“Best Friend”

I feel like the label “best friend” is a very complicated subject. A best friend is simply someone you love to be around, and who loves you back. It’s really not that different from a dating relationship, except that when you’re best friends there’s nothing romantic about it. It’s just two people who love each other and who like to hang out. Having best friends throughout my life has actually taught me a lot about people skills, and relationships, and the different types of relationships you can have.

When I was little my mom always suggested that I not have a “best friend” because it’s kind of a dumb label (I don’t remember if that was her reason, but it’s the best reason I can remember). I mean, what makes one friend better than another? When we use the label “best friend”, we cut off our options. A lot of people think you can only have one friend who’s “best”, and that’s not true. I mean, look at all the tv shows and movies where there were two besties, and one of them made a new friend. Usually someone’s jealous of this new friend because they’re afraid they’ll lose their bestie. And, sure, there’s the potential to lose your “best friend” when they make a new friend, but you could also turn your duo into a trio by accepting this new friend into the group. Or maybe your confidant (we’re gonna shy away from using the term “best friend” at the moment) has multiple friends, because they need multiple different people in their lives.

When I was little I thought my mom was wrong about the “best friends” label, because, once I got my first real best friend, I saw how cool it was, and how great it felt to have that one friend that I could go to with anything. But, the older I got, the more friends I made, and the more strong relationships I had, I realized that it’s kind of impossible to have one best friend. And the term “best friend” made it kind of complicated to have multiple besties. Each person in our lives holds a different purpose, and adds different things to our lives that maybe we didn’t know we needed (sometimes they add different things we know we didn’t need, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic). We need those different people in our lives, and by thinking we can only have one “best friend” we’re closing off a whole different door that could change our entire lives.

I don’t even know why the term “best friend” got started (maybe to make other friends jealous?), but to me it doesn’t mean that one friend is better than the other. It means that that friend is my confidant, my partner in crime, and my copilot. We stick together because we love each other, not because we’re somehow “better” than anyone else. I used that term because I needed a name for this person that I liked to hang out with, and best friend was the one the rest of the world used, so I stuck with that. However, from now on, I’m gonna try to stick with something more like confidant. Having a best friend isn’t (nor should it ever be) about who’s better, but about the people we love.

The Truth

When someone comes to me (clearly upset) and they ask for help, I’ve started to try to be really honest with them. Here’s an example question:

“I’m so nervouse/upset about this situation that’s coming up. I’m afraid I’ll fail. What if I screw up or totally fail?”

Some people would answer with, “Oh, no. You’ll do great.” Like, there’s no chance anything could go wrong. Well, news flash, there’s a ton of things that could go wrong.

In some situations, everything actually is fine, the person really doesn’t have anything to worry about, and they’re just freaking out over nothing. However, in others, they’re not actually prepared and they know it. Lying to someone by just saying, “You’ll do great,” is giving them this false sense of confidence. I’m not saying it’s bad to encourage them that way, but, when there are legitimate things to be nervous about, just ignoring them and hoping for the best doesn’t always work. In either situation, whether there are things to be nervous about or not, I try to help them (and myself) think about the realities of the situation.

I’m nervous pretty much every time I have an offertory to do at church. Not super nervous, I just know there are so many things that could go wrong no matter the amount of practice I have. Now, I can’t control what happens. The amount of worrying I do can only make my performance worse. So, something I try to do when I’m nervous and about to perform, is think about the lies and the truths. Observe:

Lie:

If I screw up, then I’ll never hear the end of it

Truth:

If I screw up, probably no one will remember, or really care

In every situation involving fear, it’s really just a battle of truths vs lies. That’s why, instead of just trying to make someone “feel better”, I try to help them see that they don’t have to believe the lies their fears tell them. I’m definitely gonna encourage them when the time seems right, but the time isn’t always right. Just making them “feel better” is like putting a band-aid on a wound that really needs a couple stitches. If you show them how to ignore the lies their fear tells them, then, eventually, they’ll have a much easier time dealing with fears in general. They’ll be better at fighting fear.

