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I’ve been thinking about the deception of social media these days. No doubt, blogs, books, and a million words have been written about this already, but I couldn’t resist adding my two cents worth…after all, that’s why I blog a bit!

I read a lengthy post on facebook by a friend today – she was lamenting her loneliness, her longing for a best friend,  the circumstances which kept her from bringing people into her home, and her hurt feelings over all the fun that seemed to be happening in the world without her. It got me started thinking about all I’ve learned in the past few years about friendship. I realize that she may read this – I hope it helps her.

I understand about loneliness. I was raised in a lonely place, with few friends… I didn’t have a close friend my age for years – not until I was well into my 20s.  I moved from a remote place with few opportunities for frienship to an area with many, many more opportunities. I’ve learned that a place with more people can be more lonely. But the most important lesson I have learned is that it is what I make it.

Facebook is a lie. The newsfeed looks like the society page in a Victorian newspaper. Everyone is somewhere doing something fun. Except you. You are at home, on facebook, wishing you were somewhere fun. But the truth is that you do fun things. Most people do as many fun things as they can fit in their life. Most people do about the same amount of fun things. Just looking at everyone’s life at once makes it look so overwhelmingly fun, and the contrast created by all the collective fun makes yours look lonelier.  

But those people have work days, have mundane days, have bad days,  have Mondays just like the rest of the world. But they rarely post about those things…because who wants to read about being stuck in traffic again or someone’s really bad day (unless it’s funny)? So, we only see (in most cases) the collective good, not the collective bad. Otherwise facebook would be overwhelmingly depressive!( Maybe it would make us feel better about our day if everyone posted the reality of their bad days!) So, the constant newsfeed of fun is a deception. It is not a true representation of everyone’s lives. It’s only a tiny snapshot of one  good moment. So, if you’re having a day when you’re feeling  a little down, feeling solitary, or needing a friend, don’t turn to facebook. It will make you feel worse. Turn to a real person. Call someone you haven’t done something with in a while, and see if they’d like to have lunch. Or just chat on the phone a little while. Or do something nice for someone else – nothing will make you feel better than turning your focus outward.

Next, a word about best friends. Most of  us long for a best friend (although there are a few personality types that seem to not need them)…Henry Adams said, “One friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, three are hardly possible.”  Soooo true!  One of the favorite lessons I  have learned is that life is cyclical. You will go through cycles with friends. There are so many people that I have been close to over the years that I am not close to now…many people come into your life for a season. Very few are going to be around for the duration! Geography, life changes, personal changes – these all affect our friendships! I have learned to be very grateful in the moment for friends – and not to cling too tightly to them – or take it for granted that we will always be close! I treasure the memories I have with all those I have been close to…I have moments of nostalgia when I remember the comfort of those friendships…but I cannot turn the clock back or change the circumstances that cause us to not be close today…it’s just life! I nurture my friendships and don’t let them go lightly. It saddens me when I see a friendship going through a change, but in most cases, I am powerless to change the forces at work. I am totally grateful for the friendships that have remained strong through the years – but I could probably count them on one hand….

Another word: don’t put all your friendship eggs into one basket. I realize that we are busy people and we don’t have tons of time, but make sure you nurture people. Not just one person. Hedge your friendship bets. Trust me – if you are that needy, you may be overwhelming for an unsuspecting potential friend.

 I feel like these epiphanies took me a while. Well into my 30s, to be honest. Which brings me to another point. If you are living far away from your family, one of the biggest mistakes you can make is to expect someone to fill that void. That is an unfair burden to place on someone who already has their own family. If serendipity brings someone into your life that you feel that close to, that is a tremendous blessing – but don’t turn that blessing into an expectation. Things may change! ( see above paragraph) When I learned to stop expecting people to be family to me, I was able to really nurture some friendships that have turned into an almost-family relationship. But I would never demand that from them…which brings me to my next point…

You must be a friend. You must take responsibility for  your own loneliness. If you want to go for lunch with friends, call someone. Otherwise, you may grow old waiting for the phone to ring (besides, no one really wants to go to lunch with an Eyore). If you want to go shopping, make some calls and take someone shopping. BE THE FRIEND. Take the initiative. I read once that there are 2 kinds of people – hosts and guests. If you want to have friends, learn to be the host. You don’t have to open your home if circumstances are not favorable, but you can invite friends to go for coffee, shopping, lunch, dinner, anywhere! There are times when you don’t feel like taking the initiative, but it’s what you may have to do if you want to have some friends. Staying at home and moping will not get you any friends. Get out there. Invite. There have been many times when I’ve invited someone to do something, and they have never reciprocated. That’s okay. That’s the chance you take. Some people are not hosts, remember? Some people already have very complete social circles and may not be looking for new friends. Make a few attempts, and move on to someone else. You’ll strike gold eventually! Many people are not meant to be anything more than acquaintances in your life.

