Adult Friendships: Better than Waffles?

Many of us spend a significant amount of our younger adult lives overcoming our childhood for a variety of reasons, while a smaller percentage must continue to strive to feel well-rounded, put together, and somewhat whole well past our 30’s. It’s sometimes difficult for those in that smaller percentage to even feel like you’re really an adult despite the number of candles on your cake when you have those moments, those days, or even sometimes those weeks where you feel small, insecure, and insignificant. Honestly, I often wonder if any adults ever really feel whole or grown up. There are some that certainly seem like it and I admire them immensely….but does everyone get these moments where they just can’t seem to figure out their role or their place in a world of people that seem to be thriving?

I have my moments certainly where I do some amazing rockstar things and feel unstoppable. Those times where I just can’t help but smiling when I think back on them because for those moments I used my God-given strengths to shine and it felt amazing. I hate that those moments feel unbalanced on the scale against the weight of doubt. Am I making the right choices in this season of my life? Am I where I am supposed to be or did I take a wrong turn somewhere? What more could I be doing that I am not doing? Do the people who seem to care about me really, genuinely care or do they just need something from me?

That last one especially plagues me.

It’s hard to be the one who chooses to be open when it’s so ridiculously hard to remain open. Safety is in closing off. Remaining guarded. Keeping a safe distance. Weighing risks. Approaching slowly. To choose to open yourself up to someone is to willing subject yourself to the highly likely risk of hurt or rejection.

I had a thought this week that sometimes my struggle seems to result from feeling like I oscillate between being a Leslie Knope and an April Ludgate (Park and Rec show for those of you who don’t know. Stop reading this and go watch it! It’s incredible).

Aside from our shared love for breakfast foods, Leslie Knope is the epitome of confidence in action, being an inspiration, and being an amazing friend.

be2de1408dda5d67c6a11ab386c933cc_waffles-friends-work-leslie-knope-waffle-meme_720-474

The thing is….Leslie is the friend everyone wants, but also the friend no one knows how to be or how to let in. She is unashamedly passionate about her friends and doesn’t hold back how she feels.

200_s

I 100% agree with her philosophy on friendship and yet she is the mirage of friendship – completely fictional! Friendships don’t really work this way do they? (especially in our 30’s and beyond, amiright?) For me, being that open comes at a very high price. I have taken this gamble before and lost big time, which makes it exponentially harder the next time to get up the nerve to take that risk again.

Which is what brings out my inner April Ludgate.

April despises small talk, all things unauthentic, and prefers animals over people.

c94aac740f2dfcd06caa063f08efe4f7

She shys away – like we all so often do – from genuine intimacy. It makes her feel uncomfortable so she closes herself off. The thing we – and I – want (genuine connection) makes us uncomfortable because I think we either question if it’s truly genuine or because we’re weighing the amount of effort and risk it may require to form the connection.

Friendship

I will be honest… The combination of past wounds and a few gasoline-drenched, burned bridges have left me wondering if the effort and risk it takes to form long-lasting genuine connections with people is even worth it. It doesn’t help at all when you remove forced social situations like high school, college, and other venues where friendships are easily forged. The older we get the harder making genuine connections with people becomes; it honestly becomes awkward and makes me feel awkward. Isn’t there a happy middle place out there between the unattainable friendship bar Leslie Knope sets and the people-hating, closed off persona of April Ludgate? Or am I the only one that can’t seem to find that middle ground?

Whatever the answer, I am thankful for the genuine connections I have been lucky to find and the depth of friendships that have come out of those connections. When forming new connections, I will continue to feel awkward and insecure as I approach the risk the openness required for those connections necessitates…. But I can handle a little insecurity, a whole lot of awkwardness, and even some hurt if it means that there’s a chance that those connections can begin to form with the people who are worth it….

tumblr_me5m8mCAD31qaedvuo10_r1_250

Love is Patient

Several weeks ago, I made a mistake. I got impatient with the way my life was. I got impatient with someone. I wanted more than I was being given and I was exhausted from being in a season of want and wait for years. I word vomited and immediately regretted it. These things happen. However, like all things of this nature, once it was “out there” I could not pull it back. It has been weighing on me ever since.

