Confession: I’m envious.
Do you hear it? Listen carefully for it’s the echo of an ache.
This is the fifth piece I have written in response to the “Friends?” phrase prompt for September. Plan six was to inform the Red Tent Living editors that I would not be writing this month. You know writer’s block or some such explanation. Partially a true statement, as words jammed in my gut and writing has been difficult.
I could have written a whimsical piece about my longing for a puppy. Although it’s a true desire, it’s not what stirs my heart these days. And, I think somehow… you would have known.
By the time I was a senior in high school, I had moved twenty-six times and it was my eleventh school to attend. Yes, I was the new girl catching up in junior classes to meet graduation requirements for the spring. Several in my small graduating class, did not know I was a senior until the advent of ceremonies. Needless to say, I won’t be posting on my Facebook status a “back in the day” kindergarten photo, of an enduring and dear childhood friendship.
Oh how I wish I could…
Moving was one of those “both/and” kind of experiences. It was difficult always being the new girl, alone, gawked at with whispers right in front of your face. My stomach still flips a bit walking into a room full of strangers. Lunch was the worst, followed by the threat of getting lost roaming unknown halls of those many schools.
With the next move always on the horizon, any friendships forged were usually lost. Oh, there might be a few letters back and forth in late elementary or junior high. Backs of envelopes splashed with poems like: De-liver, De-letter, De-sooner, De-better. Promises of “friends forever”, but for all practical purposes those friendships died – whisked off to the new adventure, as told by the grownups. With the added benefit of leaving behind friendships that crushed my heart and ended in rivalry or betrayal, yet the fear of being alone shadowed my every move.
No surprise, I guarded my heart. To unpack Robyn fully, only to be hastily moved one more time…yeah, not gonna happen. I learned as a very little girl that was way too painful. Thus, I held my heart out very intentionally. With a firm grip to pull it back quickly and close as needed. Now, I’m not saying this was the best way to live out my school age years, but it seemed to work for me at least, kind of, at the time. I did what I could to manage the pain. It simply was easier to shut down my heart.
I’ll admit, today I find myself in a similar space – holding my heart out ever so intentionally with a careful grip. Not because I’m worried about moving, but you know, just in case. A default setting profoundly rooted well within my core.
For you see, it has been a season where my heart has been opposed, stomped upon, refused and disappointed. It’s hard to love the next person if the previous one killed you. Sound dramatic? Possibly. Yet, isn’t that how it feels? Sadly, I too have done these very same things. And it deeply grieves my heart.
Friendship is a high and holy thing, and a two way street. Friendships are also messy. They are not for the faint of heart.
Even more than outing my envy, if I listen carefully, my heart requests that I surrender to desire.
Gut reaction: AGH!! This sounds absolutely crazy, out of control, dangerous and diametrically opposed to all my growing up years. Surrender asks me to present my cautiously held heart unto life, not death.
I’m not a school age girl any longer. I have grown. I have tasted and savored sacred relationships. I have never heard anyone call me faint of heart. And it groans with desire to engage the peril and walk the ever-turbulent joyous path of true friendship.
Recently in separate conversations, two of my friends took the risk to ask that we define our friendship. It was chancy and potentially very messy. I’m not going to lie, it felt uncomfortable. However, I found my heart ready, not fearful of either conversation. Even with no idea of what would be spoken or relational outcome. It felt honoring to each of our spirits. I loved that!
Truth: I war sporadically with this sacred desire – yes, no, maybe so – we all have the battle. And I want more!
My grown-up heart can hold and experience the burn of disappointments with rest and not fear. While loneliness in relationship is inevitable, in kindness I will tend this ache for the rest of my earthly life. How? By honoring my desire, which requires entering the pain of disappointment and holding with honor the fullness of me and the fullness of others – a truly stunning way to love one another don’t you think? And on the days when I don’t hold anything well, when I feel like the new girl…
Tomorrow is a new day!
Robyn Whitaker lives in Texas with her beloved husband of 34 years. She has an adventurous heart that is learning to breathe. Lover of truth, seeker of story, aspiring author and newborn dreamer, this mother of three is in search of redemption and living her Kingdom purpose. Robyn writes here. n
I remember the MANY days of being the new girl in the new school and I too feel the lingering effects from what those experiences did to my young heart. Risking in friendship, then and now, so hard. I love the idea of tending the ache. Thanks for your honesty Robyn.
Many moves sure picks away at a child’s heart. Sad we have this in common. Hoping for both of us – kindness in the tending.
Robyn, I was not often the new girl at school, but I learned early through bitter experience that no friendship survives my own or others failures. I resonate deeply with the ache you describe and love how you are honoring it. Thank you for sharing so freely!
Jeanette, first of all thank you! And then, wow I hear you! It seems friendships are just risky business for the heart. And what we’re made for. Can sure be a conundrum for ones heart.
“Surrender asks me to present my cautiously held heart unto life, not death…My grown-up heart can hold and experience the burn of disappointments with rest and not fear.” I’ll be pondering this thought today. Thank you for sharing your experience so honestly and beautifully.
Susan, Thank you for your kind words. I have to remind my heart a lot that I am not 14 any longer. That I have new resources to deal with disappointment and hurts that I didn’t have back in the day. I’m way better at remembering on some days than others. 🙂
“Surrender asks me to present my cautiously held heart unto life, not death.” Love these words and the invitation to choose life. Thank you Robyn!
Ellen, thank you for reading my post and commenting. Death can call pretty loud at times. And I long to choose life more and more each and every day! You are indeed invited! And me too!
Robyn, this writing is stellar and your reality heartbreaking and unbelievable. I had no idea that you moved that many times. What?! My head and heart are reeling with the reality you lived. These sentences, especially, haunt me: “No surprise, I guarded my heart. To unpack Robyn fully, only to be hastily moved one more time…yeah, not gonna happen. I learned as a very little girl that was way too painful. Thus, I held my heart out very intentionally. With a firm grip to pull it back quickly and close as needed.” I understand why you wrote the comment that you did when I wrote about my friend Jane. I think you are a courageous woman and saying a defiant “no” to being alone and not having friends. I love your heart to redeem! Looking forward to seeing you soon. And, I long to know you better.
I’m looking for my “Jane.” I believe I just had lunch with her today. 🙂 I look forward to seeing you next week! And the opportunity to know you better? I long for that too.
Wow Robyn! I so admire your deep honesty and transparency in your writing. I am so sorry for your loneliness in this area. Moving, struggling to find your way in so many new schools and the felt need to guard your heart, break my heart for you!
September 16, 2015 at 10:46 am
“Surrender asks me to present my cautiously held heart unto life, not death.” Yes!
Thank you for sharing!
Kathy, grateful for our friendship. Wish you lived closer!