I have often wondered if I have “Buzz Off” tattooed on my forehead in special ink that other people can see, but I can’t. It might explain some of my difficulties making friends. Last week, in the midst of a difficult and tear-filled day, a couple of people told me that they were ‘here’ for me, if I wanted to talk. I have every reason to believe that they sincerely care, but when you’re a mess, you want a friend. There are times you only want to share with someone whom you know accepts you as you are and loves you unconditionally. It bothered me that the offerings of friendship don’t seem to be the same when I am doing okay. I was contemplating this when the truth hit me: of course people aren’t trying to be my friend, I have a twelve-foot-high wall around me.
Being single can feel like universal rejection. It is a foundation that I have built upon, one brick at a time. Each brick has a name or incident inscribed on it. They represent rejection, betrayal, and hurt. They are limbs that I crept out onto, which broke under my weight. They are the many times that I wanted to be someone’s friend and got shot down, overlooked, or left hanging. They are times I saw someone else chosen instead of me. I know that everyone experiences some of this in life, and I wonder if perhaps I am more sensitive to it. Certainly being an introvert who struggles with depression doesn’t help matters.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.
A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
I’m sure that my sense of ‘universal rejection’ goes too far because I sometimes feel rejected by people I don’t actually know. I feel that because no one has ever wanted me, no one else thinks that I am worth their time. Yes, I am sure that some of this is only in my head, but reality is difficult to discern when you have no way to gauge what people really think. This little fort I’ve made for myself is comfortable. There is something reassuring about my routine and the status quo of life, even if it’s lonely. And a couple of intrepid friends have gotten through, over the past decade or so, and I thank God for them.
As I was contemplating my figurative wall, I thought about God’s role in building and tearing down actual walls. He brought down the walls of Jericho and gave conquering victory to Joshua and the people of Israel. He also prospered the work of Nehemiah and the people to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem when that city lay in ruins. God had allowed the devastation, yet in His time, He blessed the work of those who had it in their hearts to rebuild. The walls and fortresses of the world are in God’s hands.
My life and my wall are in God’s hands, too. Proverbs instructs to “guard your heart.” (Proverbs 4:23 – NIV) God knows that I need protection, and some of that responsibility is mine. He does not want me to be foolish. Some people put God to the test by refusing what is available to them for their health and safety. They say they want to leave their lives in God’s hands, as though they wouldn’t be, otherwise. He can keep us from the consequences of our folly, but His word is clear that He wants us to seek wisdom. I can’t say that it honors God for me to be closed off, but neither would it honor Him to leave myself wide open. Still, He is able to strengthen these invisible barriers, or He can remove them. My job is to seek His will for my life and listen to the Spirit’s leading in my interactions with other people.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. . . And we urge you, brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone.
1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14-15
Given the events of last week, and my lifelong struggle to control my speech, it is clear that my interactions with others are an area where I am especially in need of God’s help. I need to give my heart, my attitudes, and my relationships of all kinds over to Him. How I want to be a woman after His heart! But I am so sinful; I can’t do anything good without His help. Praise God, He has promised to be with me, and He has given His Spirit to me. For years, He has used my grief and loneliness to draw me to Him. If there is no one else to turn to, then He is the one who is able to speak into my life and situation. I have only to go to Him. He can choose whether He wants to send other friends my way.
God showed me a truth through the events of last week. The wall around me has become high. I know He didn’t point this out to me for no reason. So I am waiting and listening. I have spent extra time in Scripture this week, anxious for His guidance as I move forward. I still don’t know the first step He wants me to take, but I am certain that if I am attentive, He will tell me what He wants me to change. He alone can bring transformation to my heart. I am sure that I will need to step out in faith from behind my wall, at some point. God is in control and my responsibility is to keep seeking Him and obeying.