Sunday, April 29, 2012

I am a disappointment.

Don't worry, I am so not that self-deprecating...(it's a catchy title though! :)

I've always considered myself to be a good friend, but looking back through the glasses of time and perspective, there have been a few bumps in the road. Whether those bumps were put there by me or not isn't important, they just were there.

My best friend and I are going on 12 years of best friendship, the last 10 of which have been long distance. I've always maintained that the reason we've made it this far is due in large part, surprisingly, to the distance, it's actually been our friend. We fell into the habit long ago of not communicating on a daily basis, but saving most of our life stuff for the few times a year we get together. We'll call each other occasionally and big life events always get a call immediately. For the most part though, we don't know the daily goings on, but we know everything there is to know about each other. For some reason, the distance has been kind to us; we always appreciate one another, we never fight (which I know isn't always healthy), and always look forward to carving out time in life's busy schedule for some quality BFF time, whenever we do manage to connect in the same time and same place.

Where this example has hurt me is not in my friendship with her, but in my friendship with others. I've come to not expect too much from my friends (not in a bad way though), the knowledge that they will always be there for me and I them has been enough. Couple this with an entire adult life of transition and constant hello and goodbyes, and this has gotten me into trouble. Trouble by not being dependable enough, investing enough, being there enough. I've gotten pretty jaded, I suppose. From my early twenties I spent a few years as a missionary, a quite transitory lifestyle. People were always leaving to go on short or long term mission trips, or I was. I learned how to say goodbye without feeling crushed (but boy did I learn that one the hard way), and how to say hello very well. After my time as a missionary ended (although, does it ever really end?), I married into the military and immediately moved to a different state. Needless to say, this lifestyle is almost more transitory than the last. My time previously has helped me to maintain a positive spirit (well...most days) about it, but I have discovered that I have carefully guarded my heart against letting anyone in too close, knowing that the inevitable move, whether ours or theirs, is, well...inevitable.

This school of thought has left my road littered with a few casualties, and that is something I deeply regret. I believe that we never stop learning and growing, I am only sorry that my lesson learned came with the cost of hurting some very dear people to me.
While I have learned to guard my heart (and that isn't a bad thing in itself, as long as we are guarding it against the proper things), it has been at quite an expense. When it is against people, the good people in your life, it's really no way to live, it is quite empty and life-stealing, not giving.

So, I am a disappointing person. I hurt the people I love, and I protect myself at a cost I am finally learning is way too high. But here's the thing: everyone is disappointing. God created each of us so uniquely, and with that individuality comes differences. We can allow those differences to divide us, or to help us grow and unite us. We will all hurt one another, whether intentional or not, we will all disappoint. Is that reason enough to end friendships, to move on? Perhaps that may be a factor into why the divorce rate is so high, people fall out of love once the reality of life and our differences come to light, and it's too hard or painful to work through...except that it's not, but the alternative really really is.

I may have lost someone who was once thoroughly enmeshed in my life, and I just can not come to terms with that. I have yet to come across a person who was not worth saving, or a friendship not worth saving. I am discovering that the key is vulnerability. Opening ourselves up, letting that guard down, and being prepared to be hurt. Because it will happen. I believe that an important aspect of the healing process is realizing our self worth, and realizing that our friends are equally worthy.
Don't give up. Keep letting your guard down. Keep letting people all the way in. Keep fighting for the friendship. In my relatively short life so far, every friendship has ALWAYS been worth that inevitable goodbye.
Open your heart, more and more every day, and keep it open.