Please. Don’t. Leave. Me.

Child crying

When I was 8, we lived on a 20-acre farm.  Not a working farm, more like a wannabe farm.  We had chickens, and a garden, but other than that, the farm served no real purpose except for secluding us from the rest of the world. Not exactly sure why we lived there, I’ll have to ask my parents about that one day.

 

I am the oldest of 7 kids, and we were all homeschooled at the time.  My Dad, a Contemporary Christian singer, built a working recording studio in what used to be the chicken house. He called it “Hen House Productions.”

 

Even at 8, I had major abandonment issues.  Not really sure why, but for whatever reason, there was always this fear that people would forget about me.  Leave me behind.

 

The worst of these moments I remember like it was last week.  This story makes me cry, TO THIS DAY.  I have tissues at the ready as I type.

 

My Dad had invited me on a “date.”  Which, when I was eight, looked more like a trip to McDonald’s or the video store.  BUT, for a homeschooled girl with a phobia of being left out of the loop, it was the epitome of excitement and importance.  Papa wanted to be… WITH ME.  Alone.  Just me.

 

The day finally arrived, I put on my best calico, and presented myself to Papa in the driveway.  He told me to meet him at the bottom of the hill by the mailbox.  He had to drive the half-mile down the hen-house studio to get something.  He would pick me up on the curb.

 

I grabbed my “purse” which was full of quarters -about 5 dollars worth- and strutted down the long gravel driveway, awaiting my Prince Charming at the mailbox.  After what felt like ages (to an 8-year-old) I saw the family vehicle coming down the road from the hen house.  I flashed a smile and waved.  “Here he is!” I thought.

 

My Dad, a talented practical jokester, decided to pretend that he couldn’t see me, keep going, and stop 10 feet down the drive.  To this day, neither him nor I are sure why he thought it would be a good idea, but, nevertheless it was the plan he carried out.

 

As I stood there, striking a pose to impress my date, my worst nightmare unfolded.  The car passed me up, and the driver, looking straight ahead, seemed oblivious to my frantic waving.  He neared closer, and I waved with more desperation.  The car passed me, and I, knowing that I had been forgotten, reacted in utter terror.  Screams escaped my lips, tears began to flow, my hands began beating on the back side of the car as it swept past me.  It was imperative that I get Papa’a attention.  I CANNOT BE LEFT BEHIND.

 

By the time my Dad had caught on to my anguish, it was far too late.  The damage had been done.  He stopped a little short of his originally-planned 10 feet, and I frantically threw open the passenger door and climbed in before he could get away.  By this time, my small 8-year-old frame had been taken over by waves of tears and despair.  I was hysterical.

 

Even now as I write this, I’m affected by the memory.  And today, I’m far more secure in the fact that my Heavenly Father will never leave me behind.  That He will never forget about me, nor forsake me.  That He, too, desires time with me, just me.

Today, my fear of abandonment manifests itself very differently. There are less tears, less desperation.  But if I text you, and you don’t text back… heaven help you.

 

 

Onions have layers

Shrek and donkey

Shrek:  “Ogres are like onions.”

Donkey: “They stink?”

Shrek: “No.  LAYERS.  Onions have layers…. Ogres have layers.”

Donkey: “You know, not everybody like onions.”

*pause*

Donkey:  “CAKE!  Cake has layers.  And parfaits.  Everybody likes parfaits.”

Friendships have layers too.  Today’s societal tendency is to stay on the surface, because, well, we all know that the friendship could be like an onion, and make you cry the deeper you get into it.  BUT, what if instead of an onion, it’s a parfait?  And you never get to taste the sweetness that’s buried beneath the surface, because you’ve held it at arm’s length?

Peeling back the layers is scary.  Getting real with people is scary.  You’re exposing places of yourself that can cause old wounds to sting, embarrassing traits to be seen, and bad decisions to be judged. But it has only ever been worth it, in my experience.  Even when I got hurt.  That’s usually when I learned the most about myself. Getting to the heart –and hard stuff– is usually how we get to know each other, as well.

And think about it! We feel important when our friends have the guts to open up to us!  The shear joy, honor and esteem makes us feel loved, accepted, and valued by this person, our peer, who had faith to tell us about the REAL stuff that’s going on in their world.  So make THEIR day and spread the love, value and acceptance.  But I have 3 points of warning.

1. Don’t act like your pain is worse than mine.  Everyone’s been through something hurtful.  Obviously, at varying degrees, but the emotions that these varied experiences create are often very comparable.  You can only speak for yourself.

2. Gossip disguised as a prayer request.  “Did you hear, our mutual friend so-and-so is considering divorce, so would you pray for them?”  Listen, I BELIEVE IN THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER, but I also believe in the destructive power of gossip.  It can destroy the joy in our own hearts, as well as tear down friendships, trust, and love for one another.  If your mutual friend so-and-so has given permission for you to share, then by all means, be my guest. But if not, you must take it up with the Holy Spirit.

3. If you dish it, be willing to take it.  Being a good listener.  It takes practice, people.  And it’s not always fun, but it’s an excellent character-building exercise.  And much like physical exercise, there’s quite a sense of accomplishment that comes with it.  Not to mention, deeper trust, relational intimacy, and you never know, you might just learn something about your friend that you didn’t know.  More blackmail material for later.