It is the most difficult aspect of my life. I've had much pain here and it's where I struggle the most at ignoring the ever so annoying voices.
My precious and gentle six-year-old boy is frustrated with another boy his age; a classmate of his who is "annoying" and as my son says, "it's a bummer!"
True. Difficulties with friends and annoying people can be such a bummer, buddy!
I've been disappointed and hurt from as far back as I can even remember, and it's been in the place where I should have felt the most safe. I'm learning now as a parent, myself, that just because a person is made a parent doesn't mean that she (or he) has it all together. Even the people who are supposed to keep their children safe and secure can be the ones who cause the most pain.
The difficulties in growing up and navigating through social networks continues long into a person's life. On the playing field, in the classroom, or the boardroom, and even as parents compete for their child to have their spot on the playing field or in a school; after all, aren't our own children the absolute best there ever was and will be?!
Competition is natural for all of us and with that goes fear, anxiety and pain from the hurt we each cause each other. Even though it's natural, it doesn't mean developing skills to cope and work through the difficulties isn't important. It is better when we use the difficult experiences to grow and help others.
I feel so incapable here. I didn't anticipate that I'd be having that conversation with my son at the dinner table already, and later still as I clean up and do the dishes. I didn't envision that we'd be talking long after we sat down and that he'd be as honest as he was last night. Even though I know he has feelings, I am not prepared for the "Mommy, please help me...please call [his] Mommy...please ask that [he] not play basketball and do the same sports as me!"
In this world of social media frenzy - facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn - we are faced with a choice. Do we take the convenient route and masquarade acquaintances for friendship because it's convenient that way? Or do we take the time to build and develop relationships? It may mean taking us away from our family for an hour or two to make a phone call and reconnect with a friend. Or it may mean pulling out paper and pen to write a heartfelt note. Or it may just mean building family vacations around visiting friends and their families.
This past year I have felt a tug - a prompting - toward building relationships and it's been uncomfortable.
Some of the promptings I have felt are mostly centered around the neighborhood we moved into, only six months ago. I have stopped running to introduce myself to two different women who I had crossed paths with several times; and I walked over to one of their houses and invited her (and her husband) to join our Fantasy Football league. I delivered cookies to another woman who was moving into our neighborhood, and then invited she and her family over for dinner. And then I invited that same woman and her son to join me and my son for an outing at a petting zoo; when we got got there late and received a "rain check" to come back another time I brought another woman who I hadn't ever met (and her kids), and who I frequently saw as I passed her house. I've delivered cookies with my son to the elderly gentleman next door who lost his beloved bride a year ago, and then we brought him a few more for "Santa" at Christmas time. A few more families have received zucchini bread, and cookies, and apple crisp, and homemade cinnamon rolls.
I don't share this to boast. Not in the least bit.
Each act of kindness this past year was totally random and unplanned by me, and each was incredibly uncomfortable for me. It's my nature to hover inside and keep to myself, and the lies that I'm worthless and no one cares anyway are often my companions. And yet, I've discovered Grace for me - true love - each time I have stepped out and toward someone else. Even blogging is stepping out and when no one comments on my posts and I see so (so! so! so!) many other people out there in the blogging world I can't help but wonder why I do it, and who cares, and I'm not a good writer anyway.
So now that this post sounds like I'm bragging and then having a self-pity party, I will point out the real point and that is that life is all about choices.
I am the happiest and most at peace when I follow those promptings, as uncomfortable as they sometimes are. So, I'll keep on reaching out, and writing, and doing whatever it is that helps me to trust...and explore...and be who I was created to be. And when my son needs help, I'll courageously step up when called - even if I have no idea what to say to him because I'm facing the same issues. Maybe, just maybe my own weaknesses will help him and not hurt him.
Investing in real, genuine relationships are the most meaningful use of my life. Even if I don't have anyone else on the receiving end, my real love is for the God who created each person who I am led to, and He is my forever friend. Surface level relationships that are more like acquaintances are often kept up only when it's convenient. I'm choosing what's most difficult versus what is convenient - and it's a good choice, for me.