Friday, February 15, 2008

The Friendships We Long For

Mu is taking me out for lunch today. It's an early birthday gift. We're going to an Italian restaurant known for its delicious food and warm environment. It'll be so good to see her- because it's been almost two weeks since we've last had a get together. Oh, we've talked by phone and in person, but it's always better face to face, and especially with a delectable food-ish or coffee aroma wafting under our noses as we talk. And talk.

In a couple weeks, I'm going to be teaching a workshop at Church on one of my favorite subjects: Friendship. I have not always felt like this was a subject I've done well with. It's only been the last ten years of my life that I took a high road into the terrain of heavenly friendships. I'm not the Friendship Expert, mind you, but I have learned a lot in the last decade about what makes a healthy friendship, what are the characteristics of a good friend, and how do I find and make a friend when I'm starting from scratch.

Everyone is talking about Friendship, lately- or at least trying to depict what it is. Chick Lit has sprung up as a whole new genre, describing the urban, sizzling adventures of polished, professional women. Recent new T.V. shows have groups of women- high powered executives- sharing the details of their lives with each other and looking like they have a tight friendship. But I don't know- something smells fishy in a lot of these story lines. For one thing, what is in vogue, now, are women who look promising, powerful and professional. That leaves out over half of American women! (Not that many of us aren't promising- but few of us lead that high powered a life, that glitzy and Gucci a life where money is no object, children are attended by Nannies, and wearing the latest designer delight is your hallmark).

Most women I know- who would be candidates for friendship- wear baby's drool on their shoulders or have lines on their faces from the wear and tear of mothering, they wear slip on flat shoes (lest they throw their back out from wearing high heels!), and they wear a pair of jeans and a clean shirt that is hopefully not too wrinkled or outdated. Even the professional women I know don't look all that glitzy and glamorous. Remember, a full time make-up artist, on hand, helps you achieve that look. You don't look that good- the way you see women on T.V.- without a lot of primping and painting and pfluffing and posing!

So, before we can talk about what a real friend is, what real friends are like, we've got to forget the Glitz and the Glam and get down to brass tacks. What a women wears is no indicator of how she'll be as a friend. The brand of her handbag, the color of her hair, the designer of her jeans- they can't tell us a thing about a woman's soul, really. Sometimes these things reflect her financial challenges, sometimes they reflect her lack of time spent reading fashion magazines- but they certainly don't reflect whether she has the capacity to be a true-blue friend.

As my 13 year old daughter comes home from school each day and shares the highs and lows of her day with me, I am so aware that this all-important topic of Friendship she is just learning about is going to impact her life significantly. We need to lay a good foundation here. A good friend makes you feel like you can take on a big challenge. A person who you thought was your friend and who betrays you or hurts you, can make you feel unsure of yourself, unsure of wanting to open up again. We've all heard that saying, "With friends like that, who needs enemies?!".

I would love to know how you all feel about the topic of friendship. Do you have great friendships, and have you always had them? Have you learned recently how to be a friend or make a friend? Do you struggle with this area? Did you learn about making friends from watching your mother? Has the Church been a place where you've made friends easily? Is it important, to you, to have close friendships?

Leave your comments. I'm listening. Really listening.


twinklemom said...

I'm definetely struggling with making friends because I have had "mom" friends who I had thought were good friends...known for more than a yea....or, if not longer, and then over minor, petty things, just completely turn on me, spread horrible rumors and basically hurt my sense of faith and friendship deeply to the point that I would almost feel so raw and vulnerable.

It definetely feels harder to find people who generally are interested in being a friend and who are generally interested in taking time to get to know a person and not just on a "be nice" basis...and there are a lot of times online or offline, I feel ...well...alone.

It's easy to feel very invalidated and like everyone has time for everyone but you, and I literally feel like the new girl in school trying to make friends and fit in with the "safe" cliques that are formed.

I feel as Christians we have to be careful that we don't form our own "tight knit group of cliques" since it's a bad reflection on our Christian walk, that we make time for everyone else not for the sake of being nice but to "look good"..and to be willing to take the steps needed to step out of our comfort zones and our comfortable circle of friends and geniunely reach out to people, particularly if we dont' know them as well.

There could be a hurt or lost soul who feels alone and could use a friend too and part of that is taking the initiative to be that friend and extending a hand and not just waiting for them to do that...

I think it's time like that we really have to remember that Jesus made time for EVERYONE, and not just who he really liked or feel comfortable and as someone who knows what it is like to even as an adult be on the outside looking in...It still hurts even as an adult to feel...well...not wanted or needed and it hurts more to be told "well just grow up".

It doesn't really speak well to the Christian walk when we dont' make time for others and judge them on the basis of "if it doesn't benefit us, then we're not going to try to talk to them or let them know we see them so they should just deal with it, be an adult and learn to play by themselves and leave us alone."

I kid that "even moms needs friends" but honestly, I do find, even for myself, that even moms sometimes don't stop to make that offer of friendship to other moms but often form tight knit groups that are comfortable and they like to stay in but don't take the time to draw in other moms who may need that type of friendship too.

