I can't really say we were friends. It was something more than that, and yet, in a lot of ways, something far less.
We started spending time together after my sister moved away for college. That's really what I was looking for. For her to be my sister, a replacement sister. To step into the gap that had been created with Anna living four hours away and no longer in the bedroom next to mine. Someone who gave advice on everything from what sweater I should wear to how to swim in the social waters of high school, who helped me see things from the female perspective, and was just comfortable and safe to be around. She was happy to do these things, but it didn't equate to a sisterly relationship for her. Rather it was the road to intense emotional bonding that would eventually lead to something more. And in truth, that is exactly what it ended up being, not my naive expectation of something neutral.
Soon we were writing each other these intense poetry-laden (often lyrics stolen from angst-y 90's alternative rock) notes. If I read them now I'm sure I would find them laughable, but at the time they ignited a fire in my belly. They brought up these emotions somewhere between lust, curiosity, and fear. I was never quite sure if I should run towards her or get the hell out of there. And that was torment to her, me never committing to anything solid, staying in that ambiguous state.
That was all more then ten years ago now. And yet I still find myself doing the same thing.
Trying to manipulate my friendships and relationships into something that will meet my needs, and be exactly what I think it should be. Trying to suck life, comfort, love from those around me. And Ellen was trying to do the same to me, using flattery to lead me towards a deeper surrender, asking me to give things that weren't mine to give. For a while we used each other, but it was never enough, and it imploded, leaving us bitter and angry. Which lead to more angst-y notes passed in hallways en route to math class.
I take comfort in the words below. Nothing else has ever proven to be true. I know these words to be life giving as I've experienced the slow change of self-pleasing sin habits being burned up, and God breathed truth embedding itself in me.
1 John 3:18-24
My dear children, let's not just talk about love; let's practice real love. This is the only way we'll know we're living truly, living in God's reality. It's also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
And friends, once that's taken care of and we're no longer accusing or condemning ourselves, we're bold and free before God! We're able to stretch our hands out and receive what we asked for because we're doing what he said, doing what pleases him. Again, this is God's command: to believe in his personally named Son, Jesus Christ. He told us to love each other, in line with the original command. As we keep his commands, we live deeply and surely in him, and he lives in us. And this is how we experience his deep and abiding presence in us: by the Spirit he gave us.