Remember a few weeks ago when I wrote about loving one another?
Well, the Lord is still teaching me that lesson, only this time I learned it from the ugly side.
Recently, I had a friend that kiiiinda sorta made me feel bad. Actually, okay, she REALLY made me feel bad.
I overheard her having a conversation, and she mentioned me, and it wasn’t a glowing reference. It wasn’t a huge insult, but she was explaining to the other person why she and I didn’t hang out more, and she put a lot of the blame on my personality. Slash character. Slash… something. It was hurtful.
A better person could have shrugged it off, but I’m kind of a baby, and I couldn’t. I ducked around the corner and pretended I hadn’t heard, but immediately I started fantasizing about how I would block her on instagram, and set her as an acquaintance on Facebook, and not contact her for long enough that when I ran into her, I could pretend to be busy and important and act like I had totally forgotten that she existed.
So she could feel bad, too.
Here’s the thing. I’m sort of an over-thinker, and I actually do love the Lord, and want to go his ways, so when I was done with my instant little pity party, I tried to be more rational, and more… Jesus-like. I started sorting through my feelings.
And I went to my husband.
I was talking about it to him, like I do all the time, when he is in the shower and I’m evaluating every pore on my face in the mirror like I’m looking for some kind of microscopic crime evidence.
“You feel like she made you look bad?” he said, which was irritating. I wanted him to be offended, too. Also I felt as if he were slightly suggesting that what she said was true. I was quiet, considering turning the hot sink faucet on but also trying to decide if he was right.
“No, it’s not that,” I finally decided. “The other lady wasn’t even paying attention.”
“Then what?” he asked. “You’re just mad because you want to be her favorite person.”
Here’s my confession: Hi, my name is Brianna, and I want to be absolutely everyone’s favorite person, all the time.
I don’t know how long I’ve been like this. It’s been a one of my biggest life goals for a very long time, and so I’ve gotten a lot of practice trying to make it come true.
Somehow with my extroverted tendencies and my natural ability to read people, I have learned how to play this crazy game where I am always, all the time, trying to be the very best Brianna that you could possibly meet.
I am a chameleon.
If you’re trendy, I use cool internet lingo. If you’re a farmer, I talk holsteins and heifers. If you seem insecure and shy, I lighten the mood with jokes and some funny stories.
If I make a promise, I bend over backwards trying to make it happen, and if I say I’ll do something, I make sure it is the best darn thing I’ve ever done.
I will try, in every possible instance, to be the best whatever you need me to be, so that you will (hopefully) prefer me and be so glad that you know me, and always choose me first, and always want to be with me, and never, ever, regret that you’ve been with me.
I will show up, clean up, dress up, cheer you up, ham it up, pick up, and follow up 1000% until I am positive that you like me.
And then I will collapse.
(I’m actually kinda bad about the people I’ve won over, though. I mean, once I knew I was my husband’s favorite, and my best friend’s favorite, it was easy to let my guard down and let them deal with all the messy parts of me. Which isn’t nice. ((I’m sorry.)) )
(I know this blog post is kinda rambling, but I have a point. I’m almost there.)
When my husband suggested (because he’s a meanie and he loves me) that I was only hurt because I realized I wasn’t her favorite, I realized that I wasn’t tempted to cut her out of my life as much as I was tempted to get back the ups.
To start sucking up.
To text her, call her, send some funny gifs. Stop by with muffins and tell her I miss her. Ask her on a shopping trip, or her advice on a book. To tag her in a funny meme or write her a long chatty email. Do anything and everything that would nullify the little thing she found un-likeable about me- and win her back, and convince her that she was wrong, and I am amazing.
Because I can’t stand knowing I’m not her favorite person.
Will you notice in all of this that I never said she wasn’t my friend? I never said she rejected me, or cut me out, or actually treated me too badly. She merely mentioned off handedly some behavior of mine that she disliked, and implied that it was why we weren’t that close. That’s it.
Somehow, in the midst of all of this, I got a little bit, a teeny bit, of clarity about the state of my heart in this. Thank the Lord.
I saw the truth in that horrible statement- that yes, I really, truly, do want to be her favorite.
The truth is that it’s not because I care about her.
