Tag Archives: relationships

Those Things We Call Friendships

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“I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest of courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but rather the solidest things we know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We toss the word “friendship” around loosely these days and in doing so we’ve cheapened it’s meaning. A lot of what we call friendships are merely connections.

Connections are those people whom you say you’ll get together with…and you do…six months later. They’re the people you probably won’t hear from unless you reach out to them or bump into them around town. Most of what they know about your life comes from Facebook and Instagram, and when someone asks them about you they’re response will likely be centered around what you do for a living.

Connections aren’t bad but I’m learning it’s dangerous to call them friendships. 

Friendships are those people for whom you rearrange your calendar. They’re the ones who text or call just to share a funny or exciting story from their day. They’re the ones you text or call for the same reasons. They’re the ones who give you a hard time if they find out about a significant life event of yours on social media before hearing it from you directly, the ones who know the details of your life that are too sacred for social media. When someone asks them about you, they proudly share details about who you are and what you mean to them, not just what you do.

Friendships are hard to find. And they’re not so much waiting to be found as they are waiting to be built. 

As I get older, I become more convinced that true friendships are relationships almost as sacred as a marriage and almost as hard to come by. Now, I’m not married and it’s a different kind of intimacy, but I know that any true relationship requires vulnerability and vulnerability in any context is hard work.

With the wisdom of hindsight, I realize that many relationships I thought were friendships were merely connections. Again, those connections aren’t bad but believing they were friendships left me failing to understand the value of actual friendships. Oftentimes, while I enjoyed the company of those connections, I felt like something was missing. That missing feeling left me hesitant to place too much value on friendship at all.

As my understanding of what friendship truly is deepens, I can honestly say that I have some of the first true friendships of my life now at the age of 29. Some of those friendships are a few years old now, and the older a friendship gets the more valuable and treasured it becomes. I can also say that for the first time in my life I understand the responsibility and gift of being a friend to others. It is not a role to be taken lightly.

I agreed to meet a couple of friends for lunch. We had discussed a 12pm-ish meeting time so I left my apartment accordingly. Halfway to the destination I received a text that is was going to be 12:30. Okay, I’ll go to the nearby park and knock out some emails on my phone. 12:30 came and went. 12:45 rolled around and one friend said she was almost there. So, I headed to the restaurant. Fifteen minutes later that friend actually showed up. And the other friend another 10 minutes after that. Can I tell you I was upset? I was not a happy camper and my friend could tell. She straight up told me I was unpleasant and almost cancelled lunch because of it. In the moment that made me more upset. But, we pushed through it and lunch was more than enjoyable.

As ugly as those interactions seem in the moment, in hindsight they are some of the most treasured & beautiful because they are moments when friendship is handled with the roughest of courage. In those moments we are reminded that true friends are safe, and that we are loved not in spite of our flaws but as our whole selves – flaws and all.

Oh how I treasure those relationships that I can treat with the roughest of courage. Even when I think the ground has been shaken, my friends quickly show me that our friendship is rock solid. It is grace and love in the flesh.

And Guest

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I pulled the invitation out of the mailbox and I immediately had that “I don’t like how this feels” feeling in my gut.

“…and guest”

The site of those two little words immediately made my heart sink just a little.

Last they knew I was dating someone…seriously enough that I was posting pictures on Facebook…which was the only reason they knew because I don’t talk to my family often let alone about my dating life. But they knew about him and they were insistent he come with me on my next visit. In July. For the wedding.

The invitation has arrived. But he is no longer in my life. And no one has filled his spot. When I saw the words “and guest” I immediately felt the shame and pain of that void. The sadness of the loss came rushing back.

And not just shame. But the difficult admission to myself that I really want someone to be in his place. I want a name to put in the guest line. Not having a name to put there is lonely. Isolating. It can cause me to feel like I’m not enough if I’m not careful.

Six months ago…for that matter six days ago…I would never have let myself seriously consider posting a blog that had anything to do with relationships. But, here’s to living life a little more vulnerably & letting go of trying to control people’s perceptions of me.

It’s amazing the flood of feelings & thoughts that can be started by two little words, isn’t it? But I’m learning to pay attention to those little feelings & thoughts because I’m beginning to think my truest self lives in those gut instinct reactions, the ones I all too often miss.

The Power of Your Words

I have a calendar titled “To Be Remembered” for those days, moments, experiences, & conversations that mark me. Those that have forever shaped my life & little perspective on this big world. 

March 4th is one of the days marked on that calendar. It was 2010. I was on my first trip to Nashville for a gathering of the Visual Worship Tribe. Quite honestly it feels like a lifetime ago though I can still remember it vividly –  the people, the place that would become my church home, and one conversation in particular. 

That day (my now friend) Paul spoke words that I will never forget, ones that forever changed the course of my journey.

“You don’t have joy for the ministry that you’re doing right now,” he said. Something like that isn’t easy to hear. It’s even harder to hear coming from a stranger. But I didn’t hear Paul in that moment, I heard God shouting at me. (I’d been trying to ignore him for quite some time.) And I’m forever grateful to Paul for obediently saying what his heart told him to say in that moment even if it was uncomfortable.

Moral of the story? Never underestimate the power of what you say. When your gut tells you to say something, say it! If someone is heavy on your heart, reach out to them. Your words may mark a day someone will never forget. 

 

When Your Soul Wakes Up

Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place. – Zora Neale Hurston 

It’s true. Love really does make your soul come out of hiding. In the last 12 months I have known love of different sorts – friendly love, romantic love…even the unexplainable love of strangers. As I read this quote tonight, it put words to the season I’m in – my soul has come out of hiding.

