I confess that I used to be more friendly.
I was painfully shy as a child and my parents had a hard time getting me to talk to anyone. I hated unwanted attention (or any attention at all) and even cried when people would sing “Happy Birthday” to me every July. I was one of those kids who was kind to everyone, but didn’t really have a BEST friend growing up. Something changed in my later highschool years and early college years. A friendly introvert, I had a lot of friends and even a few close ones. I still didn’t like going up to people and starting a conversation; I just couldn’t ever think of what to say! It was like every step toward the person sucked out one more possible conversation starter I could put to use.
In my last year of college, there were aspects of my character called into question by two of my “friends”. Already embarrassed by my flaws, I didn’t need anyone else to highlight them, but there they were. Things were said that could not be taken back, and I left those conversations feeling hurt. I didn’t realize I had been marked so deeply by their words until months (and then years) had passed, when I was still feeling anxious and vulnerable. So vulnerable in fact, that I began to enjoy being more invisible than visible. New conversations induced more anxiety than calm. I worried about offending people when there was no cause for offense, and coming across the wrong way after commenting on something completely harmless. It had become so bad, that often the thought of talking to people made me want to crawl under the covers and hide. I’m not trying to be funny, these are serious thoughts that have gone through my head. I was convinced I was a terrible friend.
Recently I heard a pastor preach about “Just walking across the room”. How simple is that? A thought that would have caused me anxiety recently, but something I can stomach now.
My mentor says that loneliness is a bigger epidemic than physical illness! Approaching someone in the loneliness of their day to encourage, offer a hand, a smile. I can do that.
I’m called to do that.
Looking back now, I feel silly for letting those words affect me the way they have. I lost one of my brightest character traits as someone who was friendly and kind! I forgot who I was for a while there.
I remembered recently that I CAN be a good friend. Recently, in a seminar full of people I’d never met before, I found myself walking across the room! I started conversations, I smiled, I even made people laugh, and got others involved in the conversation as well.
I praise God for allowing healing to come into my life so I could remember who I was and can, once again, offer true friendship to those who need it.
I’ve made my confession, now go make yours.