Sadly, and ashamedly, I admit that it’s just because… I’m selfish.
I’ve done a lot of thinking since then about this concept of favorites. One of the first things I realized was that… she’s not my favorite! Really! I don’t prefer her style, or her humor, or the kinds of hobbies that interest her, and truly, we had grown apart because I was just not as interested to be with her!
That floored me.
Here I was, upset that I wasn’t her favorite, and I had clearly communicated to her that she wasn’t my favorite.
(If all this talk about favorites is getting to you, I am almost done, for real, and I really, actually, do have a point, and I will get there in just a sec, I promise, take a sip of your coffee for some staying power.)
In the middle of me trying to figure all of this out, my 12 year old daughter had an encounter that left her crying. Another young girl had left her out of a gathering, and she felt horrible. I started trying to comfort her, and I heard myself say,
“Maybe she could tell that she’s not your favorite person. I mean, everyone you meet is going to be either your favorite type of person, or someone that really frustrates you, or else somewhere in the middle- someone that you could take or leave. Maybe this girl could tell that you aren’t that thrilled to be her friend, and so she wasn’t that concerned about trying to be yours.”
awful nice when the Holy Spirit talks to you out of your own mouth?)
Then I started thinking about how I had just been praying and reading and thinking about love in the church, and not being offended, and I was reminded of this passage from James 2:
My friends, if you have faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, you won’t treat some people better than others. 2 Suppose a rich person wearing fancy clothes and a gold ring comes to one of your meetings. And suppose a poor person dressed in worn-out clothes also comes. 3 You must not give the best seat to the one in fancy clothes and tell the one who is poor to stand at the side or sit on the floor. 4 That is the same as saying that some people are better than others, and you would be acting like a crooked judge.
5 My dear friends, pay attention. God has given a lot of faith to the poor people in this world. He has also promised them a share in his kingdom that he will give to everyone who loves him. 6 You mistreat the poor. But isn’t it the rich who boss you around and drag you off to court? 7 Aren’t they the ones who make fun of your Lord?
8 You will do all right, if you obey the most important law in the Scriptures. It is the law that commands us to love others as much as we love ourselves. 9 But if you treat some people better than others, you have done wrong, and the Scriptures teach that you have sinned.
I realize he’s talking about rich people vs. people.
But isn’t he actually talking about me, too?
If I treat certain people kindly and as if I am excited to see them, and value what they have to say, and am willing to change my schedule to spend time with them and to meet their needs, but I barely extend the same courtesy to others, aren’t I the same as any non-believer? Even tax collectors love their friends.
Shouldn’t I do as I want done to me- and treat every single person as if they were my very favorite person, and I was so glad to finally see them, hear them, interact with them, and serve them in some way to make their life better? Not just to win them over so that they love me, as I have been doing, but really, truly, enjoying each one and affirming them with affection and tender care?
Impossible, you say? Only God could do that?
Well, I think that’s just how Jesus was.
I suspect that the reason why he was so unique is that he had the ability, as he does now, to love each individual person absolutely fully. As if they were his favorite person.
The more I think about it, the more I realize that my desire to be everyone’s favorite might be a little more intense than other people have, but we all want to be someone’s favorite.
Some people try to meet that desire with a romantic love or a best friend, or by being the best at something. Some people have enough rejection that they deny they have that desire.
But it’s that God-shaped hole some people talk about. It’s this longing. To be seen, to be affirmed. To be wanted and accepted and longed for.
And God loves to fill it!
Okay, this is long enough. And I haven’t even told you how I concluded my turmoil over my friend. But I bet you can guess by now the direction I’m going with it. Not trying to win her back or cut her out, not trying to fix the problem that I’m not her favorite, but actually thinking about it from her point of view. From the Lord’s.
I’m repenting of using her to get my affirmation cup filled, while forgetting that she’d like to be affirmed, too.
I’m repenting of living my life to win the approval of man.
I’m repenting of treating people with favoritism, and trying to win favoritism myself.
I’m trying to learn the law of love, and it’s turning me inside out!
Okay, that’s really all. And see, I did have a point, almost 2000 words in!
I might actually be learning something! Are you?
Tell me what you think!