I used to think friendship would always look like long giggles at the foot of her bed as we played barbies and built forts. I thought it would forever include two hour conversations (every day) about boy bands and love notes passed in class. Truly, I kind of expected it to guarantee girls night out on the town and girls nights in with “Friends” reruns and Tom Cruise movies.
But friendship isn’t always like that and those things are not guaranteed. To be really honest, friendship is down right hard, and sometimes it really hurts. And that’s hard to talk about. As many times as I’ve shared belly laughs and fun adventures with a friend there is an equal amount of time I’ve cried myself to sleep because of something gone awry.
I had absolutely no intention of ever talking about this friendship-wrestle until I started reading a new book by Lisa-Jo Baker. She has put words on paper that encompass this very real, very hard, very beautiful thing called Friendship.
“Into us God breathed the desire for companionship. Into us God breathed the gift of community. Into us God breathed all the capacity for believing the best about each other, loving others more than ourselves, and making ourselves wildly vulnerable without fear of betrayal. …Because my very existence is drawn from the breath of the God, whose entire existence is a living, breathing fellowship of three. Friendship was breathed into our DNA at the very beginning.
“And fear wants to steal it back.”
Lisa-Jo goes on to say: “Friendship is terrifying because it’s the place where fears can come true”.
Those giggles turned silent when my burden became too much to share. Those forts crumbled in the wake of change. The phone stopped ringing after hurtful words were exchanged and the girls nights out are vacant on the calendar for reasons I still don’t know. I cherish every one of those happy memories from bygone days but now see friendship through tainted glasses of regret, sadness … longing.
You probably don’t have to dig far to remember the last “friendship fear” that came true. And as I sit here typing away at my key board, raw with emotion, I am wrestling with the fear of talking out loud about this. What if she reads this — will she know I’m talking about her? Or worse – what if she doesn’t read this and we keep falling apart?
Oh these fears. How they entangle me. How this longing for connection burns deep in my gut. How I grieve its loss and numb to its empty spaces. How I let its void lie to me and trip me up with new friends. And speaking of new friends, I adore them. Like for R E A L. I cannot express the life they’ve breathed into my soul. But I won’t lie… this book has broke my silence. Those fears, they’re nasty nagging liars.
The Turning Point
Wanna know how I know those little fear-nags have been bugging me, even though I have friends? Lisa-Jo nailed it on page 40 when she brought up “the worst 10 minutes of any church service”. I confess, right here, right now, that over the past 2 years (yes friends this is a recent struggle) I go get my coffee during these awkward moments between worship and announcements – especially if my husband isn’t sitting next to me. Me. The one who loves church and all things related to Bible study/women’s ministry/writing about Jesus and speaking on a platform. I AVOID THE MEET AND GREET DURING CHURCH for no other reason than fear. Oh… this book will be the death of my fears … and my comfort zone. I can feel it.
I’m gonna get bold and take you a long with me as I read this book. Over the next several weeks I’ll share what God is pulling out of the shadowed corners of my heart and the freedom I discover as He does. If you dare to come with me, comment with thoughts here or on social media and you’ll get your name entered in the hat to win a copy of Never Unfriended. (I have 2 to give away!- OOOH- and read all the way to the end of this post for a fun announcement).
The first few chapters of this book have grabbed my gut and labeled in the light what I’ve been struggling with in the dark. This dear woman got brave enough to grab a flash light and illuminated the dark corner where this friendship hurt has been hiding. Funny things start happening in the light you know. Those nagging fears get smaller.
The New Phase of Friendship
“Forgiveness is the beginning.” Lisa-Jo says. “And it’s how we find closure even in the relationships that won’t ever be completely restored to us. Because forgiveness is like a pair of tweezers picking out the shards of shrapnel embedded in our hearts and minds by people we once loved. Forgiveness removes the hurt so that we can heal. Forgiveness is the gift we give to ourselves so that we can stop bleeding and begin to grow new skin over old wounds. Forgiveness is the first step out of the dark and into the light.”
And so I begin. Forgiving the regrets and the offenses. Letting go of the unknowns and opening my heart to the soaking rains of grace.
Let’s do this friendship thing.
P.S. I shared a bit about vulnerability and connection over on MOPS International yesterday, at their Hello Dearest Blog. It’d be the greatest honor to share it with you too! Click HERE.