Got a little more honest than I should have huh?'s a difficult subject for me...because it's just really difficult to make friends, particularly as a mom and trying to go to the moms groups and playgroups...the moms know each other and even after so many times saying "hi" it's hard not to get a "brushed off feeling and a feeling of "oh, just go away"...and I feel like a person only cares to know me or want to know me unless I can benefit them in some way, but besides that...I'm just better off just sitting by myself in the corner becuase no one cares or wants to talk to me..

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

I know more women will want to open up and share honestly...because you dared to. "Well done" my good friend. Thank you for the gift of your open heart that you shared with us here.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you getting to go with a friend for lunch and have "girl talk"! I pray that you are feeling much better!

Friendships have been an area that have made me feel vulnerable. In school, I didn't make friends easy. Friendships in school don't always last. You have a beautiful daughter. Share with her that friends in life will come and go, but she will always have her family.
I have a few close friends, but I have one best girlfriend that is more like a sister! I can let my hair down with her. We have shared wonderful conversations, inspirations from the Lord and heartaches and tears & laughter.
Friendships need perserverance and dedication. (I can say that b/c I use to be very shy. I didn't start to have "real" friends until my kids were much older.) You have to get out of past hurts and try again. I had to learn to get out of my comfort zone. Learn to call and check up on a new acquaintance or send a note. At first it was awkward, but over time it became a wonderful experince. I give God all the glory! Friendships have taught me about other people and their lives, but it has taught me much about myself(areas where God wants me to change & areas where He is pleased!)
Thank you,Lauren, for placing focus on Friendships! It is important to the Lord!

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your heart. i will be praying for you.

Lindsay said...

not that it really answered your question... but check out my blog today...

Thanks for writing this GREAT, thought-provoking post!!

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

Here's some key points that you made that I'd like to highlight:
1. Let your hair down! (Be yourself)
2. Get out of your comfort zone
3. Persevere!


Lindsay- Not directly answering my question is part of what makes a good friendship! :) As in-
I look horrible and I ask Mu, "How do I look?". Mu would tell me, "That Reuben sandwich looks delicious"!
You see? It's often helpful not to directly answer someone's question!!

Courtney said...

What I have found to end some of my friendships in the past is that I might disagree with them on one issue, being a minor issue or something silly, and instead of agreeing to disagree and moving on like I do, they decide I'm not friend worthy anymore. I too have a hard time finding true friends. I have recently reconnected with my old high school best friend, and it was like the last 10 years didn't exists, we were best friends again. I didn't realize until then how much I missed having a true friend. I wish they weren't so hard to find.

LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

That comes up as a common thread: that women have a hard time disagreeing with each other and letting it go at that. Maybe men don't take it so personally when someone disagrees with them?
Interesting point you brought up.

P.S. Glad you reconnected with an old friend! What a boon to your soul!

Marlo Boux said...

Ahhh friendship with other women has become more and more important to me over the years. And Amen Lauren! This 'Sex in the City' and 'Cashmere Mafia' prototype of what it means to be a woman and be a friend is far fetched for most of us...I stand up as a true friend - I don't have a lot of girlfriends but the ones I do have I am absolutely loyal to...AND my shirts are stained with drool, spit up, and sometimes breast milk *sigh* :)

I like the real nitty-gritty authentic friendships - I cherish them...for the longest time due to unhealed areas in my past I actually did not even like other women! How sad. Praise God for His healing power, Wisdom and grace to deliver me from that wretched mindset....I think women oftentimes have a hard time being friends with other women due to a root of really not liking themselves or other somehow being a woman is to be despised.

I really enjoyed 'Fight Like a Girl' by Lisa Bevere. It really helped me to embrace my womanhood and appreciate all of my womanly qualities...we are not a problem - we are a solution.


LAUREN at Faith Fuel- said...

Amen Marlo! Well said. I understand the part about, for a while, not liking other women. We often feel this way when we've been hurt in the Church as well. But we can't throw the baby out with the bath water, can we?!!

Angela @ Refresh My Soul Blog said...

Good topic. I will tell you. I do struggle with this issue too. I was one of those "mean girls" growing up because I was in a co-dependant bff relationship. No one else could be included. That was so unhealthy. I had no idea at the time. God took me away from all I knew and finding friends in a new culture was tough. I met the friends I have now at church. I prayed and asked God for friends. He provided. The friends I have were in a young marrieds Sunday School class. I am an introvert so one lady in particular said she was determined to make friends and asked me over. Soon a group of us started to get really close. They were all God-ordained friendships. At first it was exclusive (signs of co-dependency again) but God broke that in us and showed us what healthy friendships looked like. Now He has us spread out in the church with new friends that are unique to us. He does allow us to get together still from time to time and if I need anything those are the people who I can know if I call they will be there for me.

I did not see this lived out with my mom. She had friends when she worked with them or some other school moms but that is all I really saw.
Hope this helps.
Much love,