Thursday, March 22, 2012

Friendship, Security & Cabin Times

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and growth lately. My friend Stefany (Frencheny, as I like to call her in my head) wrote a great blog post about it based off of a trip we took last weekend. I was reminded that I have been very blessed, relationally. Because I grew up without many friends I value my relationships hugely – I am very aware of how lucky I am to have wonderful people around me who love me, and a relationship with a God who is perfect and loving, and have that define me.

I’ve been thinking about the role that insecurity plays in relationships. Or rather what it looks like to have relationships that are deep and foster security and safety. Growing up I had a lot of insecurity on me – I kind of wore it like a coat. I grew up without many friends – almost none in elementary school, near the end I’d have like one or two friends a year. Most days I got beat up or bullied. Some days I was just ignored. I was never sure which was worse, being totally not noticed? Or being noticed negatively?

This photo always breaks my heart - you can see my mom in the background touching me lovingly, you can see the strawberry shortcake hat and homemade strawberry shortcake cake and you know I'm loved...and yet you can see from my face that what I have been taught by my peers at school has deeply impacted 7 years old!

In junior high I had a small group of friends, but my insecurity made me believe they only let me hang around them because they felt sorry for me. In that group of friends there was a girl that loved to torment me. She told me daily that I was annoying, that no one liked me and that I was ugly. She threatened to beat me up if I came to the school dance or hung out with our friends outside of school. She had others say similar things to me as well, for some reason many people were under her thumb. And as much as I’d like to blame her for that, she obviously was dealing with a ton of issues…and so were the others that followed her. And I can’t put it all on her – there were a whole bunch of girls that loved to make fun of me, there were other cliques that tormented me (and other kids, I definitely wasn’t alone in the bullied department).

Thankfully at that time I had a great group of friends in youth group (what I would have done without them, I do not know – I lived for youth group), but they went to different schools, so the days stretched long for those three years. Junior high taught me the truth I’d always feared in elementary school; that my coat of insecurity wasn’t false, that it was true. That I was really everything I feared I was; too loud, awkward, selfish. It taught me that no one would really like me, and that no matter what I’d never quite be enough.

Then high school hit and I started to come into my own, people started to like me. I met new friends and was enjoyed! People liked me. I went to sleepovers and hang outs and it was clear that grade 10 was the best year ever. Those friendships have passed now (sadly) but I am so thankful for a first glimpse of what friendship could be. I started to also make friends in other groups, and have relationships across different grades and social structures. By the end of High school I had over 50 people at my birthday party; I began to understand the joy that can fill your heart when people get you, as kooky as you are, and love you anyways.

Because, look, I was pretty kooky then:

The insecurity was still there; but I began to wonder if maybe it wasn’t truth. If maybe the people that liked me could be right, that there was something special about me. I was terrified to even think that though; I wanted it to be true so badly.

When I left high school, I left church…and slowly I left God. I had some relationships that were broken, some friendships that burnt and I retreated from what I knew. I embraced a life of partying and the friends that came with. And surprisingly, there I found some friends that I still have to this day. I didn’t leave behind my insecurity, but I threw something even stronger at it – false confidence, promiscuity and alcohol. Those two can mask any number of insecurities. I managed to convince myself that I was ok…that if I drank enough, that if I slept with enough guys and if I was funny enough, that it was all ok. I convinced myself that I had created a new self, a new Tara. But really, all I did was hide the real Tara further from people, without realizing it. Everything was a show, until I got super drunk and cried and repeated that often. Everything was a performance and it was tiring.

Throughout these years, I had a few friends that really became heart friends. They saw through the insecurity, the show, the fake self, and saw who I really was. Friends that saw me in my crap and still liked me. Those are friends I still care for deeply…having moved away I don’t see them often but oh do those relationships mean a lot. One of those friends was even in my wedding, and a few of them were also able to come to my wedding – and it meant so much to have them there.

