Something I have been pondering about, praying about, and learning about (once again) is friendship. The fact is: relationships are messy. There are misunderstandings, miscommunications, different perspectives, missed moments to be open, offenses, etc. etc. etc.! The flip side is that God created us for relationship, and even amidst the constant challenges of healthfully navigating friendships, being close to people is a beautiful thing. To have the freedom to share with others, to have them share with you ... think of some of the best times you have shared with family, husbands, friends, children - would you trade them? Even though there were probably just as many tough paths that were walked as well?
Hopefully, no. Overall, I am not a person who easily opens up. I tend to process inwardly. When I am down, my initial tendency is to sequester myself away. Big groups sometimes make me feel awkward. I'm not that great at "small talk" and drawing others into conversation. I get nervous! Yet, without friendships and relationships ... I get even more down and more inwardly-focused! It becomes a downward spiral that I have to fight against.
I can think of two specific friends that I currently have, in way different time frames (college and recent) had the guts to confront me when I wasn't being the friend I should be. Who questioned me and drew me out (lovingly) in order that our relationship might be strengthened and not left to wither away. I am so grateful that they did that!
Within the past several weeks, the Lord has been reminding me to pursue my friendships. I get busy - I look at others and assume that they are "busy" too, and don't make a priority to spend time with others, especially other moms. But when I'm not in relationship with others who are in a similar time of life - or just ahead - as I am, then I start to listen to another voice, a deceiving voice that tells me I'm all alone, only I struggle with this or that, only my kids are this trying at times, and it goes on and on and on. And although my ultimate confidence has to be from Him, He gave me the other women around me to be a part of my life ... to cheer me on so I can cheer them on.
I read an article: "A Mom's Guide to Making Friends" in Parents Magazine the other day (I attempted to find the article online and couldn't for some reason ...). It re-inspired me to work harder at making time for my friendships. Some highlights:
- Find a commonality you share (i.e., children, their ages, church, hobbies, etc.) and let that get a friendship or even a conversation off to great start;
- Opt for face time rather than just email/Facebook/phone ("technology is a great added value to a friendship, but it's neither necessary nor sufficient" ... as long as you're in the same town);
- Remember that you can be great friends both with those like you, and with those who are much different. Sometimes being different eliminates competitiveness and enables women to coach each other along;
- Make maintaining friendship easy - not a chore. The author says that "Moms are great at budgeting time for everything - playdates, exercise, school, housework, even sex - but they rarely budget time for friendships". She suggests thinking of a "friendship budget" so to speak ... just making sure time for friends is included in your month - EVERY month.
We all have our priorities. And I'm not trying to add to anyone's "to do" list and make life more overwhelming than it can already seem! Just sharing what God is challenging me with. To not go the easy way for Elisa ... which is often to want to avoid relationship challenges. But that only isolates me and weakens my friendships. Which I don't want! So, I am asking Him to help me stick to a stronger resolve reach out to my friends and let our messy lives intertwine!