Hugs and Thank Yous

Because of my love of hugs, I hug a ton of people. There are a lot of people at my church that I love, and that kinda feel like family, so I almost have a list of people that I hug whenever I’m at church. Nobody really thought anything of it, but recently I’ve gotten a few thank yous when I hug people.

Some people love hugs, but are too introverted to go up and hug someone. Sometimes people need someone who’s not afraid to break boundaries, because it can be harder for them to break those boundaries themselves. Or, sometimes we’re in a hard spot in life, but we don’t know how to talk about it, or we don’t want to talk about. So, when we get that hug, it’s kinda like someone’s saying, “Hey, I’m here for you, and I love you. Keep going.”

There are a lot of reasons someone could be thankful for a hug. I know I’m really thankful for hugs. I’m the type of person who does a really good job of not showing it when I’m hurting, or when I need help. Not that I won’t ask for help, I just don’t let what’s going on rule my life (on the outside). So, when I get a hug from someone, or when I give a hug, there are a few moments when I feel better. When I’m hugged, I feel loved, and supported, and like I’ve got people who are continuously supporting me.

I love it when people say thank you when I give them a hug. It’s like that’s the thing I can do to brighten someone’s day, or love them, or make them feel better. However, hugs aren’t always a huge deal to people, and some people don’t even like hugs.

I’m reading a book right now about Love Languages. I haven’t gotten very far in yet, but it’s really interesting. It’s explaining that not everyone gets love from the same things. Some people need words of affirmation, or physical touch. Everyone’s different, but this is something I can do to love on people, and it’s one of my favorite things in the world.

I Is a Thankful Duck

I spent this last weekend home alone (not completely, but my sister was at work most of the days, so I was pretty much by myself), and so much happened that I’m really thankful for. So, for this post, I’m basically gonna tell you about my weekend, and some of the things I’m really thankful for.

In prep for my parents to leave, we were considering what to do if the power went out. We had a super bad snow storm two weeks ago, so we were trying to figure out what to do if we lost power (who we’d call, where we could go with our two dogs, etc.). My mom mentioned it to one of her friends, and almost immediately she said “Oh, they can come to my house.”

Thankful thing #1: how giving, and willing to go out of their way, so many people have been while my parents are gone; I’ve had multiple people make sure we had rides if we needed them, and be willing to go out of their way to help us

My parents left on Thursday. Thursday was a good day. I basically did whatever I wanted (and some school). There wasn’t much that happened, but I really enjoyed the peace and quiet. I was nervous about being left completely home alone because I didn’t know how I’d do if I was anxious or depressed and alone. But, it went great. I did pretty well not being anxious about things I had planned for later in the weekend, too.

On Friday, I didn’t do so hot. I did my best, but I was still pretty nervous about my best friend coming over later that night (my anxiety tends to pop up in social situations), so I spent a lot of the day battling anxiety and trying to calm myself down. Eventually, I called one of my youth leaders, and she really helped. She calmed me down, and she talked with me on the phone as long as she could/ as long as I needed to so I’d be distracted. Of course, when she had to hang up, my best friend hadn’t shown up at my house yet. I started getting nervous, but then I calmed myself down and when my bestie showed up I ran out and gave her a super big hug. We had a super fun night, and it was exactly what we both needed.

Thankful thing #2: people who take time out of their day to help me, and be there for me; even if it’s hard, even if it’s ugly, or scary; they’re still there

Next comes Saturday. Saturday morning we had puppet practice at church, and I was ecstatic. The lady who’s in charge of puppets said she’d pick us up and drop us off (even though she doesn’t live anywhere near my house). What made me so excited/ happy about puppet practice was that I felt completely normal. I was awake, I was ready, had no anxiety, and no nausea. Usually, when someone comes to pick me up, I’m a wreck. But, I felt just as normal as I did long before any of this even started. Saturday night I had a small group party, and the same thing happened with that. I felt happy, and excited, and not the least bit nervous.

