Do you ever wonder if your friends actually like you? Like maybe they’re just being nice because they feel obligated to.
With all of the upheaval of finding a new church, I’ve felt pretty insecure about my friendships. I’ve felt off when we all get together and uncertain about who my “real” friends really are. Certainly some of the people I’ve considered friends (if not most of them) were just hanging out with me because we happened to be at a lot of the same events. Most of them probably didn’t really like me. We were just part of the same group.
Do you ever feel that way?
A lot of times, my strategy with friends is not to be a bother. I feel like if I can make my presence unremarkable, I’ll out-last most other people and maybe a “real” friendship will actually form.
At the beginning of my recent insecurities, someone accused me of having people compete for me, which bothered me a lot. It bothers me still because it leaves me with a horrible sense that I’m a fraud.
Why on earth would anyone compete for me? I’ve wondered.
I’m not a particularly awesome friend. I’m not more fun than other people are. I’m not more compassionate, more understanding or more selfless. I’m not that skilled with a bow-staff 🙂
And so, I wonder if I’ve just managed to dupe everyone around me into thinking I’m something I’m not.
Because if they knew what I really am, they’d find someone else to compete over.
Then there’re the things that some of my friends said or thought as I was figuring out what to do about church. Even though I knew they didn’t mean what they said and that most of it wasn’t even close to the truth, the little insecurity seeds started growing into a mess of a weed garden, and I couldn’t convince myself of what I knew was the truth: people sometimes say things they don’t mean and/or aren’t true.
All I could think of was, Does everyone see me that way? and Did they always think that and it’s just coming out now?
and worst of all
Maybe none of them ever really liked me.
A couple of my friends have been going through a family emergency that was crazy-scary, and I’ve wanted so badly to just show up and have a long, crying hug with them. I also wanted to respect their boundaries because when I’m working through things, I generally want just a few people nearby. So… seeking a balance between being there and protecting their privacy, I called and sent texts and prayed. As my friends were coming out of the panic/urgent/emergency phase of it all, I sent one of those texts just to let them know I was still praying and thinking about them.
The next day, the friend let me know when she’d be available to hang out if I wanted to drop by.
And the voice inside my head was like, She doesn’t really like you; she just feels obligated. She doesn’t really want you around. You’ll just be a burden.
But, I really wanted to see her, so I sent her a text asking if I could bring her some Starbucks. She responded with enthusiasm, so I picked up the coffee and went over.
And the entire time, she kept telling me how great it was that I’d come over and how she felt like she was taking up my entire day. And it made me wonder if she struggles with that same stupid voice that’s in all of our heads that says, She doesn’t really like you; she just feels obligated. She doesn’t really want you around. You’ll just be a burden.
I wonder if we were both struggling with knowing whether we’re real friends or not.
That day ended up being one of the most wonderful and relaxing days I’ve had all summer. We didn’t do anything noteworthy; talked, played a little with her baby, moved furniture… But I like being around her. She’s never a burden to me. She multiplies the good in life and divides its evils.
And I feel conceited thinking this, but what if she likes being around me too? What if I’m not a burden? What if I multiply the good and divide the evil?
What if true friendship is an unmerited grace, and it’s okay that I’m not a particularly more awesome friend than other people are? What if no one is fun enough, compassionate enough, understanding enough or selfless enough? What if no one’s skill with a bow-staff is ever enough?
Maybe my friends just like me. I know that isn’t a very revolutionary thing to think about, but it’s sort of rocking my world right now.
Maybe they like me.