What we do in Statesville, NC for fun…
I had another friend tell me this week that they thought they were going to delete Facebook. This is not a person who uses Facebook very much, so I can’t see that the action will change their life very much. I was frankly surprised it was “a thing”. I feel it has been a good thing in our lives as friends, allowing us to keep in touch. In fact, I wished this person used it to post more because I love knowing what is going on with them. With the busy-ness of our lives, the preferred direct communication is difficult sometimes. When we do get together there is only time to share so much. To already have an idea of what has been going on? We can cut to the chase and get to the details! I know their encouragement of me (through my excessive posts of daily life) has been a gift.
I had another friend delete Facebook this year, and I will confess it still makes my heart ache. I mourned. It was our only form of communication. Granted it was an acquaintance and not a close friend, but he is someone whose thoughts and insights enhanced my life. His life is very different than mine, and I enjoyed seeing the contrast. I miss him.
Some people seem to see Facebook as this super negative power. It’s just an app….though I admit it can have power. But in your life, really only if you allow it to. I believe I hold its power, and don’t experience a lot of negatives. I have the power to choose my friends (some are people I have never met, which is weird and wonderful and I guess at times could be creepy. Mostly it has been wonderful.) I control whose posts I see and whose I don’t. I seldom block people or posts…..but if I want to, I have the power. If an image or a post particularly bothers me (and granted, some I don’t want taking up space in my brain). I can wipe it off my page and focus on others that uplift and encourage me and make me think without shuddering.
I am fascinated by Facebook behavior….by the things that people share and the sides of them that come out when they do. I try to keep things in perspective and realize one statement does not the person make. People have bad days. People express themselves badly. And then there is the opposite. Some people only post the good and amazing parts of their lives. They post words of great wisdom, when truth is they live really screwed up lives. This doesn’t bother me. They, too, can say something that encourages or changes me for the better. Even if they really don’t live it in their real life. I’ll use their words well.
Some people only post about others. They’ll tell you about the accomplishments of their children and grandchildren, but never give a glimpse of their own lives. Some rant on topics to the point I wonder what their goal is…though I know they truly have no goal or they would do it another way. They are just letting off steam. Facebook is their chance to vent and get validation from those who agree with them….and start fights with those who don’t. They seem both proud and confused when people unfriend them. They are the drama queens and kings of the world….and would probably be offended if you made that observation to them. But we know it, don’t we? Most of us don’t choose to live such drama in our lives and should not take it as reality.
Which leads me to another observation I have made lately….how many people are slaves to the opinions of other people. Oh, I am not beyond it….which probably is why it fascinates me so much. I have identified that as a personal weakness. In doing that I give myself power to change it. I tend to notice it in myself more quickly and put things in perspective a bit faster. One of the greatest truths I have ever learned is that people are human. Yeah…inane statement to some…insert eye roll here if you find it necessary. But as an analytical type, that simple statement has often changed my whole view of things.
Even the brightest and most intuitive can be off base about things. I learned this best from people criticizing me (and while I have been criticized a lot in person, nowhere near as much as on Facebook. Especially from complete strangers.) I used to agonize when someone I respected made a critical comment about me that didn’t ring true. It confused the daylights out of me. I would obsess about it and look for the truth of it. They had to be right…they were smart and had made many observations of people and things that were on point. But as I marinated in their words (sometimes preparing to grill myself), as I looked at who I know myself to be, I simply didn’t agree with what they said. Or I agreed completely in the observation itself, but where they saw it as a weakness in me, I saw it as a strength. It was not something I wanted to change, just because they said so. As for a stranger criticizing me, it only hurts until I consider the source and remember they are judging me based on one written comment….it smarts a bit longer when my “real” friend doesn’t defend me as a person of value.
The Facebook meme words of wisdom would tell me to cut these people completely out of my life. They would be seen as negative influences and therefore should be banned. But if you look at everyone as simply human, you realize that you can keep people like this in your life and simply realize they are sometimes wrong. Or they are right in a way, but it is not something that you need to change now. Or ever.
There are parts of who I am that annoy other people (sometimes I annoy myself), but I am not inclined to change them. I am sometimes a difficult friend. I am on occasion brutally honest. It’s a family trait, inherited from both sides. The McKinneys and the Scotts are honest and blunt and critical and very often loud in spouting their thoughts. Not an excuse for me to do it excessively, but it is what I know. And I prefer going through life this way rather than being someone who wears a mask all the time.
