The following was a draft I had saved with the date of February 22nd, 2012. Almost a year later and I’ll finally finish and post it…
“Expendable”… an adjective that has stuck with me from a conversation my sister and I had last year. An adjective that brings feelings I try to avoid and not think about though. I heard her use this word to describe how she was feeling. It broke and still breaks my heart. I hadn’t ever really thought of using this one-word description of when someone feels tossed aside, easily replaced (dispensable), abandoned, or of little value to another person. Could be my writing-nature, but I always tend to use long descriptions and multiple variations of adjectives instead of simple straight-to-the-point terms. Yet, this one word adjective summed it all up and I knew exactly what she was feeling. I can empathize deeply, though I cannot fully grasp what was occurring in her heart at that time.
I’ve actually had this topic on my heart on various occasions. Lately it’s a particularly sore area of my heart. Though the word “expendable” was not what I had in mind at the time – it now sums up the feelings perfectly. I’m hoping I can articulate it how I want/need to, but words are so limited. I am personally feeling especially “expendable” lately, so things are a bit raw. We’ve all felt like expendables in one way or another and in varying degrees. Mine is somewhat friendship related, but there are so many relationships where one can feel expendable – with a parent, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, sibling, child, co-workers, etc. Just general feeling of worthlessness or as if no one even cares. It’s painful and a natural human response to given situations.
There are days during times like these where I feel okay, but then the days hit where I wake up and can hardly contain my pain. I break down crying in those moments asking myself or the Lord “why?!” or “how?!” in reference to my circumstances and feelings. I try to make sense of it all. I cannot understand why I feel this way, but it still just hits hard and there are those days I can’t seem to contain it no matter how irrational I know it is. In these times, I cannot comprehend why people can so easily toss aside another human and move on without any seeming display of sadness or guilt of what they left behind. I don’t know how someone can just replace relationships or memories without a second thought or just pretend like nothing ever happened or like they never knew you. Are these all perceptions or are they reality? Perceptions, of course… but in those emotional moments, they truly feel like reality.
Do people toss others aside and actually move on without sadness or guilt? Perhaps a few do, but I believe more often than not, humans do feel the sadness of how they’ve treated another because we’ve each been created by our Father with a heart and soul and we were created in His image. Something scary happens when we stop having the remorse or try to hide/avoid it because I believe this can dull or numb the heart/soul. We start to grieve the Holy Spirit and block Him out so we don’t have to “feel”. It’s a really frightening thing then because we’ll wake up years from now wondering who we are, in misery, and alone. And it’s a harder struggle to get back to “feeling” unless the Lord really breaks you, but that’s dog-gone painful too and we avoid that situation like the plague if we can. We’re certainly capable of ignoring feelings and blackening our hearts through that process.
Another struggle comes when the person who did the mistreatment feels helpless themselves or unable to muster the courage to face that other person again because they know they caused the hurt/pain. In our “expendable” feelings, we humans tend to lean toward callousing the wound so we can avoid the pain… so then if that person ultimately humbles themselves to come back and apologize, the recipient of the apology has then become hard and ends up then mistreating the former. Because somewhere in our human nature, we don’t trust that it’s genuine or think ‘they deserve it for what they did to me!’… it’s a vicious cycle we’re all familiar with but rarely do anything about. It’s a cycle I don’t think any of us want, but we still so often struggle with. Each person in the situation does the numb/harden/pride approach, so both can be guilty and stained. Feeling “expendable” is not justified when it hardens you. So how do we get out of such a cycle? I’ll try to elaborate on my feelings about it a little later…
For some reason, the theme song for me during times when I’m feeling expendable is I Will Remember You by Sarah McLachlan. Not sure what the story was with that, likely it just lyrically verbalizes how I’m feeling, so it’s easy to listen to. Surprisingly, when I listen to it the Lord actually uses that song to help soften my heart. My perspective slowly (oh so slowly sometimes) starts shifting from myself and my pain into observing others around me and how I am still called to value/love people. After going through these “expendable” feelings, I start becoming more keenly aware of how expendable a lot of people truly feel and I notice the toll it takes (or has taken) on their lives. You can see it in their faces or in their eyes. It is painful to observe but you often feel a little helpless yourself to do anything about it. Yet these observations humble me deeply and I slowly begin to turn from feeling expendable myself.
Instead, I begin to remember the more important things that Jesus has taught me. I then begin wanting to remember everyone I’ve ever come in contact with. I want to remember and hold dear each person who played a part in my life, even if it is never reciprocated. It hits me deeply that it was/is good for me to feel expendable in that regard, so that it can fuel me to value every person and life – so that I can personally not toss people aside no matter what. Through my selfish pain, the Lord still teaches me what true unconditional love is and looks like. He also is now teaching me how to stop feeling “expendable”, by recognizing His value and love for me. Do I do this and have I arrived yet? HA, far from it… but I always want to turn to Him so He can teach me how to live and love His way with His image in me (not the Brittney way/image).
So back to my feelings on how we get out of this cycle… it’s actually extremely difficult and something I’m still trying to grasp and understand. A cycle in something like this is actually broken and double-sided. So what happens if only one person is willing to put an end to the cycle, but the other is not? I still don’t know what to tell you if this happens. We have to recognize that we cannot control what the other person will do or how/if the will respond. That is probably the harder thing for me to swallow personally, so I’m not saying it’s easy. The Lord is personal and cares about your own relationship with Him, so He’s concerned with your individual soul, heart, and spirit. Regardless of how the other person is or may respond, we have to be obedient to what the Lord says. And He has a lot to say about things like this so go to Him in prayer and read His word (check out chapters like Matthew 18, Ephesians 5, and 1 Peter 2… the bible is full of things to learn from about circumstances like these). Ask Him about things like pride, humility, mercy, forgiveness, love, relationships, and then remember what Jesus did on the Cross for each of us… follow Christ’s example. Also, if you are the one feeling expendable – remember that your value lies in Jesus and know that you are not forgotten or rejected, regardless of how you may currently feel:
Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows. – Luke 12:7
The Lord continues to make me new in this area and teaches me. Each day I struggle and fight my human nature, but I know I’m not alone in the fight or even in the struggle. I want to daily fight for and value the strangers, friendships and other relationships that God puts in my life.
I will remember you and love you, by the grace and love God gives me – regardless of if you remember me.