And can I tell you? It’s an equally frightening & exhilarating place to be? The threat of hurt looms around every corner. A broken heart is one vulnerable moment away. But the freedom of being known is waiting on the other side of an honest confession. The opportunity for connection a conversation away.

No one told me that my soul waking up would be so painful at times. Or, as a friend tweeted the other day, “no one told me that getting my heart back would hurt so much.”

Love wakes us up in a way that not much can. LOVE was what woke us up at the beginning of time, so it’s no wonder, is it? But, when we wake up…when our soul crawls timidly out of its hiding place in the darkness of fear & shame into the light of love, acceptance, & freedom, it’s a shock to our system. It will hurt. But I also have to believe that, if I see it through, I will discover a life unlike any I’ve known before.

 

Here’s to You, My Friends

I love my friend Sarah for a lot of reasons but especially because, in her words, she’s “on the look out for extraordinary relationships in a sometimes too ordinary world.” She wrote a post the other day with a fun opportunity to join in on a Great Big Friendship Blog. I decided to take the opportunity to brag on my friends because I don’t do it enough.

I’m bending the rules because I can’t pick just one. So, my friends, here’s to you…

To my “friend family” as I call them: Luke, Stephen, Nick, Christian, Angee, & Ariel. When I call them family I mean it with every bit of me. There aren’t 6 other people in the world with whom I can be more myself & rest with. Our worlds were connected long before we knew it & I love the story of how we all became a “group.” They are my favorite people to sit around a fire discussing life with & around a table laughing with as we play Phase 10. And when we’re scattered across the country as work has us on the road, 2 hours group text conversations keep us together. Ask me about any of them & an instant smile will spread across my face, I just can’t help it. :)

To Emily, one of my longest friends. We met as freshmen in college volunteering together at a youth program at church. I’ll be completely honest, we butted heads for a long time. I was the “responsible get it done by the book” person & she was the “carefree, it’ll all work out, just have fun with the kids” person. But something changed after we graduated & she moved across the world to China. She’s now one of my dearest friends & I appreciate that she has known me through so many seasons of life & seen me at my worst much more than most. She has endured a month of traveling in China with me & and our friendship has survived different time zones, countries, & states. Emily is one of my favorite people to do nothing with…simply be…because she values that & it makes me value it when I’m with her.

To Matt, another one of my long friends. I’ve known Matt since we were enemies as freshmen in high school. We quite literally had yelling matches & said very unkind things to each other. I don’t quite remember how we ended up becoming friends, but we did. My favorite memories are Sunday nights regularly spent eating pie at Perkins & blonde highlights at home gone bad. He’s the one friend I always make a point to visit when I’m back in Minnesota. He too has seen me at my worst much more than most & I appreciate that about him…honestly I’ve probably had to apologize more to him than most people :) There is something valuable about people who can reflect for you the changes you’ve been through & the ways in which you’ve grown.

To J & Carl, and the rest of the crew that gathers on Sunday nights, who love better than perhaps anyone I’ve ever met. Truly, the way they love people challenges me. They’re some of my newer friends, but I love them still the same. It’s been incredible to watch the community that organically grows around them simply because they live who they are & they aren’t afraid to climb into the mud with people.

The list of friends I would love to brag about could go on for days. They are the most diverse, craziest cast of characters I could’ve never dreamed up. And when I stop to think about the people whose paths I’ve been blessed to cross I’m quickly overwhelmed with the deepest gratitude because they are grace with skin, they make God’s love tangible in ways I could never imagine. And maybe, at the end of the day, that’s what friendship is ultimately about: a way for us to understand just how much God loves us…for us to see ourselves, through our friends’ eyes, as He does.

Join the fun & tell us about a friend who has helped to make you who you are. 

Resolve to Live a Life You Can Be Proud Of

From the very first post I ever wrote about Nashville, to deciding to take a giant leap into the unknown just a couple months later,  this city has been home.

When I say the day I moved to Nashville is more of a reason to celebrate than my birthday I truly mean that…I don’t care how cliche it sounds. That move was the start of truly living for me. It was completely unexpected but has truly transformed me more than any other event in my life.

I have found healing …both physically & in my heart.
I’ve discovered the intersection of justice & community.
I’ve learned to live life in all of its messy layers.
I’ve learned what it is to savor life in relationship.
I’m learning what it means to embrace the beautiful mystery of tension.
I’ve learned to sit in the space in between rather than being distracted by the next thing.
I’ve learned to love more deeply from the community of people I get to live life with.

This city has wooed me. And celebrating two years here today is just as incredible & unreal as celebrating one year was. When I look back on my story of my life I see how He has connected all of the dots…how everything that seemed random to me belonged in His plan.

When I stop to think about life over the last two years it is so full my heart is overwhelmed. By His goodness. His plans. His provision. The community He has surrounded me with. It is a story I never even imagined or dreamed, and for that I am grateful beyond words. Sometimes He asks us to go simply so we can find life…so we can come alive. All we have to do is respond.

So if you feel like you’re going through the motions, like you’ve lost the person God created you to be; if you’re frustrated with what is & feel like He’s given you a dream for what could be, take a step out of the boat, live in a place where miracles are necessary, & trust that He wants you to do more than survive. Resolve to embrace every bit of the risk & vulnerability of failing & bring hurt by love in order to live fully awake to the joy of life.