If you are my real life friend, I almost always have an opinion on the choices you make in your life. There will be few times you don’t know what these opinions are, whether you ask for them or not. As your friend, I feel the obligation to tell you. My goal is to only say these things to you one time if they are negative, unless you bring them up again yourself. Or unless I see you making what I believe are critical errors in your life and I am following you around with a life preserver so you don’t drown. I sometimes fail in that “one time only thing”, but most of my friends know the magic words are “We’ve already discussed this.” That usually makes me put a clamp on it. But if you know me well, you know I believe you get to make your own choices in life. You get to make mistakes. You don’t have to change yourself or how you live because I have an opinion. These things in themselves will not ruin our friendship. If they cause struggle or consequences for you, hopefully these will be the times I will be there for you the most. Even if I could say “I told you so.”
There are people I don’t particularly care for. There are days I don’t like or respect even my closest friends. There are times I feel unappreciated and overlooked. There are times I don’t meet expectations and times I offend. Sometimes I ask for advice and decide your view is not my own, so don’t take it. It doesn’t mean it wasn’t valuable….but sometimes it simply clarified my own take. No offense intended. And there are times when I decide certain opinions of me just don’t matter. Even from the best of people. These times seem to increase with age.
But “unfriending” friends? I don’t do it often. I am OK when they do it to me and realize they have that right and don’t owe me an explanation. Though I have been known to ask anyway. Because yeah…..sometimes the curiosity gets the best of me. And sometimes I want to know how someone I love can discard me (because sometimes that is how it feels). Even though, once again, I fully believe they have that right. You are not obligated to be my friend for life. Well….some of you are. But me believing that doesn’t mean it is necessarily right.
In my life I have learned that often if I run from certain relationships or try to pretend certain people don’t exist, God will keep putting these people in my path. Over and over and over again until I realize I just need to surrender. Usually it is to remind me that they are more than a caricature. They are a complicated human, both good and sometimes “evil”. That does not mean they are worthless. And because they are not where I am in life, or where I think they should be, it does not mean that God is not prodding me to love them well. Where they are….without judgment. How does shunning people change them for the better? It’s a concept I have thought about a lot in recent years, especially since I had discussions with a friend about certain Christian groups that do it often (I had no idea), and I abhor the whole concept. I admit I wanted to join one of these churches for the express purpose of eventually being shunned. But that’s a character flaw with me. (And one that I kinda enjoy.)
But as for us….spending our time trying to convince anybody their opinion of us is wrong (especially strangers) is usually moments of your life wasted. It’s fine to be who you are today. You have to accept where you are so you can be better tomorrow. Work on not ever living life for applause from anyone but God. (He knows you inside and out and is not going to unfriend you.) Let that be enough.
Those folks who tie you up in knots? They are mere mortals. Just like you. Fallible and wonderful. But sometimes you do need to avoid them and regain your equilibrium.
You’ve heard this from me before. If you don’t have people around you who love you warts and all, who don’t acknowledge all of who you are, who spend all of their time with you trying to mold you into who they think you should be, and who don’t include you in their lives with open arms and open doors, then knock down those walls you have put up to everyone else and open up yourself to the world. Find your tribe. You need those who support you well, so you can counter the many you will run into who won’t. Sometimes you make changes in your tribe. Your needs may be different, or theirs. You may no longer serve each other well. Sometimes hard relationships are worth it. Sometimes they are not.
A relationship is not just about you….think of the needs of others equal to your own needs. Not more, not less….equal is best. There needs to be balance there. Love the full person (even the things you don’t like.) Don’t give them a life sentence for a minor infraction. Embrace the good parts. Minimize the bad parts. Be kind to strangers. And cut the public drama. Quietly prune your friends list, if you need to (stop with the public “I am deleting 97.6% of my friends today who I no longer need in my life”. What’s the point of that anyway?) Walk totally away if it burdens you excessively. But think twice before you destroy that tree. Maybe you need to prune, and in time it will produce fruit you will enjoy eating.
You can control Facebook. It doesn’t need to control you. One thing I like about it….it’s a microcosm of our world. You can learn a lot about others. And about yourself. I don’t see that as a bad thing. Even if on days you are really aware that we can all be quite annoying. But on another day….oh, how beautiful our people, how beautiful our world.
“What is a disloyal act? A person is disloyal if he treats you as a stranger when, in fact, he belongs to you as a friend or partner. Each of us is bound to some special others by the invisible fibers of loyalty.” –Lewis B. Smedes
“Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved.”– Martin Luther
loyalty as a lamp:
they think, they can
just switch it on/off
you won’t notice
One of the things I have learned in life is to be on the lookout for loyalty. It’s a hard thing to describe, really, but important you learn to recognize it when you do see it. And even more important, when you don’t.
