Tuesday, August 23, 2011

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Do you remember having your favorite toy when you were little? Maybe it was a teddy bear or a dollie or a blankie or a book - whatever it was - you carried it EVERYWHERE! Your mom had to pry it away from you because it was covered in dirt and needed to go through the wash. It was a comfort to you. It was your friend and you loved it more than anything else you owned. I don't remember having a favorite toy growing up, though I'm sure I had one or two. My brother Jesse had a bunny blanket that he took everywhere and rubbed the satin ribbon on it for comfort. My brother Dustin had a stuffed Big Bird that he carried all over, everywhere he went. That thing was so tattered and worn. It had to be washed many times. The eyes on him were worn off. My brother loved his Big Bird well. He loved it so much, he never wanted to be without it. My friends Paul & Melissa have a daughter named Annie. Annie just turned four and she has had a stuffed bear named Bear Bear since she was a baby. She cannot go to sleep without him. She takes great care of Bear Bear, but he has become worn and tattered and has a little hole in him. He's not very cute anymore. Paul and Melissa feared the day that Bear Bear was lost or was ruined, so they scoured the web searching for a replacement Bear Bear and found one! They purchased it and Annie received it as a gift last year. New Bear Bear is beautiful! He is very soft and fluffy. His fur is very pretty and he doesn't have any holes. He's a great little teddy bear, but Annie doesn't like him. He's not HER Bear Bear. He may be more beautiful and newer and softer and less tattered, but he's not her friend who has helped her sleep every night. He's not her companion. So, for now, new Bear Bear sits on Annie's dresser. She plays with him from time to time, but she still totes around Bear Bear and still takes the tattered, old Bear Bear to bed with her at night.

As I think about Annie and my brothers and their little stuffed animal friends, it makes me think about relationships and how we hold them. I have a lot of friends - people I love and care about. But of my friends, there are only a few who I consider to be my close friends - the ones I share my whole self with, the ones who get to see the good, bad and ugly parts of me. For me growing up, I had lots of toys to play with and I loved them all, but I always spent my time playing with my Barbie dolls. They were my favorites and I spent a lot of time dressing them and brushing their hair and making up a whole world for them. And that's how I view my friends. I have a lot of them and I love them, but my close friends - they are my Barbies. They are my go to, my "toy of choice," my favorites. And as I think about those select few who are my favorites, it's a very diverse group, just like my Barbies. I had lots of different Barbies growing up and was always drawn to the ethnic Barbies because they had dark hair and eyes like me. And my close group of friends is a melting pot of men and women, young and old and everywhere in between, gay and straight. Blondes, brunettes, baldies and gingers are represented. There's all sorts of walks of life everyone comes from, different cultures and races, different religions and family values. Everyone is very unique. And that is why I love them so very much. But as I think of the length of my relationships, I don't have many "old" friendships. I have one close friend yet from high school (18 yrs). I have two close friends from college (10 yrs). And the rest of my friends are people I have know for seven years or less. And as I said in my last post, when I love, I love big. So it seems a bit odd to me that I don't have a lot of "old" friends. And as I reflect on that and why that may be, it's because even though they may have been one of my favorites, I wasn't one of theirs.

I have what I call, "Second Best Syndrome." I become someones friend and we are really close, outsiders would see us and think that we have known each other forever even if it's only been a few months. We would share the deepest parts of ourselves, laugh together, cry together, comfort each other. We would be each other's Bear Bear. But then something happens. A new Bear Bear comes along, and instead of the new Bear Bear being put on the shelf, I am the one who is cast aside to play with later. I don't even know how many times this has happened to me over the course of my life, but as I reflect on it now, it has happened to me ever since I was a little girl and knew what friendships were. I honestly don't know if I've ever been anyones favorite. I'm not the favorite child or the favorite aunt or the favorite grand-daughter or the favorite co-worker or the favorite friend to anyone. And as I graduated from college and began looking for teaching jobs, I was the second choice a half dozen times. And in my romantic life, I have been the second choice at least three times to my knowledge. And as far as friendships go, I don't think I've ever been considered someones best friend. And if I wasn't placed second to another person, it's been to other things (work, school, sleep, depression, comfort, etc). I know this probably sounds silly, but I ache to be someones favorite. To be the first person they call to share good news or bad news. The person who they want to laugh with and cry with. When I am seventy, I want to be able to have a friend I have walked through life with closely. And I'm not sure what it is about me that always puts me in second place.

There is one person who will always put me first and that is my Father in Heaven. Like Annie, he sees the beauty in the tattered fur and holes. He sees a priceless value on our companionship and walking through life together. With God, I will always be first and He will never put me on a shelf or cast me aside because something newer and better and prettier came along! And for that, I am forever grateful. But as I walk in that truth, there is still a void, an ache in my heart to have that sort of companionship here on earth. And maybe I won't ever know that, maybe I will never be anyones "favorite toy." Or maybe the only person I am meant to be favored by is my husband (when I finally meet him). I don't really know.

And who knows, maybe second place isn't so bad either...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friend or Foe

Friendship. It is defined as a person known well to another and regarded with liking, affection, and loyalty.

