Q: My friend dumped me. I want another best friend, but I’m still mad—and scared of getting hurt again.
A: When I was in middle school, the popular kids isolated me for a mistake I’d made and then admitted to. This was so hard for many reasons, but the biggest was that they’d been my friends. Also, I’d been honest about my mistake, but others in the group didn’t admit the role they’d played. Yet I was the one everyone turned on.
For the rest of the year, I wasn’t invited to parties and no one wanted to talk to me. I ate lunch with the school counselor so I didn’t have to sit by myself in the cafeteria. I was tortured by thoughts of why my former friends didn’t like me enough to forgive me. My friends were my everything, so when they dropped me, it felt like I had nothing.
After that, it seemed easier to pretend I didn’t need anyone or anything. I thought I would feel better by not feeling, so I put a wall around my heart. And yet, I struggled with this because having friends made me feel good—complete. So when I finally did let someone in, and then they betrayed me or were mean to me, the hurt felt a hundred times worse.
I didn’t grow up practicing Christian Science. But after I learned about it, I really tried to pray about being so hurt by friendships. Even as an adult, I still felt bad about these past relationships. However, once I knew that praying in the present could help with things from the past, I began to work on forgiving those friends and letting go of the hurt.
After my friends dropped me, I thought I would feel better by not feeling, so I put a wall around my heart.
A passage that helped me was something in the Bible that Jesus said: “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces” (Matthew 7:6, New King James Version).
I’d never really liked this passage because it seemed so violent. Yet it also felt like what I’d experienced: I would give a friend my time and love, and then they’d step all over me. But as I prayed about the spiritual meaning of this passage, as I was learning to do in Christian Science, I had a revelation. I realized that Jesus never mentions hating those who act in a dog-like or pig-like way. He was reminding us to be wise in what we share and to be careful about giving to those who don’t appreciate the good we have to give. But even if we do give our pearls and they get trampled, we can walk away without hate or resentment.
After praying this way about many relationships from my teen years, I felt more of God’s love for both me and those friends—and the mental replay of those incidents finally stopped.
I don’t have to cut myself off from feeling too much, because God has given me enough love to share and the wisdom to share it in the right way.
Sometimes our hearts do suffer hurts that seem unbearable. But I’ve learned that these moments can actually urge us toward a deeper, more spiritual understanding of what love really is. I’ve also learned that real love comes from God, divine Love. So if I really want to know how to love, then I need Love to be central. I need to let Love direct my thoughts and actions and show me what my relationships should look like. I can do this by listening in prayer for God’s guidance. And I can also let God show me which friendships really are for me, fearlessly moving away from ones that don’t feel productive, healthy, or balanced. Staying close to divine Love means that I don’t have to feel a big loss if led to walk away from an unhealthy relationship, because Love is already there filling that space.
I find that I’m happier when I put God first, instead of worrying about other people’s opinions or trying to make others happy just to get them to like me. And I also find that when I make God a priority, my “pearls,” or my good thoughts and good qualities, are protected, because I’m letting God guide me in sharing them with others.
Now I know that I don’t have to cut myself off from feeling too much, because God has given me enough love to share with everyone and the wisdom to share it in the right way. I feel so free, knowing that each of us can love without walls around our hearts—and that when we do, we can still feel safe.