A “friend” misrepresented themself to me recently. That’s when they don’t lie to you outright, but they lead you to believe something that is not the truth. I didn’t realize it at first, but later when I did, there was a shift in our relationship. I examined it a bit and realized that they didn’t trust me with the truth. Examining the relationship showed me that while I had considered them a friend, they just considered me an acquaintance.
If you’re looking to play a human version of “Go Fish”, you probably should not invite me to play. You know the game. Instead of asking if they have any 3’s, they say “I’m a nice person, right?” “I’m smarter than average, right?” “I’m way prettier than her, right?” “I’m the right one in this situation, right?” My answer will probably be “Wrong!” …because Stuart Smalley is in the room and I really like to annoy him.
I guess I could answer those questions for you honestly, because normally they are true. But really, does it matter? Do I help you when I answer them? It really doesn’t matter what the truthful answer to those questions are. Most are subjective and they may change with the situation. And you’re not really fishing for a long analysis of yourself now, are you? You’re simply fishing for compliments.
When we look at ourselves in the mirror, shouldn’t we see the image of God? Isn’t it the voice of Satan that hits the extremes…..that says “Hey you….you’re not all that great!”, or “Why aren’t you….good enough?”, or the other extreme “You are perfect just the way you are”. The voice of God will say “Even though I know you inside and out, you are my precious ones” and “Come to me….just the way you are now. There is no need to hide. I know you and I still want a relationship with you.”
So if asked to play the human game “Go Fish!”, I am not your woman. It’s not that I don’t think you’re amazing, but instead it is because I want you to be strong and real. You don’t need meaningless flattery. You need friends who know who you are and love you anyway…..and don’t engage in pointless questions that, if answered, need to be answered by you.
When it gets down to it, you’re good enough and smart enough, and doggone it people like you! But get your focus off that. There are other fish you could catch that will actually provide nourishment.
Day 13 in Proverbs
“But oh! the blessing it is to have a friend to whom one can speak fearlessly on any subject; with whom one’s deepest as well as one’s most foolish thoughts come out simply and safely. Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.” – Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life
” A true friend never gets in your way unless you happen to be going down.” – Arnold Glasow
“You can always tell a real friend: when you’ve made a fool of yourself he doesn’t feel you’ve done a permanent job.” – Laurence J. Peter
“A friend accepts us as we are yet helps us to be what we should.” Author Unknown
Friends are not a luxury in my life, but a true need. I think perhaps I need them more than the average person (weird since I am a pretty strong introvert), but hopefully because of this I appreciate them more than the average person. Sometimes on the surface a lot of my friends (OK, most) often act like crazy people, but when you get down to the core I have a bunch of really wise friends. I choose them carefully and I respect wisdom and kindness in people, so tend to gravitate to people who possess them. I’ve learned over the years that while you can have people in your life that you love and care about, you should also pay attention to those who reciprocate. A true friendship travels in both directions. You can be a friend to a person that is not a friend to you, and there is nothing wrong with that, as long as you are aware when that is the case. If this is a commonality in all of your friendships, however, you need to get to work and find a few truly healthy ones.
It’s always intrigued me at how some people pick friends. Often I don’t understand it at all. Why would you call someone a friend that doesn’t even pretend to like you? Why would you call someone friend that constantly ridicules you….and doesn’t seem to be aware of your sensitivities? Why do you call someone a friend who doesn’t seem to want the best for you…..and in fact, cheers you on to make decisions that will hurt you in the long run? Why do you call someone a friend when they don’t rejoice at the good things going on in your life and aren’t ready to stand by you during the bad times? Why would you call someone a friend if they are resentful for what you have received through hard work or even just by chance? Why do you call someone a friend if they aren’t interested in your life in the least? It perplexes me, that is for sure.
So, in the spirit of Proverbs 13:20 here I go…..Kim’s Rules for Discovering Who Your True Friends Really Are:
- A true friend sees you as you really are. All, or at least most of, the flaws included. They also see the good things, too. They see them because they really see you……they take the time to notice the nuances and do not just judge you on the surface. They get to know your heart….and your brain. And they like that heart and brain. If you have to hide who you are from your friends, strike their name off your friends list. They’re friends with someone else who doesn’t exist….not with you.
- A true friend is there when things are bad. Even when it is difficult for them. Especially when it is difficult for them. I had a friend, for example, who had cancer and was told by a “close friend” that they couldn’t see her with her wig off because it was upsetting to them. They also could not be around her as she was going through chemotherapy…..once again, it was too upsetting for them. There are times when as far as your friend is concerned, it should be all about you. If you are going through a tough time and their comfort matters more to them than you do, they are not your friend. Strike them off the list.