When I decided to go back to God, I knew I had to believe who he said I was and stand in his security and significance. I also knew a large part of that would entail having real friendships. Friendships like the ones I just mentioned. I knew that this needed to be the trademark of my relationships and not the exception, like in the past. So I decided to trust God – to trust that he was my security and my significance. That I could be me, safely in Him. That he made me on purpose and by design. And then, I began to walk in that. People said I was more confident, but really I just began to understand who God said I was. And from that place I could foster real, deep, safe, intimate relationships. These relationships are built from openness. You cannot build a relationship with someone if you never share who you are. You cannot build a relationship with someone if you never learn who they are. Depth of relationship comes from honesty and vulnerability. We must trust that God has us covered, and from there we can be ourselves.

It has been 5 years now since I made these last decisions. When I meet people, I am unashamedly me. And I hope that as I do that, they will return the favor. And generally they do. I can sense when someone is honest and authentic – and I always respond to that, I think we all would. So that is my goal.

Now I’ve tried this to varying degrees of success – sometimes this is received well, people can be trust-worthy and responsive….other times people aren’t the safe place I’d hoped. But I still think it is the best way to grow real and healthy relationships – and in those less than safe placed I get to watch God guard me, win win!

This is something we’ve been talking about at lifegroup – as Christians, what is the standard we are to reach for in our relationships? What does it look like to steward friendships? What does it look like to be responsive to God? What does it look like to have fun and depth in friendship? Because it can be tricky to try to “have it all” but God is fun, and funny and amusing…and he is depth and healing and wholeness. I want relationships that are both.

This weekend, as Stefany mentioned in her blog, 16 of us went away to a cabin outside of Pemberton. The weekend wasn’t about the snow or getting away, but being together away from life. I had wonderful talks with different women and I am so thankful for a time to get away and debrief with people. I know the guys had great talks amongst themselves as well, and when we returned to Vancouver and had life group on Tuesday, we had an amazingly beautiful conversation about what friendship and discipleship look like for us. There were many voices all wanting to share and I got to play the role of mediator. People shared their hopes, their hurts and their experiences. We learned about where each of us comes from and what it looks like for each of us to feel loved. We argued and prayed and agreed and shouted and had silence and laughed. And it was so fun watching everyone come together to figure out how we can be more healthy, more welcoming, more Christ centered. What a great truth to fight for.

And here...some photos to prove I have friends and fun: 

The drive up: Sea to Sky

 The Duerrings Cabin

Me, ensconsed in a wall bad. So happy.
Also I've since lost that book, dang it!

Me with Jodi and Stefany. Happy!

The flat on our car:

Working on it:

The girls all stood around and took pictures.
Behind Stefany, in the car, is Lyndsay who is also taking pictures.

While we waited, we went for a walk

Jodi and Stefany held hands

This seemed beautiful

In colour also:

It was snowy!
Stefany posted many photos of the couch building, so I'll skip those, you can see them on her blog. They're better than mine since she is a photographer.

But here are some others moments from the snow time:
Paul Ice Fishing 

My husband was very  happy.

We also cooked food

Here my cousin John ate some of it 

Look, people cooking and people rolling a snow ball for the couch. Awesome!

It was gorgeous

I was so glad Gabe brought the lovely sunshine along

She made me a snow man.
Can you tell that it is miniature and has a dorito nose?

The drive home was GORGEOUS
Like for realz
We headed home for bacon wrapped steaks cooked over the fire, BP's roasted in the fire, and veggies baked or roasted. It was awesome. Then we made Apple Bombs. Get ready for it.
This was us making them: Laura and Sunshine were my workers.

For apple bombs you core apples and stuff them full of brown sugar, cinnamon and raising. Then you wrap them in foil and bake them on the fire. Tastes like apple pie.

Later we sat outside around the fire.
I tried to capture the moment with Paul.
He looks inebriated.
Oh well.
Also John popped his head into the photo. Classic cousin.

So we tried again.
Nope, my sleepy husband still looks drunk.

Anyways...great weekend.
Many stories of crazy car troubles and epic meals
(that's right, I said my meal planning on the weekend was epic, ha!)

All in all a perfect weekend.

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