When you’re in middle school, your goal is to make acceptable friendships based on the people and things you hate. That’s because when you have no idea who you are or who you want to be, it’s easier to talk about the stuff you don’t like than it is to talk about the things you love. You don’t know what you love, but you know for dang sure what you hate.
Pokemon was really cool a while ago, but if you were still playing trading card games in sixth grade, you might as well have settled for the lame group. I had friends who were into those games after the Pokemon fad ended, but I never got into them. I had just spent the past three years of my life collecting hundreds of cards. I even fell on my face and chipped my teeth for those little pieces of valuable card stock. I wasn’t about to force myself to start back at square one with something new. Besides, Spongebob was so much easier to watch.
But I ended up trying to flaunt my resentment toward these new card game fads in an effort to win the appreciation of the big names in middle school that really mattered. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes I was still too fat and unfashionable for anyone to give a crap enough to see how awesome I really was for hating all the right things.
I found myself in a situation this past summer in which I grew secretly resentful toward someone who I felt was smarter, funnier, more talented, and better with teens than I was. We really were friends, but I always held back my true feelings: I was just waiting for him to screw up so I could come in, pick up the pieces, and save the day for everyone. I confessed these feelings to another friend and he gave me some great words of advice: why not try to being his number one fan?
The whole time, I was just jealous of the guy not because he was better than me, but because I didn’t have my focus right on who I wanted to be. Instead of being myself, I wanted to be him. And that was a huge problem of pride.
Later in the summer, this friend of mine told me that the previous summer he was working at a place where almost all of his coworkers disliked him. And from the sound of it, it seemed like they all had the same problem I did. They didn’t like who they were and needed to find security in bringing someone else down to their level. I could imagine them gathering together — Christians — and discussing their mutual distaste for this one person who was simply living out God’s calling in his life. And I thought, Why would I want to be a part of that? Why would I want to build relationships based on hatred for someone else? Those aren’t friendships. They’re just a bunch of fig leaves blinding each other from the shame that they’re not willing to deal with.
So I cut it out. I stopped being jealous of him, stopped being his biggest enemy, and started trying to be his biggest fan. And the awesome part was he did the same for me. We actually got things done because I stopped waiting for him to mess up so I could feel better about myself and started noticing the good things God was doing through him. Because I refocused, I also started noticing more and more the things God was doing through me, and I started loving the way God was using me and my friend.