- A true friend is happy when things are going well in your life, regardless of whether things are going as well in their own life. One thing has nothing to do with the other. In fact, the joy they get at seeing things go well in your live raises their spirits even in the worst of times. If someone does not celebrate your joys, victories and gifts, they are not your friend. Strike them off the list.
- A true friend doesn’t care that you have more stuff than them, more money than them, a better family than them, a better job than them, more friends than them…..in fact, they only appreciate it on your behalf. If someone envies these things, and is always sizing up your pile against theirs, they are not not your friend, and may need to be stricken from the list.
- A true friend does not take pleasure in seeing you do self-destructive things. They want the best for you….and are going to encourage that you be the best that you can be. They may give you freedom to make your own mistakes…..but that is a different thing than being happy that you are making them. If someone looks on with amusement as you do really dumb things for which you will pay major consequences, consider striking them off the friend list.
- A true friend does not find your bad behavior acceptable….and they are not afraid to tell you. With love. Without nagging. Committing to support you as you try to make things right. If they stick around and allow you to behave badly, if they enable you to do so, they are not your friend. Unconditional love does not mean unconditional blindness. If they don’t care about that, if it doesn’t grieve them to see you making dumb mistakes that impact your life and the lives of others, strike them off the list. They are not your friend.
- A true friend does not ridicule you, in front of you or behind your back. That’s not to say that they don’t tease you and on occasion make fun of you (good thing, or I would have to wipe most of my friends off my list), but they know your sensitivities and keep them off limits. That’s not to say that your friends should have to read your mind…..sometimes you have to confess these sensitivities. But when you do, they respect it. And if they don’t, strike them from the list! They are probably not your friend.
- A true friend cringes for you when you make a fool of yourself. They try to help. But if they can’t, they have short memories. They allow a few foolish moments, and may be there to support you as you recover from them, but then they don’t dwell on them. They allow you to put the foolish behind you. And if they don’t, they are often not your friend. And if not, strike them off the list.
- A true friend does not try to run your life. They are busy running their own. They see their own weaknesses and know they have work to do on them. While they are honest in their assessments about decisions you make, they acknowledge those decisions are yours. If they try to take over, and take away your personal freedom, they are not your friend and should be stricken from your list.
- A true friend enjoys who you are. They think you are fun to be around. They are not embarrassed by who you are (well, unless you really are embarrassing), and want to spend time with you. When not able to be around, they miss you. If they are looking for ways to avoid your presence, they are not your friend. And if you find this to be true, strike them from your list.
- A true friend cares about your physical, emotional and spiritual life. They may ask questions about any of these….and you don’t mind. You know where their heart is and you know that they love and respect you. If they do not love and respect you as they ask these questions, consider striking them from your list. They may not be your friend.
- A true friend respects your time, your family, your beliefs, your responsibilities and your commitments. If they do not, you may need to strike them from the friends list.
- A true friend speaks up for you. They support you whether you are in the room or not. They have your back when you need someone to have your back. If they don’t, strike them off the list. They probably aren’t your friend.
- A true friend has the capability to be a friend. They have the ability to think of others than themselves. They have the capacity to care and be kind. They have a certain level of maturity and have expectations that you have the same. They possess wisdom, and keep being the fool to a minimum. If they don’t, handle with care. They may not be able to be your friend….and may need to be stricken from the list.
I seemed to be pretty heavy-handed with the strikes, and I don’t actually think it should happen that quickly or easily. There are often underlying reasons why some of these things happen. Don’t make rash decisions, but pay attention. Ask questions. Don’t be afraid to confront. It’s better to confront than to let bad things fester. Friendship is a great gift. It should be treasured. Sometimes we get so caught up in our own stuff, we forget to pay attention to those we love. When that happens, our friends should bring it to our attention. Not defensively, but lovingly. Yep, it may tear apart the friendship, but if the friendship is that fragile, those are the friendships to lose. Life is better lived with strong, powerful and wise friends. They have superpowers…..and they are part of your Justice League. Oh, the things you can do in this world as you work together….but superheroes must have the superpower of wisdom. The fools never survive.
Day 3 in Proverbs
Proverbs 3: “Let love and loyalty always show like a necklace, and write them in your mind. God and people will like you and consider you a success.”
Proverbs 3:32 “The Lord doesn’t like anyone who is dishonest, but he lets good people be his friends.”
