The Mirage

I’ve been stewing over this thought for the last couple of weeks. I almost didn’t write it out, but if there is anything I have learned about myself over the last seven years, it is that I process things through writing, so here it is. I’ve also learned over the last seven years that I am not alone on this journey towards healing! There are thousands of us trudging and clawing our way to being mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy, so I share.

I am also going to preface this by saying, I have no malice or anger towards anyone, I simply carry hurt. But I’m working on it.

If you are familiar at all with the Meyer-Briggs personality types, I am one hundred percent an INFJ. Which means introverted, intuitive, feeling, and judging.

The website describes it this way:

“Colloquially known as “the advocate” or “the idealist” type, the acronym “INFJ” stands for “introverted, intuitive, feeling, judging.” Carl Jung, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Martin Luther King, Jr. had INFJ personality types. INFJ types are compassionate, idealistic, and likely to form close bonds with people.”

“Likely to form close bonds with people.” Yep, there it is. And the reality of this personality type is that we are the ones who get extra emotionally attached, whether it be to friends or to family, and we will do anything we can to keep those bonds strong.

But the reality is that a lot of people have a different view of relationships, and to them, the bond is flexible, able to be bent and moved at the first sign of a challenge or change. This is a difficult view for us INFJs to process. I’m not here to say either side is right or wrong.

My entire life used to be wrapped up in my church. Both my actual family and also my friends who said they were “just like family” my relationships revolved around the church. Lunches every Sunday with my family, practices, and after church snacks with my church family, traveling for Bible Quizzing tournaments and conferences, we were together all the time.  We didn’t have time to form relationships with anyone else. That’s just the reality of it.

But, what I have discovered in the years since stepping away from this lifestyle is that those relationships you thought were forever were simply there out of convenience. The only reason we were such a close family or church “family” was simply because we happened to be in the same place at the same time. When it came right down to it, when anyone had to put in any sort of effort to maintain the relationship, it turned out that we weren’t as close as I thought we were.

So, were those family and friends’ relationships authentic at all? Or were they just a mirage, something that seemed like it was there, but when you got close to it, it was just my imagination? Was any part of my experience with them genuine? Or did they just like or even “love” me because it was convenient for them at the time?

That stings. Like, a lot. I poured my heart and soul into those people. I loved them with my whole heart. I thought we would stand the test of time together. But as it turns out, it was just the UPC holding us together. As soon as my beliefs changed, those people scattered like sand in the wind.

No more family Sundays, no more trips to DQ to grab a bite, no more heart to heart discussions. All of it, just gone. Like a mirage. When things got down to the nitty gritty, our relationships couldn’t stand the challenge of authenticity.

I’m not pointing fingers here, I’m sure our exit from the UPC deeply hurt these people. Yet, here I am seven years later, still mourning the loss of something I thought was reality. I’ve said it many times that leaving the UPC was like grieving a death. And just like grieving a death, the pain never goes away. Sure, we are functioning and moving forward, but the void in our lives never actually heals.

I’ve heard it said many times, we can not expect other people to behave how we want them to. And I accept this, but it still hurts. How do I move on? I don’t want to keep chasing the same mirage.

I honestly don’t have a solid answer to this. In my heart, it cuts deeply when I still want to have a relationship with these people just like we used to. Or at least how I perceived we used to. I miss the laughter and the togetherness I felt. I wish I had a magic potion to just not care any longer. But I don’t. The only thing I know to do is give them grace and give the hurt to Jesus.

I will say, however, through this experience, I have learned that there are people who are willing to put effort into our friendship. People who, while it may take months of planning for us to be able to see each other in person, they are willing to make sacrifices to make it a priority. People who make themselves available for prayer emergencies, venting conversations, funny memes, or just a quick check-in. It’s refreshing to me because I know these people are real. They genuinely care. It may not be convenient for them to have a relationship with me, it is something they choose to work at, but they do it. I am thankful every day for the people in my life who put forth the effort.

I just want you to know, I see you, and I appreciate you.

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