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More Than: Kayla of MMAT

April 7, 2010

kayla nad me at lcmOh my stars. I am so excited to be writing a blog for THS. I LIKE to think of myself as both writer and blogger, but I’m certainly not up to Heather’s level, so I’m honored to be able to share MY thoughts with her wonderful readers!
[note from Heather: I am blushing. lies, I tell you, lies! Meet my friend Kayla as she shares that Healthy Living is MORE THAN nutrition & fitness – it’s about taking responsibility of our relationships! ]

 

I’ve loved being able to follow Heather on her journey towards healthy living. It’s definitely an inspiration; it makes me want to improve things in my own life! However, since a lot of it her journey has been about, you know, the physical aspects of being healthy – the running, the food choices, etc. – I’ve felt a little out of place reading over all these things. I wouldn’t say I’m unhealthy in terms of those things, but I could definitely stand to better some things. That being said, I’ve been super psyched about this More Than series.

Relationships encompass a major part of our lives. Whether romantic, platonic, familial, whatever – relationships are a huge priority in my life, and I really feel that they should be in everyone’s life. Many people think that perhaps school or a career should come first, or just yourself and your hobbies and whatnot. But, the fact is that we are humans, and we were created to be relational. We were made this way. Made to love and communicate and care for one another. And if something is wrong in the relationships of your life, if something is unhealthy, it’s going to affect you.

Without really realizing it until recently, this is something I’ve been working on for quite a while. I’ve been striving to maintain honesty, realness, and open communication with everyone I interact with. This obviously gets a little uncomfortable and at times maybe scary or painful. And it’s difficult because, clearly, it’s not possible to like everyone you meet or to be on good terms with every person in your life 100% of the time.

There are certain things you can do to help. Some things may be more suited to certain people than others, and really, I don’t know that I could specifically advocate or advise particular methods.  I can’t tell you certain measures you can take. But I can share things that I’ve done and hope that those spark your own ideas for you.

kayla friends

One of my biggest triumphs in the relationship arena has taken the form of mending broken friendships from my past. This involves betrayal and long-held grudges, on both my side of the fence as well as the other side (where the other people in these situations reside.) These particular situations embody a certain degree of awkwardness, as often, a significant amount of time without speaking has passed.

During middle and high school, I had a friend. I’ll call her Amy. Amy and I were part of this little group of, well, outcasts, for lack of a better term. We were the “nerds”, the ones that just didn’t quite fit in.  Amy was special even within our group. Even as a 12 year old girl, she had a plethora of attributes that most people despise. She was judgmental, argumentative, stubborn, and often just plain rude. She fit the bill of a “nerd” with everything from her clothing choices to her glasses to her love of school and being right in all things. But we took her in because when you’re in that situation, you sort of have to band together.

kaylabestfriends
[Amy is not in this photo, but these girls are bonded together.]

As we grew older and everyone gravitated towards other groups of people, activities, and interests, we still stuck together for the most part. At this point, Amy was only around because the rest of us felt sorry for her. That is, we were pretty much just pretending to be friends with her because we knew no one else would. (We also DID know that she actually had some good qualities; it was just rare for her to let those shine through.) On several occasions we had to defend her and our “friendship” with her to others that asked how we could possibly stand her. Poor Amy. We were never sure how much she knew about what other people said about her… oh, the drama of high school.

At a couple different points in time, I or someone else would actually try to point out Amy’s faults – not in a cruel way, mind you, but just in attempts to make her realize that she couldn’t act the way she did and treat people the way she did and expect people to like her. Granted, one of her both good and bad qualities was that she didn’t care at all what other people thought of her – but unfortunately it’s difficult to get by in the world when you’re THAT disagreeable. Hah.

The climax, I suppose you might call it, of everything took place during our freshman year of college. Since most of us were spread out at different colleges, we were able to, well, sort of avoid contact with Amy.  In October though, a number of us had returned home to watch our high school band at marching competition. Somehow Amy had communicated to us that she would be there too and that we should find each other and sit together…

Readers, my friends and I were terrible. We turned off our phones (using the excuse that we were at band competition) so that we could claim we didn’t get her calls. We sat in the middle of a big group of people so that we’d be hard to find. And the couple times that we walked around to get food or whatever, we kept an eye out for her, and ducked out of sight if we came across her. We were AWFUL. However, as we were leaving, she caught us… and it was evident that she had figured out what we had been doing.

