On Failing Friendships and Fitting In
Hello Everyone! For this article and topic we wanted to change things up a bit. Missy has a great testimony about the Lord's work in her life when it comes to relationships and fitting in. We thought it would be awesome if we could hear a bit of her story and get her perspective on this topic, so this article is done interview-style! I hope her words bring some hope and encouragement to any of you that are may be experiencing some difficulty in relationships or are having trouble figuring out where you fit in. Always have hope- our God is good and he loves YOU very much! - Mary Rose
Thanks for doing this interview with us! Why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself:
Hi! My name is Melissa, but most people call me Missy. I am a senior at Eastern Michigan University studying business with a focus in entrepreneurship. I am 21 years old. I have owned my own photography business for 3 years and I absolutely love it. I am also a member of University Christian Outreach in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
I'm really pumped about everything TLC is doing. When you guys (MR and Molly) started TLC a couple years ago, I was really excited because I think it’s really important that young women in our world are connected and stay bonded to each other as we walk through Christian life.
Cool, thanks Missy! So we wanted to talk about friendships and fitting in. Could you start by telling me what kind of school you went to for high school (secondary school)?
I went to a local public school and had about 500-600 other students in my entire class. Because I went to a public school, there were no religious education classes or many other Christian classmates, so I had to figure out how to build a relationship with Christ without much support. Looking back, I am thankful for my public school experience. It really forced me to find God in a personal way. And sure enough, God revealed himself to me.
Sounds kind of hard. Where did you find support then for your faith?
None of my school classmates went to the same church as me, or even believed in God. So I really depended on my church youth group to provide the Christian support I needed. Most of my non-school friends were people I had grown up with. So I had support from my childhood friends, but not much when it came to school. I found a lot of solace and refuge in my youth group. Everyone had faith similar to my own. I learned to cling tightly to those friendships and invest a lot in them.
I had a close group of friends in middle school that traveled with me into high school. Unfortunately, those friendships didn't make it through to the end of high school.
That sounds difficult. Can you share with us a bit more about that part of your story?
At the end of my 2nd year, I changed schools. I switched from the public high school to a program that allowed me to take local college classes and build up college credits. I changed schools for a variety of reasons but mostly because I didn't have any friends left at my public school. I found that I didn’t have much connection to my public school friend group anymore (specifically the friends that I had known since middle school). At the beginning of my 2nd year, I felt that my friendships had shifted a lot and we were slowly starting to see what we wanted in life and I could see we were heading in different directions.
I remember when I really realized my friendships were failing and I moved into panic mode and tried to hold tight to what was left. I really didn't want fall out with these girls because I didn't want to be 'the lonely girl' for the rest of high school. I tried to relate to them and tried so hard to have a connection with them. Eventually, we really fell out and it ended quite badly. It was a sour ending to what had been, at one time, good, close friendships.
This falling out really shook me. I had confided in these girls quite a bit over the years, and they ended up spreading some rumors about me that weren’t true. They spread rumors attacking my integrity and honesty. It was really hard for me because I wasn’t a mean person and wasn’t a liar, I thought they trusted me the way I trusted them. I realized that being friends with these girls, though, wasn’t allowing me to be who I was, a Christian. Especially at the end, I felt myself changing and doing whatever I could to “fit in” with the friendships. But eventually it became exhausting and that friends who make you change who you are…well they aren’t really friends.
It was really hard. I craved friendship, specifically with other woman my age. I found myself not being able to trust women my age because I felt really hurt.
How did you recover from that experience?
I found a lot of refuge in the Lord. I prayed every night that he would provide a friend for me and I knew that he was there and I knew that he was watching out for me. I also found comfort in my relationships with my sisters. In my new school environment, although the loneliness was still there, I felt freedom and space from what had happened the year before.
Looking back, what are they ways that the Lord answered your prayers during that time?
On the day my friendships really came to an end, the Lord immediately sent me some girls on my running team. They were captains and senior students. For some reason, they each called me and wanted to go on a run with me. I was able to turn to them and they were able to comfort me and share their experiences with me. One of them in particular said to me that she had experienced the same situation and she told me, “Pray every night. Pray for a friend every night and before you know it the Lord will have answered your prayer.”
Looking back, it was a remarkable moment. The Lord was immediately there, in the midst of my hurt, and had sent me what I needed to be comforted and to get the advice that I needed at that moment.
The Lord anticipated my needs before I knew them- that same year the Lord really gave me a passion for photography. I found something that was steady, that I could do on my own. This led to an interest on my part to switching schools because I was able to enroll in a photography program and the other school. In retrospect, the Lord giving me a passion for photography and opening the door for me to switch schools steered me away from an even lonelier and harder high school experience. If I had stayed, it would be have been extremely difficult and I wouldn't have ever been able to build a business.
What advice would you have for other woman who are experiencing conflict in their friendships or who are having a hard time fitting in with a group of friends?
If you are experiencing conflict- I would say to try to have as much empathy as you can for the person or people you are in conflict with. The biggest thing I learned, being on the receiving end of the conflict, was a realization that you have to be empathetic, kind, and place yourself in their shoes. You never know what that person is actually dealing with- perhaps they too are dealing with loneliness.
I think it’s really exhausting to try and fit in all the time. When we root ourselves in the Lord and stay true to who we are and what we believe in, the Lord honors that and sees it and gives us what we need, when we need it. His timing is so perfect. Don’t ever be afraid of not fitting in because we are under the Lord’s care.
Be confident in yourself. It’s going to be hard, it won’t always be easy and simple. But be patient- with the Lord and with yourself. Don’t let yourself become discouraged, don’t let yourself think that are the sole problem. The Lord makes everything right. I wouldn’t be where I am in my faith and life today, if this situation with my friend group hadn’t happened.
Thanks so much for chatting with us Missy, you're story is inspiring and encouraging!
Lord, help me to be a person who always seeks to include and not to alienate. Help me to love others the way you love them, for your love is much greater than mine. In times of distress and loneliness, I pray Father that you would give me friends, sisters in whom I can confide and share life with. I pray Lord that you would give me people who I can share my faith with. Help me to be a witness to my faith at all times, not just when it is comfortable.