I'm going to try and keep this short to make it more accessible: I've been doing quite a bit of thinking lately; one big recent realization I've had is that the way I have been living just isn't cutting it. You know I've talked about wanting change, and liking without obsessing, but there's one other topic that needs to be discussed: my attitude towards my friends.
Over the years, I've had lots of people try to reach out to me; the only problem was that, if they didn't do/say what I wanted, I lashed out against them. It's been happening all my life; when I was a little kid, I missed out on buying a Charlie Brown book at a yard sale because I wouldn't read the title out loud like the lady who was selling it wanted me to do. As time went by, it became more and more frequent; I missed out on everything from youth group outings to seeing movies at the theater to my high school prom just because I was unwilling to try it. Oh, sure, I always had some excuse: "I already saw that movie." "Do you realize what goes on at school dances? I don't want to see that!" "I don't think I'd enjoy it."
It would seem that I have an irrational aversion to some things. When I was a kid, I was interested in going to a theme park--shocking, I know!--and I asked my two best friends if they wanted to go. The one guy would have liked to go, but couldn't because of medical reasons related to his severe asthma; the other simply refused because of some traumatic incident that happened on a previous visit. When it comes to theme parks, you would think that I had a similar experience; why else would I continually refused to go? However, nothing like that happened; the last time I went, I had fun. It just so happened that, when I got into high school and realized how long it had been since I'd set foot there, I didn't feel deprived, and decided to hate it because it took less effort; that way, I didn't have to worry about scheduling a time to go with friends.
That right there is why people were so insistent that I go on outings to theme parks: My aversion was baseless, and they wanted to include me. It was the same way with school dances: My friends weren't badgering me about it to harass me; they were trying to help me out. I've spent years defending myself, even claiming that a friend's allergic reaction was why God didn't want me at my high school prom. (How can I even know that? I don't know the mind of God better than any other mere human!)
It gets even worse when it comes to changes in my lifestyle. People have suggested all kinds of things--new ventures, possible career paths, joining social groups, activities that would enrich my life and relationships with others, etc.--and I largely refused because it required change on my part. In short, I just wanted to keep on doing as I was doing; it wasn't worth the risk to change anything. Sometimes, I even lashed out at them, which made them very unhappy with me. There were even times where friends informed me about things I probably would have liked, but I just ignored them; in some cases, those friends became former friends.
All that has got to change. If I'm going to get anywhere in life, I'm going to have to take risks, at least consider others' suggestions or offers, and address my friends when they're trying to show me that they care about me. So, for any friends or former friends who have experienced such treatment at my hands, I must apologize. Seriously, you did not deserve to be verbally attacked and/or ignored for doing what you did. I'm not doing this just so I'll get re-added onto some folks' friends lists; frankly, I'd be just fine with not getting a single friend request out of this. Even if you feel our friendship will never be restored--and, no, forgiveness does not necessarily mean reconstruction--I still need to own up for what I have done.
I will end by saying this: One of Jesus' most famous sayings is, "Healthy people don't need a doctor; the sick do." When you look at the Gospels, you realize that everyone Jesus encountered was "sick"; though not all of them had infirmities or demons, all of them were in need of Jesus' love and forgiveness. However, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and others were too proud to realize what they really needed, which is why Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, the prostitutes and tax collectors are entering heaven ahead of you." For too long, I have been a Pharisee. I was so sure that I was right about anything and everything that there was no room for disagreement from anyone; my friends could either agree with me or leave, and right many chose the latter. Even some who stayed friends couldn't express their opinions, because I staunchly disagreed with them. So what if I was obsessed with various actresses? Why did it matter if I was too friendly with the womenfolk? Who cares if I'm well into my twenties and still living like a child? It was not for them to judge...and that's the attitude that cost me. I even defended it on here; I once made a post that was a purposefully vague defense of not expressing congratulations to those who were engaged, which was manipulative on my part. I'm not the same person anymore; if you look at the sidebar on my blog, you'll see that many of the old posts--over a hundred of them!--were deleted because they were simply either too dogmatic or too whiny, if not both. Starting a new Facebook account to wash away all the history was done for essentially the same reason. I'm looking forward to what this new beginning brings; I'm glad to have friends who will take part in it with me. (Don't forget to keep me accountable!)