She was pretty hurt, and understandably so, but in typical Amy fashion, she was more furious than hurt, and she made that pretty clear. Over the next few months, she cut off communication with all of us – you know, de-friended us on Facebook, deleted our phone numbers and we heard through other friends back home about the awful things she was saying about us, the names she called us. On the one hand, we deserved it, but on the other, “two wrongs don’t make a right,” correct? And we had put up with Amy for years.

After several months, I found this situation to be weighing pretty heavily on my heart. None of my other friends seemed concerned – they were still bitter about everything Amy had “put us through” over the years. I, however, knew that this grudge was creating a terrible burden. I knew that regardless of what Amy had done to us, we were still just as much in the wrong as she was.

One day I sent her a message. I tried to be honest but not accusatory. I tried to be as sincere as I could, but left out things that were really better left unsaid. I knew that even if Amy didn’t respond, this was going to help me. The fact that I had reached out and tried would relieve me of some, if not all, of my guilt.

Blessedly, Amy DID reply. She took little responsibility of her part in everything, but I didn’t really expect her to, and getting HER to apologize was not the point of my message; the point was for ME to apologize, for ME to come clean. And Amy accepted my apologies fairly graciously. We both understood that we would never have any semblance of the friendship that we once had, especially since not all of that was true to begin with. But we were both willing to try to fix things, to at least be civil.

At present, I am still the only one of our group that has mended things with Amy. We actually talk pretty regularly on the internet. She’s changed a lot.  I’m different, too. I’m different in that I’m more patient, and I can see the beauty in her. I can see why God loves her, and that makes it easier for me to do so.

Amy was the first in a small string of these situations including another old friend from high school that DIDN’T respond to my attempts at contact, an ex-roommate with whom I’m now on good terms, a friend of my boyfriend with whom I just had a misunderstanding.

kaylas awesome

 

With each of these people, with each reconciliation, I have felt SO much better, as if I could suddenly breathe much more fully. There is so much less hate and bad feeling in my life when I take care of these things, so many burdens lifted; each time I have one less thing weighing me down, one less thing to worry about in this crazy life. And because of this, I know my stress level is lower than it would be, than it used to be for sure, which definitely makes me a happier, healthier, stronger person. And that makes my relationships stronger as well!

Although most people appreciate honesty, it’s not always possible for people to completely reconcile their differences, at least, maybe not WITH one another. But we should still try to work through these issues ourselves, with God’s help if you’re into that sort of thing.

I want to close with a related quote from Mr. Donald Miller’s blog that I found recently:

“When we stay bitter, we don’t grow, and we don’t help the people around us. What God wants to do with our pain is turn it into ministry, into an empathy that will heal others. Some of the darkest seasons in your life may turn into a gift for somebody else. And if we are willing to allow our pain and hardship to be used to help others, our pain is given dignity.

I’m often asked if I could, would I change my life so that my father would have stayed around. That’s a difficult question to answer, honestly. Were it not for the pain in my life, I wouldn’t have started The Mentoring Project, and potentially millions of young men would not be provided a positive male role model. I believe in a God who can take our pain, heal it, and use the empathy to spread light rather than darkness. So in short, I do not wish for anything in my life to have been changed, no matter how hard.

…so my question is, what does God want to do with your pain? Is it a blessing or a curse? My prayer is that it would move from the former to the latter, and you would become a wounded healer.

What pain in your life does God want to use to help others?”

Life’s too short to hold grudges, folks. And there’s already too much pain in this world… we need cherish our relationships, and show people that we love them, even when they hurt us, and we need to own up when we hurt others. Let it go & be free.

 kayla gorgeous

You can read more about Heather’s friend Kayla by visiting her blog, her tmblr, or by following her twitter feed. Seriously, check out Kayla’s about me.  She is pretty darn awesome.

Heather laughs especially loud when reading (and rereading) this post, nodding along in agreement while reading this post,  and gets a tear in her eye when reading this post.  And because Heather is a blogger and therefore vein, she is more than happy to provide the inspiration for these posts.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 8, 2010 1:28 pm

    I can relate to a lot of what you’ve said here, KayJay. I definitely agree that relationships are the basis of being human because, yes, we are social beings and without contact with others, then who exactly are we?

    Great post; I enjoyed reading it.

    And, Heather, I’ve enjoyed browsing the rest of your blog as well – it’s pretty good stuff. I’m especially a fan of the More Than series. Keep up the good work.

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