“I think I need to love myself and let God love me before I’m in a relationship.” She said as we began our 45 minute drive.
” I agree. I totally agree.”
Finally. After almost 2 years of friendship she was starting to get what I had started saying to her from the beginning. It wasn’t often we had breakthroughs, and much of the time I wondered if they were breakthroughs or if she was just saying what she thought I wanted her to say. She had been abused as a child. Her tendency to people please at the expense of what she truly felt was more likely. I would take it. At least I knew she had heard me out. Once at least.
Her story is sad and broken, and unfortunately for her the issues she dealt with and are dealing with are very obvious. Her social skills are limited to saying everything, no matter how immature or unfiltered. Her desire for acceptance and love at the expense of her own dignity were a problem. She was open with everyone about her counseling. She told everyone exactly what she was thinking, when she thought it. She knew these things about herself, but she didn’t care. She had an excuse for them. She was entitled to them.
I often worried if that entitlement would ever cause her to heal.
Entitlement is a pride issue. I personally deal with it. I am a Type 1 diabetic who suffers from hypothyroidism and depression. I feel entitled to my depression sometimes, because I have a lot going on and it’s really difficult to deal with. But that feeling of entitlement isn’t going to help me get better. It’s something I have to combat daily, because I am aware it’s a problem, and I have to take responsibility for that. Lately my depression has been improving. Partly because I am taking medication for my thyroid, which I think improves my mood and my energy, and partly because I find myself spending more time reading my Bible, and understanding the power my God has.
On our car ride, I did a lot of listening. I usually do, mainly because I can pick up so much about her and what she really thinks just by picking up on the things she jokes about or offhandedly mumbles to herself. I enjoy listening to conversation, even if it is a one sided one. I get info about her life. I get updates on her family and friends. I hear all the drama I am distant from. Also am usually unable to get a word in edgewise so listening is my only option.
When I do speak, it is with a great deal of authenticity. I want her to know I am real. I want her to know what I really think. I want her to hear what a broken person can be like without the people pleasing and the drama. Of course, I talk about God, because she has very little understanding of theology. She was raised Catholic, but not very seriously. She believes in spiritual forces and life after death. She is vague on salvation and how it is received. I had to explain to her once why Catholics glorify the Vergin Mary, because she didn’t know. I’m not even Catholic I tend to lean Evangelical Free with a mix of Arminian. I just pretend to be Catholic when I attend family weddings, funerals, and first communions (I even own a rosary)….as well as the occasional mass at my cousins Catholic school when she has family day…and I make jokes about St. Anthony messing with me when I misplace something…or felt like introverting into hermit oblivion (because I somewhat recall him being a hermit or a Patron Saint of hermits, but I can’t really remember).
I spoke to a close friend of mine on the phone a few days later, recounting how much hope it gave me to know something God put on my heart to tell her she had heard. How much I had hoped that it wasn’t from people pleasing and she really meant what she said. She reminded me ” Sometimes you plant the seed and water it, and sometimes you plant the seed and someone else does later in life.” It was encouraging, and made me very hopeful that she would come to know The Lord, or at the very least build some kind of respect for herself.
I keep praying. I keep listening. I keep learning and loving. I can’t do more.