I stood there silently, watching her back as she left. Her strawberry-blonde ponytail swung against her shoulders. I felt as if my life had crumbled into pieces and was now lying at my feet, beyond repair.
I was ten.
“You’re not my best friend anymore, Pam is,” she had said, before walking away. We were at a picnic together, now I was alone. And numb.
Middle school drama, of course, is nothing new, and plenty of children have experienced worse. But for me, an introvert who would have preferred to spend all my time with this one friend, who had told my my mom when she found me sitting on my bed on Saturday afternoons that I didn’t need any other friends, it was a life changing moment.
Fast forward nearly thirty years. Though it no longer has sting, and I see with wiser eyes, I can still easily remember the pain of that day. And to be honest, that little ten-year-old girl still sits quietly inside me, occasionally whispering questions and doubts about my adult friendships.
But if we humbly look at friendship through the lens of God’s love, we see that insecurities have no place.
Does this mean that insecurity will not still be a presence in our lives and in our friendships? No. We are human, after all, and don’t have an easy eternal perspective, though we may get glimpses of one occasionally through the Spirit. We are sometimes plagued with envy, selfishness, jealousy, moments of second-guessing what we’ve said or done, and feelings of unworthiness even as beloved children of the King.
But what it does mean, in my experience, is that we can call out our insecurities for the lies that they are, and trust in the goodness of the gifts God gives us in our (also very human) friends.
Looking back over years of friendships I can see that God guided all of them. With some less healthy friendships, relationships that caused me to doubt who I was or try to be someone I was not, He spoke softly to me in various ways, gently encouraging me to invest less; with others, He, in His wisdom, grew them without much effort on my part. In some friendships, where I have thought that I did something to bring distance, healing has come in the form of an apology from my friend for her lack of trust and vulnerability. In others, a prompting from the Spirit for me to make things right has brought intimacy and closeness where I thought there could be none. And through all of it, as I often looked to others to find my worth, the Lord taught me gradually what it really means to find true fulfillment in Him.
I still occasionally have an all-too-human tendency to be insecure in my friendships, but in prayer and praise I remind myself that God delights in me, and that if I delight myself in Him, He will give me the desires of my heart. That He fills my cup to overflowing, and that looking elsewhere for that filling will only lead down the road of doubts and subtle, pervasive emptiness. Turning my heart toward His brings confidence and peace and allows me again to find joy in the relationships with which He has blessed me. When I am confident of my identity in Christ, I can more freely give and receive love in my friendships as well.