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When I was growing up, I remember how it would make my stomach hurt if I felt rejection of any sort. Maybe someone didn’t want to be my partner on a project, or sit beside me on the bus, maybe they were after my boyfriend, or maybe they just didn’t like me.

My Mama would always tell me, “Not everyone is your friend, Dee.” Somehow or another, I always thought they were though. I trusted everyone, even if they weren’t trustworthy. Daddy used to say I’d invite Charles Manson in for supper. I guess I would have.

I’ve grown a little more discerning in my old age, but I’m still learning that not everyone is my friend.

I’ve lost people I thought were my friends when I was at the lowest points of my life. People unfriended me on Facebook when I got divorced. They avoided talking to me in Walmart. Maybe they were angry at me, or maybe they just didn’t know what to say. It took a while, but then I realized those people aren’t the ones I’m meant to do life with. If they had been, they would have stayed.

One person I considered very close to me explained that my life was just too hard for her to handle. To be honest, although it hurt me deeply at the time, I completely understood it and appreciated her honesty. I mean, shoot fire, if I could have gotten away from the nightmare I was living, I would have done it, too! I’ve never once held it against her. She wasn’t able to be part of my inner circle anymore. If she had been, she would have stayed.

What later came as a complete surprise to me was that I lost friends when times were good! There are those who can’t handle other people’s joys, as strange as that sounds. Some folks are unable to be glad you have a successful career, a happy relationship, healthy children, a nice house or car  . . . fill in the blank with whatever you have that someone else doesn’t. If they were happy for me, they would have stayed.

If falling on hard times makes you lose what you thought were close friends, and if coming into a season of blessing makes you lose some too, then here is my conclusion:

Those aren’t your people.

It’s hard to accept, but you’d do best not to chase after those who aren’t your people. It will only end up causing you pain.

You might be thinking, “If they aren’t my people, then WHO ARE?!?!” And do you wonder if anyone considers you THEIR people?

I’ve wondered the same thing. After lots of prayer, grief, and soul searching, I’ve come up with an easy formula to figure that out. It’s based on one rarely noticed verse in the Bible. Romans 12:15 says,

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.

This simple verse will show you who your people are!! It will also show YOU how to be the person others want to be close to as well. It’s been said many times, to have a friend, you must be a friend. 

This verse means those who care the most about you, will BE THERE, no matter what is going on. During the good times and the bad. It means that’s what you’re supposed to do for them as well.

Being there doesn’t mean you know know how to fix it — some things can’t be fixed. It means you don’t run away when hard times come. Real friends will let you cry when your heart is broken and full of sorrow. They will be happy when you get a promotion at work. You won’t have to worry if they’ll stay or not — they will.

Your people will stick by you when the bad times come — and bad times will come.

Your people will pitch a tent and sit down beside you when you’re alone.

Your people will let you vent when you just need to talk. Or leave you alone when you don’t.

But also:

Your people will be happy for you when you’re on the mountaintop.

Your people will rejoice when you come into good fortune, even if you get something they want but don’t have.

Your people want you to succeed — they want you to shine.

It doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to do with the rest of the people you know. They are casual friends, even acquaintances. They belong on the fringes of your life. You say hello from time to time. Comment on their Facebook posts, like their pictures on Instagram. Maybe meet up with them for a fun night every now and then.

But they aren’t the ones you go to when you need a helping hand, or the ones you share great news with as soon as you hear it. They certainly shouldn’t be the ones you share your deepest secrets and your open heart with.

I’ve got some folks who walked beside me during the worst times of my life, and those same people are happy when I receive a blessing. They’re the ones I ask to pray for me when I’m in deep need. And I KNOW they do it. We might not see each other very often, but I know they’re still there if I need them. They know I’ll move heaven and earth to be there for them as well, day or night.

It isn’t that I have never disagreed with them. We’ve had fusses and fights, some of them even heated and seemed irreparable. But true friends will come back around because you love each other, even if you take a little break for a while. They are my people.

Accept this fact: The world is full of folks who won’t appreciate your personality, your gifts, your shortcomings or your blessings. You’re not everyone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay.

Finding your people means YOU being THEIR people, too. It means you giving to them what they give to you. It’s not too late to be the friend you want to have. You’ll be blessed if you do.

We were never meant to do life alone. There are plenty enough human beings to go around, so find your people. Do you rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep? If you do, then your people are out there, and they’re looking for you, too.