Looking In

My best friend lives in Nebraska. I live in Oregon. It takes some work to keep up a friendship across half a country, but we manage. Maybe it’s that while I’m flitting from state to state, she’s constant–always there. I have called her to share joys, to wail “Why?”, to ask for prayer, to ask for advice. She has prayed with me over the phone while tears streamed down my face, told me about her own screw-ups worse than mine, and challenged me to be a better person. I love her for it.

I still often wonder why we’re friends, but I am so glad we are.

And sometimes, when the stars align and we’re both in the same state at the same time, I get to visit her.

When I go to her house, I belong. I usually knock–more so she knows I’m there than for permission to enter. I might grab a glass of water (or whatever crazy concoction she’s drinking lately)…if she’s busy with children or her studio I’ll peruse her library for a while, making a stack to take home with me. I know where the other light switch is in the bathroom and about the pile of laundry downstairs by the washer. We fold our legs up on the couch and chatter, interrupted by children and the phone, and we share our lives.

And because I feel like I belong, I act like I do.

Earlier this week I went to worship team practice. I’ve been acting as the backup keyboardist for about 4 months now. I don’t feel like I belong. I love it, don’t get me wrong, but I’m not really a part of the team. I’m just a hole-filler…someone to make sure there’s not a gap when the regular keyboardist is gone. And that’s okay.

But I realized this: because I don’t feel like I belong there, I don’t act like I belong.

Because I am an outsider, I act as an outsider. And because I act as an outsider, I am an outsider.

I know I hold myself apart in an unfamiliar group setting.  And I know that doing this keeps me outside of that ring that I want to join.  Get me one-on-one, and you’ll discover a whole other me–one that cracks jokes and has something to contribute.  So why is it that I act like I don’t belong…and then wonder why I don’t?

I don’t know what the answer is.  Perhaps it’s simply time.  Time to get to know these people, time to trust them, time to step towards them one foot at a time.

And I know you’re out there, too.  You who holds yourself apart, you who recognizes the distance but doesn’t know how to close it.  What will you do today to act like you belong?

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2 thoughts on “Looking In

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve discovered over the years that I am in introvert. At some point, I just redraw because the noise and “goings on” are too much. I have a very small group of friends and an even smaller group of “sister friends”. I have some, as you do, who feel so comfortable and we can ease right back into our connections even when we have been apart for months.

    Terri T.

  2. You are very lucky Bezerker….You have a best friend. I think it’s hard to fathom for some who have best friends, that those who haven’t found somebody to connect with at such a deep level, are maybe not doing it to themselves….the subtle implication being forwarded here is that there is something wrong with those who don’t change themselves to get inside a group…or lie so they can have a “best friend. All these thoughts based on a behavioral model of conformity that says if you act a certain way, then you will eventually become that way. Outside – ln theology….work your behaviors and your heart has to follow. Modern Christianity.
    Maybe people who have this warped outlook on life, don’t realize what a wonderful and precious gift it is to meet somebody who they connect so deeply and comfortably with…..why else would you lay out the challenge…what will you do to act like you belong? Is there a difference between acting like you belong and acting like you don’t belong? It all sounds like acting to me.
    (this is how I felt…that day)
    I know somebody that I would do anything to be best friends with…well, almost anything….I won’t deny who I am. If I lie about me to make my life safe and comfortable and full of friends…well, then, why live. You should watch a movie called “Knights Tale.” Love always chooses the participants. Any other way is just Outside/In.
    BTW, this person I would do anything to be BF’s with, if they happened to write this column….I would still “like” them…dearly. (I lied when I used the word, “like”)

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