Friendship. That was my most hated word growing up. I was jaded on this front very early in life.

I only remember myself having three seasons of friendship. My whole life.

One. Primary 4. I became close girl pals with a wonderful girl. We were always together, even when we went to the washroom. This fantasy was short-lived when she had to go abroad to study. I lost contact with her soon after.

Two. Primary 6. I became the best of friends with a girl who was previously my worst enemy. Something shifted and we magically became best buddies. Just 2 months before PSLE, she was diagnosed with a blood disease. I visited her a couple of times. We drifted apart.

Three. Secondary 1. I met some really awesome girls. We weren’t in the same CCAs or clubs, but we gave our 100% support to one another in everything we did. But once again, one of them became really ill and had to leave school to receive treatment. The group slowly lost momentum and we parted ways.

I’m not blaming any one of these amazing friends I met along the way. They were (and are!) great people. But as time passed, I begin to lose the fervour to make new friends.

What is the point of making friends when I know they are bound to leave? To share and love so deeply – it felt like a betrayal when it ended. And so I started to shun the word friendship.

I began to distort my idea of friendship. I began to question myself. Maybe if I did a little more for my friends, they would have liked me better. Maybe if I was of a little more use to them, the friendship would have lasted longer.

I made sure I had an endless to-do list to keep me busy. I conveniently packed away all my friends into a convenient box and dumped it at the back of my mind.

I started to compare myself with my peers. When I saw people going out with their friends, I grew angry.

Friends? Ha! Who needs them?

Yet no matter how hard I tried, I could never get rid of my longing for friends. Photos of what they were doing kept floating up on Instagram. Facebook also had the cute habit of celebrating friendship anniversaries (Friendiversaries?).

I tried my best to run away from everyone. But truth be told, the passing of time had made the hole even larger.

Maybe I’m not good enough – that’s why I am a bad friend. All I do is bring misfortune to those around me. Perhaps I don’t deserve to have friends. I’m just not cut out for friendships.

I started to compare myself with my peers. When I saw people going out with their friends, I grew angry. Gradually, I isolated myself from everyone, including my family and mentors. I thought that was a safe place – so safe that no one could get to me. But that meant I couldn’t reach out to anyone if needed.

Ironically, I used extroversion as a front. A facade of self-confidence to convince others and myself that I was “alright” with being alone.

Where was God? He was there. There for me to blame for all my hurt and sadness.

If You are that mighty, take all this away from me. I thought You are all I need – so why is it that, no matter how hard I try, there is always this gaping hole in my heart?

After a good year of pointing the finger at God, I grew tired, emotionally and mentally. I got tired of being caught in this cycle. I wanted to get out of it, but didn’t know how.

God used a friend to turn things around. It a random conversation – nothing spectacular, but they were just the words I needed to hear.

She told me: No one can get you out of this cycle – only you. If you let God come in, He will definitely help you to sort out this “mess”. God is ready. But are you?

It struck me that while I had been questioning whether God was even present amid my struggles, God was seeing everything that happened, as it happened. He knew the hurts in my heart and the thoughts in my head. He’d been waiting patiently for me to be ready to listen to Him.

It broke me that I rejected and refused God. The night, I came to God on my knees and He gently said,

Come, take my hand.

I have never regretted accepting that invitation.

I won’t lie and say it’s been an easy ride. As God guided me to step out to build friendships with others, the memories of past ones – those that didn’t end so well – resurfaced. There were moments I wanted to retract back into my old shell.

Turned out that God knew the hurts in my heart and the thoughts in my head. He’d been waiting patiently for me to be ready to listen to Him.

But God was helping me to break down the walls I’d built around myself over the years. Walls built out of fear to protect myself from hurts. These walls kept me from tasting the joy of having someone to go through life’s struggles with, and the comfort of having someone to rely on.

As my heart started to heal, my focus shifted from doing what is best for myself to doing what is best for someone else. I learnt to vacate little tiny spaces in my life so others could come in. Bit by bit, God brought people into my life. I began to trust and confide in others a little more. New friendships sprung up. Some old ones were rekindled.

This courage I found to do all this was absolutely not my own, but His.

How am I now, you may ask? I have just about a gazillion friends. j/k! At least I have Jesus ^^