Tribes, Shelves & Magnifying Glasses
By Brin Young
This post is reprinted with permission from the personal blog of one of our amazing summer interns, Brin Young.
I believe that one of the worst feelings in the world loneliness. However, the catch about most feelings is that there are different ways they present themselves. Today my youngest brother came to find our mom because he was lonely. He wasn’t actually home alone, but he needed mom because she is the person who makes him feel especially loved and important. Moms are good at that. It’s common to be lonely even in a group of people because you don’t know them very well or your best friends aren’t there. Another kind of loneliness is the feeling when you are actually alone and you wish you could hang out with someone. You have friends but maybe you’ve been busy and haven’t seen them in awhile or they’re away. That isn’t fun. However, it seems the worst kind of loneliness can be described as homelessness. Homeless is usually used to describe a person who doesn’t have a physical home but the word homeless is also accurate when describing someone without a tribe.
The word tribe represents a group of people who support you, love you, and are always there for you. They lift you up when you’re down and create an environment where you can be yourself. Everyone needs a tribe and homelessness perfectly depicts the feeling of when you’ve lost your tribe or haven’t found one yet. When that group of people who had your back grows apart and moves on, it’s like losing your home. Where do you go now? Then comes the hardest thing. Finding a new tribe. For me specifically, it is incredibly hard to make new friends. I don’t want to bother anyone or jump into someone else’s group of friends. I don’t want to force myself on someone. I fall into the lie that tells me if someone isn’t seeking me out, they don’t want to spend time with me. This creates an endless loop because most people are hearing the same lie. Everyone is afraid to make the first move. This mentality causes us to miss out on what could’ve been an amazing friendship. This is something that I need to work on. When you find yourself in a place of homelessness, it’s easy to get used to it. You get comfortable in the new normal and mourn what you lost but what can you do about it? No one really wants to be your friend anyways. So get comfy, right? Wrong! There’s nothing worse than isolating yourself further. When friends grow apart (which is pretty common at my age) it can actually be a great opportunity. Of course it isn’t great when you lose touch with people you care about but it creates space to make new friends who may challenge you and help you grow in totally new ways! Or, the friends you lost maybe weren’t the best people to have in your life at the time. Like God often does, He can take a hard situation and create beauty.
This year, God gifted me incredible opportunities to grow in my faith and in my relationships. It has taken me awhile to realize it and of course, I spent more time mourning what I lost than trusting God. I needed a wake-up call that I’m not alone and though I may have lost my central tribe there are still people all around me who care about me so much. I’ve made new friends, grown closer to others, and also realized how positively this change has affected my life. It’s given me perspective. First of all, now I see the other tribeless teenagers wandering around my school in need of a friend. Before, I probably wouldn’t have thought about it. Also, I now have more confidence in making friends and initiating growth in my current relationships because I realize everyone else is scared to make the first move too. Lastly and maybe most importantly, spending a little time “lost” made me see the people who I unintentionally saw as side characters in my story. The saddest part is that these people saw me as someone incredibly important in their life. Most of us have been on the other side of that and it hurts. Someone can be so important to you but they don’t exchange the feeling. It’s sad because those “side characters” in your life are often the very people who you end up needing the most. As easy as it is to put another person in the role of side character in your life, it’s even easier to put God there. It’s incredibly easy to focus on yourself now that you’re alone and forget that you’re never actually alone. Putting God on the shelf doesn’t take much but taking Him off takes seemingly impossible focus.
That brings us to where I’m at right now. I feel like I’ve spent the last while in an awkward balance of running straight into Gods arms one day, then putting him on the shelf the next and that has created a dangerous spiral. Taking back control as soon as things get dicey is a habit of mine that so far, hasn’t worked out well. It’s obviously a struggle for everyone to give God control of our lives (not that we have much control in the first place), that’s human nature. But this year as my life felt more out of control, it became harder to let go of my grip. God has his way of intervening and I’m trying to grow and learn from my experiences this year. I’m very thankful for all the friends that I’ve lost touch with, the friends I have now, and the friends I’m making. It took me awhile but I’ve realized I have an amazing tribe! My parents, friends from school, my cousin, people from the church, and a few friends who are far away physically but close to my heart. Losing friends is a part of growing up. Moving away from Saskatchewan was hard since I lost touch with several of my childhood friends. This year was difficult as my friends grew apart and chose different paths. Through all the changes, God has always been there as my number one tribe member, even when I put Him on the shelf.
I’m not actually sure where I originally planned to go with this blog post, but it’s taken me down a totally different path. Whatever I write usually comes from the heart and it never ceases to surprise me! It’s the times where I’m not doing much that I can really sit down and reflect. This blog has given me space to think in writing which I find much easier than thinking out loud or even in my head. I’m thankful for the people who have encouraged me while working on this blog and I’m so excited for where it’s taking me! This post has turned into a little bit of a magnifying glass into my heart and mind right now which I don’t think was my intention but I’m glad it went there. I want to work on focusing less on myself and more on God and the people in my life who are all so incredibly important. Summer is such a great gift since it gives me so much time to use my gifts, connect with people, and grow. I pray Jesus keeps reminding me that I have a great love to share with all the tribeless teens out there who need a friend.