Thursday, September 20, 2007

These are my peeps

(Disclaimer: Better grab yourself a cup of joe before you start reading, 'cause this is gonna be a long one!)

The last several months I've been on a long ride downward, mentally speaking. A few of you reading this know this for sure, mostly because I have a big mouth and I have to vent. (Thanks to you all who stuck with me and listened, listened, and then listened some more and then prayed, prayed and prayed some more!) I've been facing an inward battle, that of really low self-esteem, coupled with self-loathing and HUGE insecurity problems. I'm not sure when it started, but it came on fast and hard. Long story short(ish), I viewed myself as worth no value. I thought I was ugly, both outwardly and inwardly. I thought I was fat. I gained about ten pounds (fourteen at the biggest) when I stopped smoking last August. (August 4th was a year, yea for me!!) Since September of last year I've been feverishly trying everything I knew to lose the weight, from crash diets to obsessive workouts.

I'm not sure why my physical appearance bothered me so much, but it did. And then as I was gaining weight all of my closest friends were dropping weight, as though it was literally melting off their bodies. This was made worse by the fact that they weren't even trying to. UGGHHH!!

This all bothered me, but then it got worse: Suddenly I was very insecure with ALL of my friendships. Those friendships that were rock solid suddenly weren't, at least in my mind they weren't. This year for my birthday Paul invited my closest friends to dinner in my honor. I remember walking in the restaurant and TRULY believing that those women weren't there for me, they were there to see each other. My birthday was just an excuse for them to get together.

I'm writing all of this personal junk for one reason: to bring it into the light. If I admit all of this stuff then it has no power over me anymore. That's what I want the very most - for it all to lose its sting. I'm not looking for pity. I don't want you to think I'm a basket case. I just want to let go of it all.

Sunday September 9th, 2007 was a turning point.

I was feeling like I had broken through most of this stuff, like I had finally loosened the rope with the heavy rock around my neck just in time to come up for air before drowning. But then in one last attempt Satan took aim and struck yet again. But it didn't work this time. I won't get into the specifics, only because it would be an even longer story, but I will tell you some. I was feeling quite badly about myself at church that morning and again was obsessing over my friendships. After service I ran into a friend and managed to mutter a "How are you?" The response I got wasn't a bit believable, so I pressed for the truth. What she said next absolutely broke through my pity. If I was drowning she was the one who, unbeknownst to her, had just thrown out the BIGGEST life vest. That single conversation ended months of pain, sorrow and tears.

Thank you Rachel.

Now that I feel this desert season has ended I can look back and see what was gained. God spoke so much to me. I feel I got a lot of big revelations, most of which I blogged about at different times. I'm so thankful we have such a loving God. Even in times of hardship He teaches us. And he uses it all to His glory.

Anyway, all of this self-reflection has made me think about who I am. Who I want to be. If I feel like I'm not getting what I need in my friendships then I have to believe that the road is a two-way street. So what do you need from me that I'm not giving you? This has been my prayer, that I can love you all how YOU need to be loved, not how I need to be loved. So this is my intention, to give you what you need from me. I have made it a determination to ask each of you that question. But also it's made me think of each of you and what you mean to me. So I've decided I need to tell you. Right now. I don't want to wait. I want you to know NOW what you mean to me. I don't want to read it as a eulogy later. (God willing it will be decades and decades from now for each of us.)

So here goes. Please know that if you're not on this list it's not because I don't love you dearly. And it's not my intention to hurt anyone or leave anyone out. Jesus had his "favorite 12" but I'm sure he considered many more than that his friend. These are my peeps, the ones I spend most my days with, and I want them to know how I feel. It's kinda like your kids, you love them so much, but sometimes in totally different ways - not one more than the other. So please accept this for what it is, a gift I give to each of you. You can decide to untie the ribbons and open it, or you can reject it and think I'm a total nut job. Let me know which one you chose. (P.S. -- these are in alphabetical order!)

Vallorie B. -- You've known me longer than my husband has. We were the best of friends at a time in my life where I really needed to know I was worth loving. Gosh, we had some great times, didn't we? Remember when we took the hoopty van to KC for some Taco Bell?!?! Then got busted 'cause Amy forgot her cup in the back. You knew me in my "age of innocence". We may have let eight years pass without so much as a word between us, but you will always be someone special to me.

Jennifer C. -- Nine years we've been friends. EVERYTHING has changed in our lives since we first met. You befriended me at a time when God stood silent in my heart, and loved me warts and all. Some of those warts have been removed, but even more still remain. You've never made me feel like I wasn't loved for exactly who I am. I miss all those smoke breaks, sitting on the stairs of the Epic Center on beautiful days, wishing we were anywhere but at work. I look forward to December, standing next to you as you give your heart to the one you love.

Wendy G. -- You are one of the most amazing women I've ever met in my life. I have looked on in horror as the enemy has tried his best to kill you, and watching you emerge victorious from that has changed my life forever. You are a rock of a person with more fortitude than I will ever think to have. Thank you for always turning me back to God when I go astray. Your friendship means so much to me. You make me want to be a better person. Remember the Fall Fest when we jumped in the moonwalk together? You made me laugh so hard.

Lacy H. -- You have more will power and self-control than I have ever known one person to have. I envy that about you. I love that you're always so steadfast in everything you do. Thank you for having patience with me, and for your endless knowledge on strengthening and developing our physical bodies for the glory of Christ. Our "practice" run together last winter was a memory I won't soon forget. Thanks for never telling me how slow I really was. We share so many like experiences from our childhood that I feel a "oneness" with you. You understand where I've come from, which is priceless to me.

Rachel K. -- How a couple of years has changed us both. I will never forget that day in Purpose class when you opened up about a problem you were having. That was the first time that I knew for sure we were friends. You and I share so many personality traits - I love it! Your sense of humor always keeps me laughing. You are one heck of a prayer warrior, I always feel safe from harm when I know you're praying for me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for opening up to me. Please know you're not alone, ever.

Maria M. -- It feels like years. You have become more than a best friend, you are my family. I'll never forget the first time you told me that I was your best friend. I hope I still am. I hope I will always be. Remember the scripture I put in a card? "There was an immediate bond of love between them, and they became the best of friends." 1 Samuel 18:1. If friends had a life verse, that would be mine to you. I can't imagine my life without you. Thank you for loving me, never judging me, always encouraging me. I aspire to be the woman you are - kind, gentle, patient. I can't wait to do more silly things with you -- remember the water slides in Withrow Springs?!

Stephanie W. -- You're such a great friend to me. Thank you for holding your tongue so much. Come on, I know there are times you just wanna tell me what an idiot I'm being! You are the kind of person I can be thirteen with again -- completely silly. We can talk about things that I think others would look down upon me for. Thanks for being blunt and candid, I LOVE our frank discussions. You're a great friend.

Okay, so I think I'm done now. I just had to get that off my chest. Thanks for reading my self-imposed counseling session.

Now you know my peeps. Pretty great, aren't they?


Rachel said...

Makin' me cry! Thanks Jamie. I thank God for the friends that are in my life now--I never dreamed I would have the kind of relationships that I do. You are such a blessing to me.

Maria. said...

Ditto! It is good to see how relationships work in our lives to change us and mold us into the women that the Lord needs us to be. All my love girl!