Sunday, July 23, 2017

When Times Are Tough + Friends Are Few

"When times are tough, friends are few." 

The above sentence was offered as a common consolation in my grief over lost friends.

My medical issues just began to surface in late middle and early high school. Most adolescents are familiar with the loud ringing of the school bell announcing the much anticipated change of classes. Rowdy students fill the halls, conversing with friends about the latest gossip and the plans for the upcoming weekend.

For me, that life came to a screeching halt when I got sick. I was more accustomed to the sound of IV beeping pumps and the alarms of the hospital monitors. My social circle was quickly replaced by doctors, as my symptoms demanded I stop going to public school like I always had. Homebound did not hold the same appeal. The friends who knew me prior to my illness seemingly fell off the face of the earth. Their offers to hang out dwindled. They were nowhere to be found.

Within the next years, the number of appointments decreased and my symptoms were decently managed. I was then able to physically attend school for a couple of courses and complete the remainder of my credits online. I expected to pick up right where I left off. To my disappointment, my return back to school was not met with the happy welcoming of my expectations. Old friends proceeded to ignore my attempts at conversation. It was awkward. They could not understand how their once healthy, active friend they had known their entire life was suddenly struck with severe illness, nor could I comprehend the reason why they deserted me when I desperately needed support.

Looking back, it is understandable. I was incredibly young when I became ill. Nobody was really at fault. My peers did not know what to say, so saying nothing was the easiest recourse, and I fell into the habit of silence to cope with my hurt feelings. But I carried resentment over this for years.

I have noticed that the situation is difficult to handle at any age. The "when times are tough, friends are few" statement has held true well into adulthood. Hardships definitely test the strength of friendships. They show that even the loyalest of friends will disappoint on occasion, creating feelings of abandonment.

Although painful, grieve and forgive. It is easy for the negative emotions to take over, but they can become toxic to a chronically ill body.  Instead of allowing hatred to accumulate, focus that energy on healing.
At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was delivered from the lion’s mouth. - 2 Timothy 4:16-17, NIV
Find the strength not to hold the anger against them. Letting go of the those hurts is rather freeing.