The girls and I made a trip down to Pensacola a few weekends ago. We had a great time.
We played at the beach, which was just as glorious as we remembered…
Indulged in some ice cream…
Visited with friends…
and drove by our old house, which apparently is now inhabited by people who like lawn decorations.
While we were there, Abby also made contact with something that caused a pretty severe allergic reaction.
There were so many new and unusual things in her environment that weekend – the ocean, several animals, being in the country, staying in other people’s homes – that we’ll probably never know what caused it. She had an itchy rash on Monday that spread all over her face and neck by Tuesday. On Wednesday her whole face was terribly swollen, and unfortunately it stayed that way for a week. Poor thing, she was miserable. Whatever caused it, I hope Abby never comes in contact with it again!
We had a wonderful time and I’m really glad we went. Relationally, the two years we lived in Pensacola were tough for me. I never felt connected, never felt like we were part of the group…in fact, I often thought we were being deliberately pushed out of groups. I would go to events and hope to make friends, but I always found myself sitting on the outside with a smile plastered on my face, feeling horribly left out and alone. And the whole time, I blamed the other people. I guess I thought they should make the effort to get to know us, since we were the new people in town.
But our weekend trip – the chance to revisit those places and some of those people – gave me a new and (I think) improved perspective. When we first arrived at the beach that afternoon, we saw some people we had gone to church with when we lived there. (How’s that for coincidence?) And they were just as nice and friendly as they could be. We spoke for a few minutes, and then my kids wanted my attention and I moved away from the group for a moment. When my kids ran back to the water, I stood on the sand, alone, unsure of whether or not I should go back over to the women and join their conversation.
And it hit me: I was being selfish. All this time, when I was worried about people not inviting me to things, or not talking to me, or whatever it was, I was only thinking about ME. Maybe if I spent more time thinking about THEM and what they might need and how I could serve them, things could have been very different when we lived there. At the root of all my insecurities (Are my clothes cool enough? Is my hair right? Am I funny or interesting enough?) is selfishness. What if I had gone to those functions thinking more about the other people? What if I didn’t form close relationships during our time there because I was projecting all those ugly insecurities onto other people, when the real problem was in my own heart?
And so, I picked up my towel and my courage and walked over to the group of women. They smiled and invited me to consolidate our beach areas. I felt accepted. I also felt stupid, because the revelation of my selfishness was about four years too late.
Four years too late for Pensacola, maybe. But hopefully I have learned from this experience and will remember to be more aggressive in forming friendships in the future. That old saying “Everyone is fighting a battle” is so true. I want to be the kind of person who supports other people in their battles; no longer the person who is angry that no one is helping me fight mine…or worse, who assumes that I’m the only one with a battle to be fought.