Throughout college and young adulthood I cautiously treaded on the doorstep of friendships. In retrospect, I had a much healthier perspective of friendships because of the pain I had experienced. I became comfortable with groups of friends and chose companions with similar values and principles.
Nothing had prepared me for the lonesomeness that accompanied my transition from working adult to stay-at-home-mommy. It was such a juxtaposition of emotions: pure joy of fulfilling my lifelong dream of motherhood; and the sadness of not having a close friend that was experiencing the same stage of life. Once again, it was time for me to learn some lessons about friendships. First of all, I learned that the friendship I was seeking was right there in front of me: my mom. Even though we weren't going through the same stage of life, we were experiencing life together. Who else would squeal with delight over a chenille baby beret?
The second lesson I learned was to appreciate the friendship of my husband. While he can't fulfill that innate need for female friendship, he is my best (life-long!) friend, and light of my life.
In the past few years I have developed some wonderful, deep friendships. For example, my walking buddy, E. She is the kind of friend that cares deeply without being pushy. Her laid back approach to life matches mine; we don't have to worry about unrealistic expectations. Our friendship is sprinkled with laughter; she loves my children, and I hers. We enjoy life together.We pray for and encourage each other when life gets crazy. We are REAL with each other. No pretenses. Most importantly, we guard our words. I don't have to worry if she will speak unkindly of me, or repeat something I've told her in confidence.
What makes this beautiful friendship work?
I have another friendship that, over time, has worn me out. It is very unbalanced. While I enjoy her company, I have to maintain the friendship. It was painful for me to realize that she was only willing to give me the leftovers. In a balanced friendship, phone calls are returned. Emails are enjoyed. Time and effort are given freely. It takes 2 to tango, as the saying goes.
I have learned:
1. It is very difficult to be friends with someone who is preoccupied with self.
2. Never take a friendship for granted. Any relationship that isn't nurtured, won't grow.
3. When I am spending time with a friend, my goal is to let her know that I value her and appreciate her gift of friendship to me.
4. Negativity and moodiness have no place in friendship.
5. Transparency, while scary, is vital for a relationship to blossom.
I've recently been going through some growing pains in a couple of friendships. Nothing overt, just personal stuff. Even though it hurts, this time I am approaching it with a different attitude:
I want to see what the Lord is teaching me. Not about them, but about myself. My prayer is that my eyes would be opened to the things I do that might be hurtful to others. I pray that I am not so preoccupied by my disappointment, that I miss out on the life lesson right before me.
The Friendships of Women, by Dee Breston