Sunday, April 12, 2015

Friendship: Post 1

Recently I signed up for an online Bible study on "10 Tips to Be the Friend You Wish You Had".  I have always been challenged in the area of making and keeping friends, especially when it comes to other women.  We are a complicated bunch and I have rarely had a connection with another woman that went beyond casual acquaintance.  I would like to share what I have learned in hopes that it will help someone else who possibly struggles with the same issues as I have.

"It always helps to show our imperfections and sometimes, the best way to be a friend is to scream a frantic 'HELP' and let those around us swoop into our rescue."
-Shannon Martin

Wait....what?!  I don't know about you, but that is the exact opposite of what I have been doing all my life.  I was always taught to "hide my crazy" and "act like a lady" in public.  My mother would admonish me to "be on my best behavior" when at a friend's house or out in public.  

Now-in defense of my upbringing-there is nothing wrong with being on our best behavior, and I have a beautiful, kind, God-fearing mother who loved me dearly and raised me well.  I am also not implying we should all stop teaching our children manners or expecting them to behave properly in public.  However, if this is not properly tempered with honest and open communication at home and encouragement to openly share our most intimate feelings in a safe environment as a child, it can lead to difficulty opening up to friends in adulthood.

In this age of social media and unlimited (and sometimes excessive) sharing of lives over the internet, we are often tempted to show the world our best and hide the rest.  Pictures of happy, smiling families cover marriages that are falling apart.  Check-ins and resorts and vacation spots hide families in crisis.  Again, I am not implying that we all go airing our dirty laundry on Facebook and Instagram, but I think, either inadvertently or by design, we simply want the world to see our best so we only post those things that reflect the good in our lives.

Sometimes, though, we just need help.  We need other women to come alongside us and pray for us, speak kind words to our hearts, listen to us as we crack under the immense pressure most of us face each and every day.  Sometimes we need more tangible help: financial help, child care, meals cooked, help with housework.  How can the people around us know that we may need these things when we are more concerned about putting on a pretty front than being honest about where we really are in life?

I have been blessed, in the past couple of months, to reconnect with some old friends and kindle new friendships with women from church and my community.  I pray over these friends regularly.  I ask God to strengthen the bonds that bind us together.  I pray for guidance on how I can be a better friend.  I am not afraid to be real and honest, and it has been a beautiful transformation.

The truth is, we all need help.  All of us, at some point (probably many times), will need the help of our friends.  So-take a risk, be honest, be transparent.  You may be surprised to learn that the friends you have are experiencing or have experienced the same thing you are going through.  That is God's beautiful and perfect plan!