Issue: As a Christian I feel like I always have to have my act together and never have any problems, but when I hide my problems from others they know I am not being "real" with them. How can I be "real" and still be a Christian?
Insight: This is a question that plagues many Christians so do not feel alone in this. We as Christians often get this preconceived notion that we need to be perfect. God actually calls us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15-16; Leviticus 11:44-45) which doesn't mean perfect, it means set apart. God wants us to live lives that are different than those around us. He knows we are prone to sin. He knows what we are capable of. I believe that it is us who expect perfection from others.
I was at a retreat and the speaker said that God is never disappointed in us. In order for someone to be disappointed would mean that they had an expectation that we could not meet. God has no expectations of us, because he already knows every thought that we are going to think and every decision we are going to make. God, has no expectations, he just knows the outcome. What if we were to be more like God in this matter. Even though we do not know the future, what if we just stopped expecting things from people.
In the last week, God has shown me that I have a problem with expecting too much from others. The result is that I am disappointed in myself and them, and they feel bad for not meeting my high expectations. This week I tried something new. I trusted God and threw my expectations out the window. I had an amazing week. People did things that were so far beyond what I ever would have expected them to do, because they were free to be all that they could be without the thought of possibly disappointing me weighing them down. It also freed me in another way, when things did not go well, I did not have to deal with disappointment as well as the situation. I was able to keep a level head and coasted through until the situation was ironed out. I also found that when people did things that were unusual, I just trusted that God was in control of everything and the end result was everything worked out well.
I believe that if we trust God, and allow Him to be in control of every single aspect of our lives (not easy), then we are free from expecting others to fulfill what we should be trusting God for. God will make sure every need we have is met, the question is do we trust Him enough to believe He will do it? Do we trust Him enough to give control over to Him?
Back to the issue, do not try to be someone you are not. Be all that God has created you to be. Don't try to be perfect, strive to be authentic. Christianity is not about being perfect; it is about believing in God and trusting Him with our lives. Instead of focusing on what others think about you, pray and ask God what He thinks about you. He may tell you through His still small voice, He may lead you to Scripture that reveals it to you, or He may just send another Christian to share with you God's heart on that matter. God always answers, just not always in the way we expect Him to.
Insight: It is really difficult when people move away. We make strong connections with people and then they are gone. One thing to think about is that just because someone has moved away does not mean they have stopped being your friend. With the technology that we have today, you should be able to keep in contact with your friends even if you do not get the chance to see them as often.
Another thing to consider, is if you are involved in events with other people, like soccer, dance, church, etc. then you could make some new friends in these groups, you might be surprised at how many great friendships you can make when you have something in common.
Also, if you find that people are not friendly towards you, then you need to consider why they are not. Could it be that you are scared to make new friends because they might leave too? If you are too scared to become friends with new people because other people have moved away, then you may never get to experience true friendship again. What an unfortunate circumstance that would be. I have had friends that have moved away and sometimes we lose touch and others are still close. Do not be scared, not everyone moves away.
Could you be thinking that your lack of friends is some fault in yourself? This is really negative thinking. People respond to the way you present yourself. If you do not think well of yourself others will pick up on that and tend to lean in that direction. If you have confidence and believe in yourself, you will find that others will have an easier time believing in you as well.
Could you be so focused on your situation, you may be missing opportunities to reach out to people around you? Sometimes in life we focus so much on our problems we miss the things that are happening around us each day. Watch for opportunities to help people. Kindness goes a long way in making new friends. How do you respond when people are nice to you? I know that when people are kind to me I want to get to know them better.
The best thing for you to remember is be yourself. People tend to draw away from people who seem phony. Be open to new friendships, you never know your new best friend may be just around the next corner.
Issue: I feel overwhelmed all of the time. Other people seem to be able to handle the amount of work I need to get done and yet I constantly feel overwhelmed.
Insight: I myself have had times in my life when I have felt overwhelmed. I find that talking about it helps me see what exactly is causing me to feel overwhelmed and I can address it. I also try to delegate tasks that I can, for the tasks I can't delegate, I then prioritize them. I think about what is the most urgent of the things on my plate and I do them in order of urgency. Once I get some of the more urgent items off my plate it is much easier to bear the rest of it. I have also found that prayer can help in these times of feeling overwhelmed. God can give us the strength to deal with everything we need to and he can give us the wisdom to prioritize well.
Lastly, comparing yourself to others is taking your focus off what needs to be done and causes added anxiety where there doesn't need to be any. Place your focus on God and the tasks before you and you will find less anxiety. We are all unique with unique gifts, so trying to compare ourselves to others is like comparing apples to oranges, there is just no comparison.
Issue: I am not looking forward to Valentine's Day, since I will be facing it alone again. I find that every year I dread February more and more.
Insight: We all have people in our lives that we love. Why not focus on these people on Valentine's Day. Take a sibling or parent out to dinner. Go out to a movie with a friend. I look at Valentine's Day as a day to show how much you love the people in your life. It doesn't even have to be a material gift, just give someone a call, or a note of encouragement. Little things mean a lot more than you may realize.
Another thing you could do is spend that time focused on God's love for you and how much He loves you. Once you take the focus off of your relationship status and focus on those you love, I am sure you will find Valentine's Day more enjoyable. If you start to enjoy Valentine's Day, then next year February may be a month to look forward to instead of the month to dread.
I strive to help others by being a safe place for others to ask questions and pose issues they face.