I’ve mentioned that I think everything flows out of relationship. What better way to start a conversation about relationships than with an example of what NOT to do?
It was my eighth-grade year and I was a cheerleader. Don’t hate me. Lots of good blog fodder will come from my participation in the sport. And, yes, it is a sport. (Jon and I have a running argument about this). A new girl showed up at school and she was the “it” girl. She was lots of fun and everybody wanted to be her friend. Fun Girl lived in my neighborhood just a few blocks away and we became close, best friends really, especially when we found out we’d be transferring to high school together.
We had frequent sleepovers, hung out with each other’s families, and spent summers swimming and going to camp and youth group. During the school year we carpooled together and I still remember the sight of her mother as I watched from the backseat. She was always perfectly made up and, as she drove, her freshly-manicured hand would reach down for the portable coffee mug she seemed to always have with her to deliver a sip of coffee to her mouth and, afterward, a single lower lip mark would remain from her expertly-applied lipstick. She wore perfume and lots of bracelets, so they’d clink together as she moved her hand from coffee mug to steering wheel and back again. (Come to think of it, this sounds a little like me except for the make-up, perfume and bracelets).
At any rate, Fun Girl and I entered high school as BFFs. It was a new world and I remember being nervous the first day and intimidated by all of the existing friendships. My friendship with Fun Girl was a safe place for me as I was launched into a sea of kids who’d been going to school together for years. But she quickly began making new friends – and the most popular ones at that – and I felt a little like I’d been left behind in the dust. Chopped liver.
Fun Girl developed a close friendship with another girl who also lived in our neighborhood. Third Girl was in my circle of friends but we never seemed to make inroads toward each other as Fun Girl stood between us somehow. Third Girl was her friend and I clearly got the message that I was not welcome, until one day, when I found myself carpooling with Third Girl regularly. On one of those car rides we put two and two together and figured out that we’d had the wool pulled over our eyes. Fun Girl had been feeding each of us lies about the other one, making stuff up about how I didn’t like her and she didn’t like me, in order to keep us pitted against one another and prevent a friendship from forming between us.
I was devastated. To understand how HUGE this was you must know that I’m a very loyal friend. While not perfect, I take relationships and commitments seriously and wouldn’t have dreamed of betraying a friend. This soap-opera-like situation contained downright lies, social jockeying, manipulation and maneuvering – stuff that just wasn’t in my DNA. The Betrayal rocked my world and I was depressed for a while. I’d been hurt in my “safe place” and, what’s worse: I was completely ignorant to the fact that it had been going on for some time.
Not long after the truth came out, Third Girl was sleeping over at my house one night (things can really turn on a dime in high school, can’t they?) when we decided to take revenge on Fun Girl. We snuck out of my house after my parents went to sleep, walked the few blocks to Fun Girl’s house, and rolled her trees with toilet paper. LOTS of toilet paper. To put the icing on the cake, we stuck feminine napkins to the windows of her bedroom. Nice touch, huh? After returning home we decided we’d throw my parents off our trail by rolling the trees in my front yard as well. Then it would be obvious that we weren’t the perpetrators, right? Brilliant.
We went to bed smug and satisfied, laughing and high-fiving each other, resting securely in the toilet-paper-thin insurance policy we’d displayed in my own front yard. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out what happened next. After receiving an early morning call from Bracelets, it took Mom all of thirty seconds to check the linen closet before she called us on our own game. We were cold busted.
Right here I’d like to go on the record as saying I no longer endorse this type of behavior, bu-ut… a smarter plan would have at least involved using an outside supplier. Certainly don’t use the stash that’s monitored with the eyes of a hawk.
What’s the point of this story? I’m glad you asked.
For starters, seeking revenge has never been the right volume. Looking to even the score doesn’t bear fruit or bring joy. Also, don’t underestimate the limits that one hurt can place on your freedom or your calling. Make sure you go back and do the work you need to do by: 1. identifying the hurts you’ve suffered and perpetrated 2. praying through them 3. forgiving those involved (including yourself) and 4. moving forward in freedom. And remembering not to be a complete and total idiot is a good guideline as well.
I’ve learned another thing or two from The Betrayal and My Reaction to it that I’ll share as we go along. For now, I can certainly say that it caused me to be more guarded in my friendships with girls – an unfortunate thing really. Is it a coincidence that I feel passionate about leading women to stand up and step out and use their voices for God’s glory and their own enjoyment? Hmmm….more on that later. In the meantime, thanks for listening!
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