Remember not to judge a book by its cover. One of the best friends I have ever had (and I hope she reads this) was someone whom I looked at and thought, “There’s no chance she needs a friend. She seems to live the life of a social butterfly.”  It has been one of the most cherished friendships of my life, and all because I took a chance and started to cultivate it even though it looked as though it wouldn’t get off the ground. I have learned to pray, “God, bring into my life the people You want me to be close to….show me whom to approach…help me not to get caught up in my idea of who looks like they might be the right friend for me…”

These revelations have been transformational. I don’t know if just reading these will be enough. You have to really REALIZE and BELIEVE them yourself….but if you can, it will change your life for the better. You will still have lonely moments. It’s the human condition, right? My family is still 800-3000 miles away. I still have days when I’m lonely for that kind of companionship. We all have days when we feel a little blue and everything looks bleak, including our social calendar. But those days just need to be weathered. The next day will be better. Be the friend. It works, I promise. And stop believing the facebook lie that everyone’s friendships are better than yours!

 

Sacrifice

Been thinking about sacrifice a lot these days. I work on an obstetrical unit, and see a lot of new moms and babies. While I don’t want to come across as judgmental, what I see far too often worries me greatly. Many of these new moms are so focused on themselves that they cannot make the earliest sacrifices for the new child they have brought into the world…sacrifices like just holding it when it wants to be held, or feeding it when it needs/wants to be fed. Most won’t make it through the first day of breastfeeding – the discomfort, the work of learning, all these things require too much of them, and they refuse to make the sacrifices necessary…what kind of a future will these kids have?

When you are a wife and mother, most days, you are making constant sacrifices… giving up what what you would like to do for what needs to be done. I walked into a patient’s room tonight, an older lady, who had brought two books to the hospital for her stay that would be less than twenty-four hours. We got to talking about reading, and she asked if I liked to read. “Yes,” I replied, very wistfully, “but I don’t have the time for it right now.” Fact is, I do have a book in my bag, but it’s one my daughter wants to read, and I need to read it to approve it for her…even the book I brought to read is a sacrifice of my oh-so-precious and rare reading time.

I would love to go to a Christian concert in our area two nights from now. But I don’t have great options for babysitting, and right now with root canals for the daughter, tuition, and homeschooling books to pay for, the splurge is just more than I can justify….another sacrifice.

School starts in a few weeks, and I’ll be honest, I’m dreading it a little. I thoroughly enjoy homeschooling my children, but the pace is frantic with a baby, homeschooling, church, and work. I love having a bit of time during the summer to  spend time with the kids and accomplish some housework without having 17 other demands on every second. Not sure what can be done about it – the only answer is the passage of time.

The point is, I’ve realized that I’m in the years of sacrifice. My sleep, my time, my body, my money – these things are all up for grabs. And there are multiple hands grabbing….. yet would I trade it? Nope.

The way I see it, it’s just a phase. I refuse to mourn the loss of these things…they will all come back to me in time. One day I will have time to read, full nights of sleep, and ready money.  But I won’t mourn the changes that bring me those things when they come, either…..

For what is my alternative? Great nights sleep means no sweet baby babbling in his crib early in the morning, or no sleepy boy coming to me with his bad dreams. Time to read means no kids to read to anymore, no books to approve to ensure that my teenage daughter’s mind is filled with mostly good things…for someone my age to have the time to do all the things they would like to do – that means they have no PEOPLE demanding their time.

So, I’m enjoying it….and on the days that feel a little more sacrificial than is comfortable, I try to relish the small pleasures – a good cup of coffee, a few quiet moments at work to look at photos of places I’d like to go one day, while realizing that putting in my years of sacrifice now will pay off in great rewards in the years to come…and the pastimes I anticipate having more time to enjoy will feel more rich for the waiting…

unnamed

Big Daddy Weave – Love Come to Life

Ok. This is one of the best albums ever. I can’t get sick of it. I’ve tried. It’s really worth listening to over and over again.

