Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unoffendable: Easier Said Than Done

 A number of years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about my frustration with another friend and my inability to help her with a chronic area in need of breakthrough.  This friend said something to me that has stuck with me.  The essence of it was this: sometimes people, when they experience trauma or have major heartache at a certain age, stall out in their development at that age.  They learn coping skills and strategies that 'work' and tend to be unable to move beyond those into mature and "adult" methods of dealing with hurt and conflict.

I have been thinking a lot about this this week because I sometimes feel like I am stuck at a 13-year-old's emotional maturity.  This isn't always true, but when my feelings are hurt or I am offended or feel overlooked, some of the "immature" emotions come out.  It makes me wonder just how much damage rejection as a teenager really did to me based on how strong these emotions and reactions can be.  Just like my friend who was stuck in some areas...this is an area I frequently feel stuck in immature patterns too.

Case in point.  There is a wedding happening today.  In fact, as I am typing this, I am sure the reception is well under way.  To hear the skuttle about this wedding from just about everyone, this is set to be the "wedding of the year." 

Why am I not there?  I did not get invited.  Just about everyone else from the church I attend DID get invited, but I did not.

There was a day when people might have just told me to "just show up" at the wedding, but I happened to have emailed the bride to find out if there was a chance I could come even though I was not invited (was this rude of me?....I'm not sure...but I did not want to just show up, and I did not want to assume anything, so I emailed her to find out if there was a chance I could, rude of me, I don't know?  What do you think?) and was told that they were going to "stick with their original invite list." 

This is where the 13-year-old emotions start to come out....I am angry that I wasn't invited, I am disappointed, I am hurt......thoughts of "what have i done that they don't like me? what's wrong with me?  why don't I fit in? I'm just not going to ever talk to them again..."  Well, you get the picture.

A few weeks ago I had breakfast with a friend and she challenged me: do you want to *be* a friend or do you want the *appearance* of being friends?  This got me thinking.  Am I disappointed that I am missing out on this event because of what it means for ME or am I genuinely disappointed to miss out because I really want to see these two people get married ?  And, I have to be honest, there is a large part of me that wants to be at this wedding not because of the bride and groom, but because of myself and what *I* am missing.  Selfish, eh? 

I think some of my feelings are understandable.  A very large portion of my social circle is at this wedding and I am not.  Not only that, I have been left out very intentionally.  Some of my feelings could easily be justified.

But, I am trying my best to move on to adult ways of coping: forgiving, being unoffendable, giving the benefit of the doubt, praying for this couple, and spending the afternoon with another good friend who did not go.

Sometimes, being an adult is a lot easier said than done.


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