When I was a kid I had a hard time with friendship. Mostly that I didn’t understand it a whole lot.
Being a highly intelligent girl meant that my interests were not within a societal norm.
Being a child of the “Jesus Movement” meant I was extremely sheltered.
Being a child of an ADD hippy meant I lived in a hobbit hole (literally a house under a hill) in the middle of woods with no neighbors to learn social skills from.
I got through elementary school just fine. Thankfully there were a few other girls in my school who were just as intelligent and clueless as I was.
Fast forward into adulthood, and not much has changed.
Recently my oldest daughter was diagnosed with Asperger’s. After reading all the good books on girls with Asperger’s I came to the conclusion that I must also have it.
I secretly made an appointment for a diagnostic testing.
I was a little surprised and confused when the answer ended up being ADD instead.
And then I was disappointed.
Why? Because I would love to have an excuse for why I am still struggling with friendship. Why I still don’t get it.
I’ve tried it all;
I’ve read books.
I’ve tried copying other people.
I’ve changed my ‘look’.
I’ve faked interest in other people’s hobbies.
I’ve read a 1,500 page book over a weekend to share a topic with a group of moms.
I’ve been the ‘yes’ person.
I’ve donated time, money and my talents.
I’ve given my heart and soul to the lives of those around me in an effort to earn their friendship.
Yet, I’ve been unsuccessful.
I go through cycles.
Sometimes I tell myself that all I need is God and my best friend, my husband.
Sometimes I tell myself that my life is too busy anyway. I mean I do have 6 kids and homeschool.
And then every time I go to the same place; I’m not worth it.
I mean, who would want to be friends with me? I’m pathetic!
Maybe if I didn’t try to hard people could stand to be around me.
It’s not only poisonous, it’s degenerative.
Does anyone know? Probably not.
I really doubt people have any idea I’m starving for a close friend. Someone like I had when I was a kid.
Then I had this funny realization; how would anyone know?
Sure, I pour my heart out pretty regularly on this blog, but what about everywhere else?
If you were to scroll my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you would see a pretty happy (other than the occasional child complaint) adult woman.
So, if I’m not myself on social media, is anyone else?
What about the moms I see at the playground? Or the people at church? What about my neighbors?
Chances are, that many of them too are struggling behind a mask of contentment while their heart is yearning for more, or desperate for change or broken for love.
I have found that many times people are suffering in similar areas without recognizing the suffering of the person next to them. Not only are we good at hiding our own issues, we are good at ignoring others’ as well.
For so much of my life I have put parameters on the relationships that I build. That somehow they must fit inside the prescribed box.
What if it didn’t have to be that way at all?
Jesus was in His early 30′s when He started His ministry. We have NO idea what His personal life looked like before then.
During His ministry most of the people He was surrounded by had absolutely nothing in common with Him.
What if that is the point?
What if we have spent so much time boxing the idea of friendship into incredibly small parameters that we’ve left no room for the possibility of the reverse?
Yes. I am a stay at home mom, I homeschool my kids, I’m married, I have a house, I love science, and I can’t do anything active because of my chronic illness.
But what if the friend I’ve been looking for is younger or older?
Lives in a yurt?
And does marathons?
They will have to love science though. That’s the one standard I can’t let go.
If we are all closing ourselves off, hiding behind our societal masks, a lot of people will be left without someone in their corner. They won’t have someone to help them, to go to bat for them, to care for them or to love them.
How About You?
If you looked at friendship differently, who would you start to include?
Still thinking this through,