The faces in the photo were overcome with joy, smiling big. Four girls leaning on each other, one in a wedding dress. A ton of Instagram hearts below solidified its status as a joyful memory and a lovely photo. But looking at it made me want to cry.
A little over a year ago, I traveled to Uganda with a group of total strangers. Though none of us knew each other before the trip, and we had nothing in common beyond saying “yes” to flying across the world to serve together, we all quickly bonded over our shared experiences in this new place and became fast friends. We worshipped together, cleaned up a library together, planted fields of grass together, ate together, and danced with girls rescued from trafficking together. We were a team, leaning on and learning from each other, and I flew home to Missouri with a deep hope that, though we were all from different states and places, we would somehow stay connected as friends.
I later learned that several of them had the same idea. A handful of times over the past year since we returned, I have seen photos pop up on social media of several folks from our trip getting together at conferences, events, or just because. It hurts to admit this, but I have never been invited to any of these get-togethers. The first few times, I tried to brush it off as coincidence and not take it personally. Later, I tried to reach out in a positive (not a whiny) way and say things like, “So fun that y’all were able to get together! Let me know for next time – I’d love to see you again!” Once, one of the other girls and I actually did make a plan to get together in her hometown, but she later cancelled on me. No big deal…things happen. But I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt.
I blinked down at this new photo that had just popped up on social media. It was a handful of the girls from the trip celebrating at one’s wedding. It appeared that they all took part in the wedding as her bridesmaids, while I wasn’t even invited at all. To be fair, I fully support her right to have whomever she wants at her wedding. I just didn’t understand why they were all included, and I was left out…again. I thought we were friends, too.
I wish I could say the biggest emotion I felt upon seeing this photo was pure happiness for my friend getting to marry her sweetheart. Instead, tears filled my eyes and my heart cracked open, prayers spilling over. It wasn’t the wedding, it was all of it. All the times I’d been left out by these girls over the past year bubbled up all at once, and all I could do was cry. Lord, I sobbed, I believe you have to be a friend to have a friend. I have prayed over these girls, texted with them in the middle of the night, encouraged them, tried my best. So it really stinking hurts to realize that I have been left out and left hanging these past several months. The only common denominator here seems to be…me. Did I do something wrong? Were we not as close as I thought? Have I not been a good friend to them? Did they just forget about me? (more…)