I am confident in saying that I am a content person. I like me, and in general, I have always liked me. So, I was quite surprised to find that in the face of reconnecting with a high school friend for the first time in 18 years, I was more than a little reluctant to make the connection.
Never one to shrink from a challenge - Fear is not of God - I turned to face my struggle. What I found in my heart was that I am who I want to be. I am where I want to be. And I feel deep gratitude for the life that I am blessed to be living.
What I struggled with was my expectation of how my high school friend would see my life. You see, I grew up in a very affluent area in California. I have great memories of junior high and high school and the friends which I had during those developmental years. I was also blessed to have spent my younger formative years relatively poor. So, when my circumstances changed in 8th grade, I had a foundation that allowed me not to get too caught up in some of the more surface mindsets in my new area. But I admit that I stumbled from time to time.
I am trying to be polite in writing, which makes me verbose. When what I want is to get to the point, and I can best do this with a few illustrations from my high school years. A few examples:
A high school acquaintance was in gales of tears in the girls’ bathroom on her 16th birthday. Why? Because her parents gave her the year old BMW for her birthday and not a brand new one. Her friends were all present and commiserating over how unfair it was to receive the “used” BMW while her parents bought themselves a new one.
Another acquaintance received the customary, for her family, gift of a trip to Switzerland around her 17th birthday. Where, as proceeded her other siblings, a freak skiing accident injured her nose and which necessitated an operation which just happened to remove the cultural bump from her nose. Happy Birthday.
I myself received my first car because I held my proverbial breath long enough to make everyone miserable with my poor attitude until they gave in and bought me the car. Be assured, I did not have to act out long. Not only did I get a car, but a gas card, insurance and all the upgrades that I wanted for me vehicle. All simply to end a week long tantrum.
The point of these illustrations are that I grew up in a a very privileged area. As I matured, I realized that I did not want my life, or the life of my children to be about money and status. I also did not want to go back to my impoverished roots. I wanted a balanced life. Therefore, I repented, I changed and I embraced a simpler way a life. A life I was sure that I loved, until I saw it through the eyes of my former self. Eyes which I was sure my friend, who now lives in Southern California, must surely still have.
Once I stepped back and reflected on my humbler life - a house that I can afford, my gardening and canning each year. Making clothes for my family from time to time. Making soap and body products (my other business). The need to save and prepare for trips and vacations. My inability to travel the world at a moments notice. I realized that this is my life by choice, not by requirement or circumstances. I chose God, faith and family as my riches in this world. I really am OK with who I am and how I am.
After that it was easy to connect with my dear friend who spoke nothing about money or circumstances. Who only wanted to know about me and my family - not about my job, my car or how many bathrooms I have in my house (one!). Renee turned out to be a true friend even after all these years and I am grateful for her reaching out to reclaim me as one of her friends even after all this time.
In this new year, I encourage you to stop and reflect on what is so RIGHT with your life. Focus on the accomplishments that bring your joy, no matter how big or small that they might be in someone else’s eyes. I encourage you to step closer to embracing the wonderful about you and around you and know that you are loved.