It took me a while, but I finally learned not to take people at face value. I used to think that what I saw on the surface was who the person was, but have since learned I was wrong. My biggest heartbreaks in life have come from this very thing. After a while you learn to slow down, and have the patience to let people reveal who they really are. Therefore, I no longer believe my first impressions of people are valid…..and I think that realizing that was one of the best lessons I ever learned. It takes time and a little covert observation to really know who a person is. And seeing who makes an effort to love you….and who is really in your corner and cheering you on to do good things in this world.
I’m a girl….I love jewelry. It’s easy to get distracted by a beautiful necklace. Some just grab your attention and it’s hard to focus on anything else. I don’t care whether the necklace is of great monetary value….if I like it, I like it. I like everything from a simple chain to that of elaborate precious stones that shimmer every which way with any movement.
I think people are like jewelry. Some are really flashy and make a really great first impression. As you get to know them, and notice who they really are, you may find their flash is authentic. They really are what they appear….and are big spectacular specimens of human beings. But with others, it may prove to be just flash. We used to say about one friend “He’s a great guy, until you really get to know him.” In time, most people reveal who they really are.
So you have the flashy people who grab your attention right away, but then there are the other people, who don’t really glitter from a distance. You may not be overly impressed with their jewelry at first, but as you see them closely, and examine everything up close, you find they are made up of precious stones and platinum. It’s amazing to me how many of the best people I know are this type.
And yeah….there are those who appear to be worthless and prove it to us over and over again. I think Oprah used to say that Maya Angelou told her “When people tell you who they are, believe them.”
When you realize the “worth” of a friend may not be much, what do you do? I think the best advice is that you don’t ever forget who they really are. I hang out with all kinds of people. In my heart of hearts, I usually know who my true friends are. I also know the people who I spend a lot of time with, but who don’t have the capability to ever be more than an acquaintance. Some I limit spending time with, some I don’t. Overall, though, it’s good to have a firm idea of those who not loyal to me and those who don’t have the capacity to love me. I can’t say it doesn’t hurt when they prove it to you over and over again….but recovery time gets to be less and less….and I realize that my heartbreak is more about me than them. After a while you know you can’t change people, you can’t make them into what you want them to be, and you can’t just take the good and ignore the bad. It’s all important. But you also can’t take out the humanity. We are who we are for so many different reasons…..some out of our control. I do believe people can change…..but I also think change is hard and rare. We have to turn away from our true nature…..and that is so very hard to do. But I want to be there to support in the event that they do.
A friend of mine is currently dealing with the issues that come from being an addict. They were in recovery, but as things in their body and their life started to hurt them, they slowly started slipping back into self-medication. They knew better than the doctors. Their judgment was better than those who loved them. It was all innocent, everything was OK. They had a reason for it all. But substances change who we are, and things progressed to where they were choosing them above love and loyalty for those they hold dear in their life. It didn’t matter they were being deceptive and bringing them pain…..they wanted to feel better. They appear fine on the surface, but it didn’t take long to see it happening. And when I did, I knew they cannot be trusted right now. They are the center of their own universe. I can’t tell you how frustrating this is…. because I know the wonderful person underneath. But you can’t turn your back on reality….and you can’t pretend that the downward spiral isn’t happening. You cannot enable the behavior….you have to confront it. And sometimes walk away. They are the only ones who can change themselves.
But let me take the focus off of everyone else. Let’s look at these verses again. They’re really directed at us. What kind of friend, what kind of family member, what kind of person are we? Are we wearing precious love and loyalty as our necklace every day, or are we keeping it in a box and only taking it out on special occasions? If we are to examine ourselves closely is our “necklace” really made up of hate, envy, self-centeredness, and malevolent intent (you can look that one up as a vocabulary word if you need to…..it’s a good one that just rolls off the tongue…or for some of us, doesn’t!) Like I said, we can’t change other people….we are not responsible for changing other people…. but we are totally responsible for how we are living our own lives. We are responsible for the kind of friend and family member we really are. And we forget so easily…..God tells us writing it on our hand is not enough, we have to constantly remember to write it on our mind. It’s not something we are going to remember without a little mental prompting.
We can be dishonest with other people, but we can’t be dishonest with God. He sees our very heart, soul and most of all what is written on our mind. The only pure judge of character. Like verse 32 in Proverbs 3 says, if you are living your life dishonestly, he is not going to be your friend. He’s looking for the good people (which seem to be not the perfect ones, but those honest with themselves and with others.) So am I. In my friends….but more importantly, in the mirror.