Saturday, December 27, 2008

Being Stripped of Distractions

Do you ever feel as if God is taking away from your life so that He can make room for more? More of Him maybe? I've been feeling this way for quite some time... ever since my mom's trip to the Emergency room three years ago. It started that day and it's not stopped since then. First, I lose my mom, then my dad, and, repeatedly, I've lost "friends". Friendships that just simply ended and I never truly understood why. Of course each friend or person I lost, I gained at least two people in their place. And I believe that God gave me Artsy Mamas in order to fill the giant void created by losing my parents. But until recently I was unable to focus on this aspect. Instead I just kept beating myself up, wondering what I'd done to make these people hate me or thinking that I wasn't doing enough with the organization that God gave me.

As for Artsy Mamas, I think that God saw that I was getting carried away and so he replaced my heart's desire to fulfill all of my needs through it by giving me back the desire to be a Godly Wife and Mother. A few weeks ago, as a symbol of my change of heart, I removed the framed print of the Artsy Mamas logo from my living room and replaced it with my marriage certificate. Now, whenever I notice that piece of paper, I remember my commitment to focus on my marriage and my husband instead of the organization. This does not mean that I am no longer doing Artsy Mamas nor that I believe its mission to be any less important. It simply means that from now on, I have my priorities in order and I will only give to the organization what I have left to give and until some other people step up to help me, it will become more stagnant and less active. I'm totally cool with that. And I have to ask myself why? How am I cool with it? Because I know it is God's will for me and because I take much more joy in serving my family than in serving my community. First comes my family, next comes my community. I'd hate to have my children accuse me one day of loving the mothers in middle Tennessee more than I loved them.

While reflecting upon why certain so-called friends have stopped speaking to me over the past two years, I've come to realize that maybe they weren't truly my friends. Friends don't abandon one another when they are needed the most. And what I've learned is that God has been trying to replace those people in my life. Like with other God-loving and uplifting individuals. Now that I am able to focus on the positive, I can see clearly how I have so many new friends and I actually like these people! What a concept! And these new friends help me in focusing on, first of all, Him, and on other things I believe to be vital like homeschool, my children, and my marriage. I feel better about myself now.

Mostly. But then it still happens. The ignoring. The shunning. The rejection. And this time it's not from people I met a year ago. Two years ago. It's from people I've known for over half of my life. People to whom I've not been close in years but who I love anyway and consider to be my family. People who I, mistakenly, expected unconditional love and support for forever. Sure, we have very little if anything in common anymore. But does that matter? Do you stop seeing your brother or your sister just because you can't relate these days? I wouldn't, if I had any. So, the sadness is still there. Not being invited. Not being included. Having to accept that things have changed. That I've changed and maybe, just maybe, I don't fit in well enough anymore. Is it because of my choices? Because I'm now so incredibly different than I once was that they just can't handle being around me? Because I've grown up and they haven't? Because I have kids? Because I shocked everyone and am no longer a flaming liberal agnostic but instead a relatively conservative, fundamental, homeschooling Christian wife and mom of (almost) three? Honestly, I don't know the exact answer but something tells me that I'm hitting the nail on the head.

I've heard of this before... people losing friends because of the changes they have made. Because they have become Christians or because they have made (seemingly) strange choices. I guess I was just naive to believe it wouldn't or couldn't happen to me. But I believe that God knows what He is doing. And if this was something He needed to do with my life in order to shape and mold me into the servant He has planned for me to become then I fully trust in Him.

In the meantime, I pray that He will give me peace, calm, confidence, encouragement, and, most of all, quality time with the people in my life who He has selected for me!

6 comments:

  1. Oh I SO know about this. I have found that God will keep bringing in people who will draw you closer to Him and the more He does the more the people who that makes uncomfortable will move out of your life.

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  2. I agree strongly about putting family first. I think it's great to do things for the community, but not at the expensive of your family. I think there can be a balance though. I don't think someone has to completely give up their hobbies and community work. It seems to me like you have things balanced quite well.

    On September 11, my husband was driving to Oklahoma to teach a class on diversity. I called him when the planes hit. He could have turned around and come home. Jack was only a few weeks old at the time. I wondered what kind of husband would not want to rush home to be with his family? He didn't come home. He chose to go to work instead. And it's not like he was a fireman saving lives. His job was definitely not in danger. But he felt these students NEEDED him. He chose them over us.

    People have different priorities and sometimes their family is NOT on top.

    As for friendships changing and disappearing. I think it happens. I'm not sure what happened to you--whether these friends outright rejected you or they just slowly drifted away.

    I think when someone makes a big change, it can effect the relationship. I was briefly friends with a man whose wife left him. He believed it was because he had stopped drinking. The thing is it's not just a matter of changing from drinking to not drinking. It's so much more complex than that. He started going to AA and I think this became a HUGE part of his life--almost like a religion. It wasn't just a matter of him ordering soda with his meal instead of a beer. I think his personality and outlook changed.

    I think it's great if a friendship can survive these changes. But sometimes it doesn't work. I think it might depend on how much of a part that particular aspect of the person had on the friendship. If religion/politics played no part in your friendship, I don't think it should matter. But if being liberal/agnostics together is what bonded you to these people, it would make sense that your new religious beliefs might make these friends feel a bit....I don't know? Betrayed?

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  3. "While reflecting upon why certain so-called friends have stopped speaking to me over the past two years, I've come to realize that maybe they weren't truly my friends."

    This is so insanely true. I know, coming from a guy you see maybe once a year at best and who is about as active commenting on your blog as Shakespeare is writing plays right now that sounds kind of ridiculous, but I do consider you a friend. I also think you're dead on about friends being the ones that are still there even after the storm has done its worst to you. Those people are living miracles.

    Anyhow, thank you for writing, and please know you've got a dedicated readership out here, if a bit of a quiet one at that.

    All the best!

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  4. I hate being so far away from you that I can't see you and your family regularly, but I am glad that you have friends near by who care for you.

    I know of a number of my friendships that have ended for various reasons, and I feel the loss of all of them. It is a tough thing, but I honestly think it is for the best. I keep my true friends close to me, and if I see the others, I am glad to give them a smile and catch up with them for awhile before going on with my life.

    Love you and your's bunches! *HUG*

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  5. Heather: Your similar experiences are comforting to me! Thanks for sharing.

    Dina: I think that these particular relationships were created when we were kids and therefore based upon stuff from back then... waaaay back in the day. Now that we are older, the friendships have only continued, I believe, because we became like family. You know, like you may not have much in common with your siblings but you keep in touch because you just do sorta thing?

    Cory: Love you!! You rock!

    Jaime: I know how much the loss of long term friendships has affected you over the years. I've seen it. I've experienced it with you. It's hard. Love you bunches too!

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  6. Mandy..I am hurting so bad today and this week regarding this issue. You don't know how bad I needed to hear this. Straight from God through you. Thank you.

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