The Only Name(Yours Will Be) (words and lyrics by Benji Cowart)  is my newest anthem.

Back again?

Took what was a long sabbatical from the blog – probably had to do something with a pregnancy which seemed to drive every thought from my head. Baby is now just about one year old, and lately I’ve been thinking, “I should write a blog post about that!” So, think I’ll try my hand at it again. Bear with me – I may be more than a little rusty…

Toxic Baby

http://www.ted.com/talks/tyrone_hayes_penelope_jagessar_chaffer_the_toxic_baby.html

Watched this talk on TED.com the other day. This has implications on so many levels… I’m not going to rattle on endlessly about all the things I was thinking about as I watched this talk, I’m just going to tell you to watch it and think about it. Needless to say, my baby will be drinking from BPA-free bottles and sippy cups.

Had a conversation about friendship with two friends a while back. We spoke about it some, and then wrote a little more back and forth on facebook. This was several months ago, and I’ve found myself thinking about that interchange quite a lot lately. The gist of the conversation was something to this effect: To be happy with the role of friends in your life, you should always keep your expectations low. That way, you deal very little with disappointment, and friendships remain intact with little maintenance. If you expect nothing from your friends, you cannot be hurt when they disappoint you…in whatever area your increased expectations lie….

I see the point that was made. I have, upon numerous occasions, set myself up for disappointment with unrealistic expectations. For example, expecting a friend to take the place of family members is usually an unrealistic expectation for it is your family who has you on their heart and mind more regularly than one who has their own family to think of and plan for.

However, inherent in the word “friend” are expectations. Some words come  already loaded with expectations. In a mutual, true friendship, I have expectations. I expect that we will be in touch on a reasonably regular basis. This doesn’t mean that time passing without contact will destroy the friendship, but that we will be missed during long periods apart, and it will be as though that time never happened when we are once again in contact.

I expect that we will, to the best of our human ability, be there for each other when support is needed. This will sometimes mean dropping what we are doing to come to the aid of a friend….or putting aside our plans to be there in varying instances of need.

I expect that honesty will be at the heart of the relationship when it really counts. This doesn’t mean that it is brutal, but that it is kind when it is needed and might hurt. If I ask the opinion of a true friend, I expect the truth. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t want it.  You respect the opinion of a true friend enough to care about what they have to say.

Inherent in the word friend is the belief that we will enjoy and seek out opportunities to do things together from time to time.

If these things are not the case, then the person falls into the category of “acquaintance” rather than “friend.” There may be people who imagine more or less in a friendship, but these are the expectations that I have.

I have to say that there have been many times in my life when there was no one around who fit this bill.  Henry Adams said “To have one friend in a lifetime is much, two are many, three are hardly possible.”

If you have a friend like this in your life, don’t take it for granted! Enjoy the oasis in your life that a true friend brings…..

in love?

A little local drama has inspired a lot of thinking about that “in love” feeling. Someone walked away from a marriage, claiming that they weren’t in love anymore. I have a feeling that said person really has no idea what love is.

Sure, the “in love” feeling that comes for an initial time period at the beginning of a relationship is a lot of fun. It brings a rush of adrenaline like little else can. I can see why people get a bit addicted to it, so when it simmers down in their current relationship, they head out to find it again, thinking that the existing relationship is washed up. They could not be more wrong!

They lose the depth that comes with longevity of a relationship. My husband and I have been married over twelve years. We had all the twitterpated feelings you would expect – more perhaps as they were elongated by a twenty-two month long distance courtship. But the truth is, I would NEVER trade our relationship now for what we had back then.  In fact, you know how smug newlyweds are because they think that no one has ever been in love as much as they are? Looking at it from the view of twelve years of excellent marriage, they seem almost comical! They have no idea how good it’s going to get! Talk to happily married people and see if they want what they have now, or those initial feelings….

I’ve been thinking that a person who constantly seeks out an “in love” feeling also cannot be in a deep relationship with the Lord. If you were in a relationship with the Lord that has gone beyond initial feelings to a deeper trust and intimacy, you would understand that since our relationship with the Lord is compared to a marriage, a deeper level of intimacy, trust, and enjoyment should be achieved and continue to grow. The “feelings” with the Lord will come and go. As in a marriage, sometimes you don’t feel.  But you know, that deep down, that relationship is strong. Growing. It sustains you. You can’t imagine life with out it.

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