26 February 2012

Multitude Monday - 1000 Gifts ~ High Fidelity for Friendships

Last week, Ann posted a powerful piece about friendship and I've been thinking and praying about it ever since.

Probably most of us have had a similar experience with a "Mare Griebe:" the friend we never dreamed we could lose because of so much history - a long line of shared special together moments - sometimes broken by stretches of time, but always picking up again where we left off.

And so life continues along, we enter a stretch of time that seems more broken, wider, longer. A season of busyness distracts. Somehow, we forget. We get lazy or we make a bad choice. We end up causing her to feel taken for granted, neglected, betrayed... She's wounded, deeply hurt... and then she's gone. 

Looking back at our actions (or lack of action), we think we discover the very reason we now live with that sad, empty place of nothing but memories. And it is good to first point the finger in, to self-examine, while asking the Lord if we did not love, serve, share or give as He would have had us love, serve, share or give. That, of course, must be followed up with seeking forgiveness and restoration, where possible.

In her post Ann shares four recommendations, ideas to mold self into a better friend. They are investments, if you will, to helpfully prevent friendship breakdowns:
  • People are the priority - a mantra at our house is people are more important than things, be those things a toy that is in high demand or a schedule that makes high demands;
  • Live maskless - transparent lives lead to authentic, real relationships;
  • Speak life - share true words that edify, and when those good words might be painful ones, share them gently and with huge doses of love, grace and mercy; and
  • Get together - relationships hinge on time gifted, words shared....
It is very, very good advice.

But it takes two to tango, or so the saying goes.

So... What about those relationship times when you feel more like "Mare?" When you are the friend waiting... needing... wanting... hoping for... expecting... community? But instead you feel neglected, lonely, pushed away, forgotten, unimportant? It hurts - deeply.

Myself? I tend to wonder what I've done, but I'm afraid to ask. I'm always still shocked when it seems someone wants to be my friend - and deep down, always wonder, "Is this too good to last?" So it doesn't take much to convince myself that yet one more friendship is dwindling into something that no longer really is... or more bluntly, dying. Sorrow blossoms into bitterness which easily festers... finally anger and then? Nothing. To protect from that sort of hurt, any feelings and most effort risking continued nourishing of that friendship are slowly suffocated. Or abrubtly and totally switched off - more like an execution. And the deeper, longer, more intense or dear the friendship, the more powerful and most unchanging, absolutely unflinching that response can be.

Everyone feels like "Mare" from time to time. I've been there more times than I care to count over the years and I've found it to be an enormous struggle for me in this missionary life.

Consider family and friends back home and the frantic pace of life in the West? People don't often write - snail mails or emails... or call... or message... or Skype... as often as would fill my encouraging-words-are-my-love-language cup. Sometimes, I don't even know what circumstances are keeping that someone so busy that special heart to heart contacts are few and far between... and so I can't understand the voiceless void that ranges from irritating to heart-wrenching. Sometimes the problem is beyond anyone's control - phones don't work, internet connection crashes for weeks on end, serious illness takes over... yet even with understanding the cause, the hurt is still just as real, just as painful.

What about my friends and friends-like-family here, those who live this same life? Those I know should understand? They certainly wouldn't allow life - ministry, busyness, preoccupation with family or others far away, imminent change and transition - to interfere with relationships, would they? Our pace of life does tend to be slower... we should have more time... However, I've slowly come to a revelation: having such expections of another (no matter what side of the water they are found) is not only unrealistic, it is unfair to those I'm counting on to shoulder it.

I do so want to nurture those friendships God has gifted to me. I need to keep in mind the wise counsel from that blog post that started this whole train of prayerful thought. But I've also been deeply convicted that in those times when I feel like "Mare," I'm just as responsible to nurture and maintain a precious relationship. I'm wrong... I sin... if I decide to give up on another because of my hurt feelings or wounded pride, and I choose to crack or even shatter community.

I'd add the following to that list of "4 ways to be a better friend:"
  • Liberate -from my expectations, permitting others to be my friend, their way;
  • Be the first - to forgive both real and perceived offenses, offering always mercy and grace; and
  • Have a hospitable heart - willing to entertain and open (or re-open) the door to both new and continuing friendships, even after hurt has entered.
this week's gratitude list:
(#1940 - 1971)

hard lessons, reluctantly learned and tearfully lived - leading me to lean on the One I can trust with my hopes and expectations

dear friends, on both side of the ocean

letters from home

Tim-made chicken soup on an evening when I really wasn't feeling so well

listening to excited girlies chat for a few minutes with Uncle Chris

5 bamboo poles - now we only need one more

window repairs

kitchen sink faucet working once again

sharing raspberry tea with hubby before heading to work

strawberry shortcake & a small dollop of whipping creme for breakfast

sound sleep

colds that stay colds and don't grow into something worse

little by little, inch by inch progress on a piddley project

being pushed into practicing what I preach

Sunday confirmation of truths the Spirit has been impressing on my heart throughout the week

girl going maniac and finishing much laundry

upcoming outreach trip for teens

much Mexican food, laughter... even though back and feet were so tired afterwards

anticipation as I've now waited over a week for that crazy movie to download

praying for guidance... and being given patience to gently wait instead of answers

finding my friend at church for the first time in many months

holding little Mariama this morning - and her hands went directly to my face, cupping my cheeks (it is always fun when my pale skin isn't frightening to a little one)

Bible study anticipation - after needing to cancel two weeks ago

helping a scared, sad boy transition from fears and tears to snuggles, smiles and giggles

hearing Colossians 3:12-14 quoted and rediscovering all over again why I love those verses so very much

making a hard decision... knowing it was the right one... knowing that my counsel came from God alone...

fervent praying for so many hurting here in this land - this part of the world

teenage smiles

good news, a much needed miracle, in another Niger city

another who identifies with Dr. Quinn... finding that TV series encouraging...

looking forward to seeing what others post on this Multitude Monday


  1. Thanks for sharing this. I often think of my friends who are not as close as I'd like - as close as we used to be - and I always have to wonder, was it them that drifted away, or was it me? I regularly joke that I'm terrible for returning emails and phone calls, but deep down, I know it's not a joke, it's true, and I almost hate myself for acting, or rather not acting - for behaving in such an inconsiderate way. Parhaps I can use these suggestions to improve.

    1. glad you found it encouraging... thankful for the many years of friendship you've shared with us... first my guy and then both of us. we love you!


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