’t have room or time for it.
“If your brother sins against you, go and rebuke him in private. If he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he won’t listen, take one or two more with you, so that by the testimony of two or three witnesses every fact may be established. If he pays no attention to them, tell the church. But if he doesn’t pay attention even to the church, let him be like an unbeliever and a tax collector to you. Matthew 18:15-17
It’s hard to balance on that fence of healthy and unhealthy judgment.
Sometimes, we’re awkward.
I’m usually very awkward, especially around new people.
I kinda embrace my awkwardness now. My foot and mouth are intimately acquainted no matter how hard I try to be tactful. I’m just not graceful.
Lots of people have anxiety or awkwardness.
I try to discern whether someone is being really rude or if they’re just awkward. I really hate that whole “trying to have a conversation with someone and they’re constantly looking over your shoulder for someone else better.” That’s just rude.
Greeting time at church is a nightmare for me as an introvert. I avoid a lot of events with crowds or stick to being a wallflower.
I think it’s also true that we worry so much about what others think and they’re worrying so much about what others think that we’re not thinking about each other at all.
We all experience seasons.
Sometimes we’re more social or need to be alone or life circumstances bring us together or pull us apart.
People going through similar circumstances like to do that together.
I wouldn’t really know.
I never succeeded with pregnancy groups, MOPS, mom meetups, military wives clubs, or weight loss meetings.
I’m a leader.
I’m a teacher.
I have taught classes on single motherhood, finances, parenting, natural living, Sunday school.
I’m not a joiner.
I’m not a good student.
I don’t like meetings, lectures, or effing parties where I’m expected to buy jewelry, leggings, kitchen tools, or essential oils.
It’s always been hard for me to fit in.
I guess we don’t fit a stereotype. We have 4 kids. We’re a military family. We homeschool.
I cringe a lot when all people want to talk about are crappy TV shows or teen novels. And I don’t do small talk.
We’ve all experienced suffering.
This can be an alienating situation or it can bring us together.
Maybe it’s a terminal illness.
Maybe the stress of having a special needs child.
Abuse. Assault. PTSD.
The list goes on and on.
And you know? What I’ve suffered is no worse to me than what you’ve suffered is to you.
It’s not a contest as to who has suffered more or worse.
We’re all in this together.
The church is a house for the broken. It is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.
People of faith are nurses, doctors, counselors…and patients – wherever they go. With arms wide open.