I stood on the back porch of our small gray bungalow on the street corner of Alexander and Johnson Street, wondering if my twin friends thought I looked any different. Our family had just returned from a year-long sabbatical to Argentina and they were one of my first visitors since arriving home. After being apart for the entirety of our third grade year, they were now tan from swimming at the pool all summer and their blue eyes danced with excitement. We stood exchanging chit-chat while our moms stood nearby catching up. This was when email… text… even long-distance calls were difficult. We had relied on snail mail for our communication… and it would take months sometimes to arrive in Venado Tuerto from the States.
“There’s two new girls that are gonna be in our class this year!” Sarah told me, her face lit up. New people were rare to our small town… so anyone new, was exciting and usually immediately popular. You must realize, I had grown up with 28 of basically the same kids in my class since I was in preschool.
“They’re both from California…” Abbie whispered. And to those of us kids who were born and raised in Nebraska? California was an exotic place… full of Disneyland, Hollywood, surfing and beaches.
Those two California girls were seated at the same table with me that first week in 4th grade. Over the next couple of months, I found myself becoming friends with both of them: one with beach-blond locks and a carefree attitude and another with dark hair, dark eyes and a sweetness I had never seen.
But I remember the exact moment I chose to be disloyal to one of them. With all the change of moving back home, realizing that friend loyalties had changed in a year, and moving into the 4th grade (with all its new responsibilities), I made the choice to distance myself from the sweetest girl I’ve ever met. In a mad scramble to stay in the “Cool Girl Group”, I gossiped about that sweet girl and ignored her for the rest of the year. Maybe the next 4 years.
How awful was my heart in those moments? I am acutely aware at how insecure, powerless, and out of control I was: that lanky, skinny girl with green eyes and hair she’d spent an entire year worrying over as she grew out her bangs.
And in my desperate attempt to fit in- I alienated myself from a sweet and lovely girl who continued to show me grace and love, even when I did not.
Had my adult-self been able to sit that terrified 4th grade girl down and have a conversation, I wonder how much different my life would have been. Because that dark haired, sweet girl? She became one of my best friends in high school, once I decided I no longer needed to fit in, but began opening my eyes to the people Jesus led me to.
C’mon. You’ve been there.
In that moment, when you make the choice to abandon all loyalty to something or someone and pick something new. It could be as simple as a skincare line, brand of chips or deciding to attend a different church. But, you cannot deny at least at some point, you’ve been disloyal.. to someone… or something.
Now, it could be that at some point, these things are not worthy of our loyalty. I mean, a chip brand… really? Unless, your grandpa used to work for them, or it’s your family’s company, I get it. But, when we choose to be disloyal to things that truly matter, we can lose out on a crazy amount of good. And I’m not talking about chip brands here. I’m talking about deciding to walk away from a person. A family. A job. A church. A responsibility. A calling. You name it. When it comes to relationships of any kind, disloyalty does no service for you.
It may seem to temporarily fix the problem. You can go YEARS without noticing any hurt or angst for yourself personally. But, it will catch up. Just like it did my freshman summer, when I looked around, and realized that there was one person who had consistently been kind to me. A sweet, dark-haired girl who continued to reach out and ask me to hang out to watch a movie or go shopping. I had missed out on years of friendship with this girl. Thankfully, we have the type of friendship that I can call her at the drop of a hat, and we pick up right where we left off.
The Connection of Faith and Loyalty
“So, what’s the problem with disloyalty, Meg?” you may be asking. I mean, we do live in a culture where we are constantly bombarded with the next best thing. I am guilty of not being loyal to skincare lines. I give them a month, tops. If I’m not seeing results or the cost is crazy high, I move on to something else.
When the thoughts began forming in my mind regarding disloyalty, I looked up synonyms on it. Because, surely, there’s a cooler word than disloyalty that I can use to title this thing with- right?
The words that stared back at me hit me like a ton of bricks.
Ouch. Disloyalty is similar or the same as these words? And when I went to scripture to see where disloyalty was mentioned… it wasn’t much better.
They would not be like their ancestors- a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
If we look closer at this verse, there is so much wisdom to be found. Notice how loyalty and faithfulness are almost succinct with each other. And the behavior that accompanies that disloyalty and unfaithfulness? Stubbornness and rebelliousness. If we pretend to have faithfulness to our God, but then choose to be disloyal to relationships around us? What does that make us?
Because when it comes to relationships, disloyalty does more harm than good. Disloyalty halts your ability to grow or mature. You will never have to look that person in the eye and own up to your portion of the problem. You won’t have to ask for forgiveness or allow the offender try to apologize to you. When you choose disloyalty, you are choosing to alienate yourself from a possible relationship. And in a world where we are so disconnected, especially now, why would we choose that? Why choose loyalty when disloyalty is so much easier?
Why? Because loyalty means staying with it, no matter how hard… how dire it seems… no matter how frustrating. But what do you gain? Commitment. Deepened appreciation. Thankfulness. And trust begins to build. (More on that to come…)
Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
Here’s that thing about love and relationships again… and its pretty intense. Now, maybe your brain is going in circles with all I’m trying to connect for you. I mean, asking for you to lay down your life for your friends? Yep. Intense.
But here’s the real predicament.
How can you learn forgiveness, if you choose to walk away from every relationship the minute that they show their imperfections? How can you learn to give grace to those we come in contact with, if we avoid every possible chance of conflict?
When it comes to disloyalty, we may be missing out on a grander plan. There may be things that we are not maturing in. Could it be that if we were to choose loyalty to those relationships… that job… that responsibility… that church… that family… that we may gain so much more?
We can never fully mature if we cannot truly love others, forgive and give grace to those we live life with on a daily basis.
So, how do we push past disloyalty and move into loyalty?
It’s pretty simple actually. Just choose to be loyal. Stick with it. Push through. It comes down to endurance and patience. Now, that may sound simple… but it’s far from easy. Choosing loyalty means you may have to get some abuse from those who don’t understand loyalty. It means that instead of looking out for you, you’re looking out for others. It means that you may have a tougher life while you navigate awkward conversations and begin to look conflict square in the eye.
But the reward of loyalty? It could mean you will find:
- a friend for life
- a safe place within your family to rest in
- a relationship that stands the test of time and hardship
- a job that you can grow and learn in
- a church family that will stand beside you in love, no matter what
- a calling that leads you to unimaginable joy
On top of that, you may find:
- commitment in your marriage
- true appreciation in your workplace
- genuine thankfulness from your family and friends
- others who trust you
I mean, if these things don’t excite you… then don’t choose loyalty. It’s as simple as that.
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