Thankful thing #3: I have a friend who lives nearby who was able to give me rides Saturday night through Sunday afternoon; so, if I felt bad (anxious, nervous, nauseous), I had someone there who knew what to do, could help me, and wouldn’t ask many questions or worry about me because she’s pretty in the loop

Sunday morning was one of the primary things I was thankful for. If I’m anxious, Sunday mornings are always the hardest, so I had no idea how I’d feel that week. I woke up super early on Sunday (not on purpose), so I had plenty of time to wake up, and get a good state of mind going. As far as anxiety goes, I had a little. (That’s primarily because I had some sort of bug this week, so my stomach was upset, anxiety or not.) I think I did really well with managing what little anxiety I had. I went to church, felt great, and felt normal. I was able to do all the things I used to, and I really enjoyed them.

A friend of mine really started getting me into talking to people about my anxiety, and not being afraid to talk about what’s going on in my life. So, while I was helping in the 2’s and 3’s room that morning, I didn’t shy away from talking about it when some friends of mine asked how I was doing. These friends of mine are adults, one of which being my friend’s mom, and they’re the dopest (that’s a technical term).

I don’t normally hug this friend’s mom (nor do I normally hug random people, as hard as that is to believe), but I did that morning because it just seemed to fit, and she’s dope, and I figured she’d like hugs. So, I gave her a quick hug, but then she held onto that hug way longer than I did. So I stayed there, and while we were hugging she told me a verse that has to do with anxiety. I don’t know if she was trying to be encouraging, but she totally did, and it really helped. Not only is scripture helpful, but knowing that I have people in my life who love me, and are willing to help me, makes going to church, and doing anything, a lot easier. (And, hugs in general are great.)

Thankful thing #4: I’m thankful for all the people at my church who love me, and tell me that; there are so many people I could go to if I needed anything, even if that’s just a hug

Thankful thing #5: all the BEAUTIFUL kids at my church who bring joy to my life; they probably don’t know it, and I doubt they ever will, but they’ve really made this time I’ve been anxious a lot easier (anytime I’d feel anxious, or like I really didn’t want to “people”, I knew I could go and get a hug from one of my kiddos; it really made me feel a lot better)

And, Thankful thing #6: I am thankful for all the super cool moms I’ve gotten to know through working with kids at my church; all these moms show so much love, and they treat me like a person, not just a kid; they encourage me, and treat me like a friend; I don’t know why that’s always stood out to me, but I do know that there’s this crazy band of strong, godly women in my life, and I’m incredibly thankful to be able to call them my friends

What To Do?

Sometimes life is just hard. Sometimes for us, and sometimes for other people. We see those people struggling and think about all the times we wish someone was there for us when we felt bad, so we do everything we can to keep that person from feeling the pain we felt. We try to fix their problems for them.

I get wanting to help people. It’s generally a good thing. But, sometimes helping looks different than we think. Most often, if I’m going to someone with a problem, it isn’t because I need them to fix it. And, if they fix it, then I won’t learn it as well (see this post, I’m Such A Mom, if you’re interested in more thoughts on this topic). I’m a smart kid. I know that if something’s really wrong, I need to go to my parents. But, sometimes life just sucks, and I need someone to talk to. Sometimes I go to a friend, or a youth leader, and I just need to talk, or vent. I don’t need them to fix everything for me, I need them to listen. Not every problem is a crises that needs fixing.

Some of my favorite youth leaders have always done a really good job of not fixing things for me. they’ll ask me questions to make me think through things. They’ll listen when I need someone to talk to, but, when they see something they think is important to point out, they talk to me about it. Without pressuring me. They give me space to screw up, and always remind me that they’re there when I need them.

When life is hard we don’t always need answers, or solutions. Sometimes we just need to cry. Just need to vent. Just need to talk. We don’t always need fixes, or people pressuring us to fix things. We need to be reminded that we’re loved, that the people who love us have our backs, and that eventually we’ll learn our way through what’s going on, and we’ll be stronger in the end because of it.

I think what I wrote is valuable and important, but I also think there’s another side to it. Check back on Thursday at 5pm for the second half to this story.