For years I felt it… In high school, I had a solid group of five friends. We had our drama, our ups and downs, but we were tight. I was so lucky to have this group- my people, my crew. Senior year was amazing, because we were together. We knew we would all be leaving for various colleges come fall, so we soaked up every minute of our last school year together. Then the summer came.
I started noticing that three of the five were hanging out more. I was one of the two left out. It started slow. Just one night, maybe while I was working, which was to be expected, right? But then the next time I didn’t get the invite, even when I was free. By the end of summer, the tear between us was so strong, we didn’t even say goodbye in person before all going our separate ways. My heart was broken.
What had I done wrong? What was wrong with me? Why was I the one no longer invited? Wanted? Included? Was I a bad friend? Why was I not good enough for them? The questions haunted me for years. I eventually found out that they were drinking and they knew I wouldn’t want to be part of it. That’s why they hid it and stopped inviting me… but it was too late, the lies were already planted.
I believed the lies and they took root like weeds in a garden. Like weeds turn beautiful, luscious plants to brown, lifeless piles, so had these lies sucked the life out of an otherwise healthy and stable teenager. And the weeds grew and grew. But it all started with the seed, the first assumption.
And for years I saw myself as the odd-man-out. I was the misfit toy. I was a bad friend. When I switched schools half way through freshman year, I was the new girl and everyone else had already established friendships. When I joined a small group that had already been together, I was the outsider. When I got married young, everyone else was still partying. I was the temporary substitute. I was the new teacher, not the veteran, like the rest of my team. I had a baby surrounded by newlyweds. I didn’t fit anywhere. The scars were deep and my sense of self-confidence was non-existent.
There’s a theory called ‘confirmation bias’ which tells us to take new evidence and use it to confirm an existing belief. It goes like this: when you buy a red car, you then notice all of the other red cars on the road. You wouldn’t have specifically noticed it before, but because you are now aware of it, you see them everywhere. Because the seed-beliefs had been planted that I wasn’t a good friend, I wasn’t wanted, and I didn’t fit, I saw that in every situation.
Author Lysa Terkeurst writes, that “You steer where you stare.” I couldn’t see past the lie. And because it was all I saw, I missed so many opportunities. I shrunk back from friendships and avoided making connections. I didn’t reach out to old friends or attempt to make new ones. Because I had tunnel-vision on the belief that I was not enough and wouldn’t be valuable as a friend, I steered away from every possibility of making deep connections. I sunk into the comfort of home. And we all know growth does not happen in our comfort zones, right?
This was the unfortunate truth of my life for about six years. I prayed for real friendships but wouldn’t pursue them. I allowed myself to fall victim to the lie that I wasn’t a good friend and wouldn’t be of value to another woman. For years I hid and distanced myself. I shrunk back and at any social gathering I clung to my husband for security.
Breaking the hold the lies had on me was a slow process. They didn’t take hold over night and it wouldn’t be a quick process to heal from the behaviors I created because of them. I was blessed to be able to establish friendships at a job where my coworkers and the tasks were incredibly healing to me. That was the first step and reintroduced me to my confidence and the belief that I was valuable. It began the process of pulling me from the slumps and onto even ground. When we found out we were moving, I was determined never to return to that darkness. I started pursing who my Creator says I am and how He sees me. I jumped head first into relationship building, making connections, and joining all of the mom-groups I could find in our new area. Instead of being held captive by the fear that I was unwanted, I became intentional.
Want to know what I found? I’m actually a pretty cool person to be around and I have the ability to add value to others. And my life is full of beautiful people who build me up daily.
What lie have you been believing about yourself for too long, friend? What belief did you create that you are finding confirmation for in unrelated situations? Where are you letting the tunnel vision of the lie steer you?