I LOVE my friends. Friday I was able to spend the entire day with people whom I like & have affection for and whom I am loyal to - and it was a glorious day! I started the day off by having coffee with a friend I haven't talk to for about three years. We chatted and laughed and had real deep conversation for two hours. It was wonderful to reconnect and just "be" with one another. And then I went and played in the pool with "my girls" from the gym. We soaked up the sun, laughed ourselves silly, and just spent time chatting and sewing into each others lives. These ladies are like my big sisters/my "moms" and I adore each and every one of them. And then I met my friend and her son for dinner and laughed myself silly and just enjoyed a time of just being totally comfortable in my own skin and free to be myself and speak my mind freely without judgement. And as I was driving home from dinner, I was thinking how I always feel really beautiful when I'm around this specific friend, and I wondered what that was about. And I think the preceding sentence sums it up. I feel beautiful when I'm around her because she loves me for me and allows me the freedom to just be and not worry about what she will think. I know that she is a safe person to be the authentic Stacie Brown with, and I am so grateful for that!

And as I think about this relationship and how life giving it is, I think about other "friendships" I have that are not life giving at all. They are actually the opposite, which would mean they are killing. And I think about a couple relationships in particular that I am for some reason trying so desperately to cling onto. And I'm not sure what it is I'm trying to save because there really isn't anything worth saving about these relationships. These friendships, seem to me, to be friendships of convenience and I only hear from them when I am of value to them - they want a favor or advice or affirmation. And they sew into me until they get what they want, and then they are gone. And I'm left feeling jilted and tossed aside. Hurt. Wounded. Rejected. I always feel like I'm trying to prove that I'm worth loving. But for some strange reason, I am a glutton for punishment, and even though I know this will happen each and every time, I allow these friends back into my life and the story always plays out the same way. And I don't know if it's because I have this hope that things will end up being different or what it is. One of my friends always tells me I give people the benefit of the doubt too much, that I need to be more realistic sometimes. And maybe she's right. All I know is that I have deep love for these friends I have just mentioned. I love them to my core and ever since I met them, I imagined them being in my wedding and playing with my kids and always being an integral part of my life. And it brings tears to my eyes (literally) to think that that may not be the case.

One of my greatest traits is that I'm fiercely loyal. Once you have me, you have me forever. I would do anything for the people I love and am willing to make great sacrifices in the name of love and friendship. I'm very cautious about who I let in and who I choose to enter into deep relationship with. There actually aren't too many people who know the authentic me. But when I love, I love big. And my problem is, I expect big love in return. I expect sacrifice in return. I expect to get back what I give. I want love and loyalty.

And as I am writing all of this, I know deep down that these relationships need to end and need to be mourned. These women who I thought were my close intimate friends are not that anymore. They are merely drive-by friendships, and I was not made for that kind of relationship. So as I convince my head of this reality, I need to figure out how to convince my heart.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What's Faith Got To Do With It?

So it's no secret that I'm about to head into my 33rd year of life, and I am single. I have been single for a LONG ASS time! And it is my deepest desire to be a wife and mother. I don't even know if there are words that can express how much my heart longs for these things. I have faith that one day I will be married and have children with my husband, but I would be lying if I said my faith has never wavered. There are times where I am a "doubting Thomas" for sure.

Watching both of my younger brothers get married made me question whether or not I was destined to be single. And then seeing my brother become a parent twice over, caused that desperation to creep back up inside me. And it seems that everywhere I turn, people are getting married and having babies. And don't get me wrong, I have real joy for them, I really do. But at the same time, I can't help but desire what they have and wonder if I will ever have that for my own life.

When it comes to this area of my life, I feel like Sarah. Sarah had a deep longing to be a mother and as she got older, she felt that it was never going to happen. God promised her she would give birth to a son, but Sarah did not see a way this could possibly happen because her reality was not God's reality. Because Sarah's faith was lacking, she took matters into her own hands and made a mess of everything; all because she didn't trust God and his timing. And I have been doing this in my own life. I have been trying to fulfill God's promise for Him. I have met men who I knew in my heart of hearts were not my husband, but I pushed those feelings aside and ignored the things about them that I knew were not right for me because I want to be married so badly. Thankfully those relationships did not lead to marriage! But I see how I have been dishonoring God by not trusting Him and His word. And I have been spending so much time looking for my husband that I haven't been spending the time to focus on me and make sure that when I finally do meet him, that I am a woman who is in deep relationship with God and have worked out as many of my issues before entering into a marriage as possible (I know, I know, there are a lot!). And even though I never had sex with any of these men, I gave them a piece of my heart. And that is not fair to the man who will be my husband. I want to be able to love him with my whole heart!

So, I am committing to deeper intimacy with Christ. And as I spend time with Him, I will learn more about myself, who I am, and build up that faith muscle. I know, with every fiber of my being, that I was created to be a wife and mother. And I am sure of God's promise for me. I just need to learn to hold fast to the promise and not doubt God and His timing, for it is perfect!

And who knows, maybe by this time next year I will be planning my wedding?!?! God works in mysterious ways ;)