Have you ever made a mistake and said or written things that you wished you could take back? Have you ever let the ugliest parts of you be seen and it was not received very well and everything seemed irreversibly different since then? Have you ever wished for more, longed for more, dreamed of more, and felt the ache of that longing? Have you ever felt misunderstood or have you ever misunderstood someone else?

Have you ever not loved someone as well as you should?

I have been thinking so much about love lately.


I have a family that can’t seem to love each other longer than a few days.
It feels hopeless.

I have friends who I love with my entire being and who love me back right where I am for exactly who I am.
It is beautiful and precious.

I have a husband who I try to love so very well, but because we live together I
often make mistakes or say things I wish I could take back.
Thankfully, he makes mistakes too and we both try to be intentional about
forgiving each other every single time, no matter what.

I have friends with completely different love languages than me.
It is a struggle to remember that others give and receive love differently than I do
and I fail often to allow them to love me in their own way.

I have people I could love so much better than I do.
Jesus, help me love like you do.


You see….my struggle sometimes is that love is so entirely sacrificial and can, therefore, become so entirely unbalanced by either party. Yet the sacrifice requires a gracious heart that endures the imbalance and loves others anyway.

Screenshot_2014-12-10-12-25-03_1

A lot of people make a big deal about “boundaries” and “setting expectations” so that they don’t get taken advantage of. I agree with this in part and then disagree with this as well. If someone is being abusive to you, then absolutely you should set up boundaries and distance yourself from them. You are precious and under no circumstances do you deserve to be verbally, emotionally, mentally, sexually, or physically abused.

However, I disagree with setting boundaries just when you don’t get what you feel is owed to you – what you feel you deserve. Grace, love, and mercy are given to you freely without you having to do anything to earn them. You don’t deserve them. You’re not owed them. They’re just yours when you agree to receive them. Christ laid down his life for the people who mocked and scourged him. They rejected him and he gave. Grace is relentless and unwavering.

I LOVE this C.S. Lewis quote that so encapsulates the sacrificially loving and patient heart of God towards us:

Screenshot_2014-12-10-12-20-36_1

Do you know what 1st Corinthians lists as the 1st attribute of love?? Patience.

Love is patient.

Love waits for people.
Love waits for the reward, even if it will only come after this life has faded away.
Love is gracious and understanding when people don’t love you well.
Love is being patient with yourself when you fail to love people patiently.
Love is beginning each day with a heart that CHOOSES to remain open, humble, loving, and hopeful.
Love doesn’t give up on people just because they’re not meeting your expectations.
Love isn’t demanding.

So today, I will choose to be patient with others and with myself.
I will pray to become more patient. More gracious. More understanding of others. More willing to wait.

I will wait in hopeful expectation for deeper intimate friendships, for family peace, for the child I long to hold in my arms, for the day when I will see my Granny once again, and for the coming of the One who can settle all the turmoil and chaos of longing in my heart with just one glance of His eye. I will choose to love despite my shortcomings and despite the shortcomings of others. I will not lose heart even though that would be so very easy to do. I will not waver in my faith even though the circumstances around me mock me with their unmet expectations.

I will try my best, despite my failings, to love patiently through His strength as He enables me to give this gracious, patient love to others even when I feel depleted and empty. I will give all of me and He alone will fill me.

Screenshot_2014-12-10-12-20-47_1

On Risking Intimacy

Intimacy has been on my mind more than normal the past several months.
Not intimacy in a romantic way, but intimacy in friendships.

open_book_with_love_heart_in_folded_pages-wide1

Intimacy is something rare, precious, and beautiful. Obviously it can take time to forge, but it also takes something else that people so often distance themselves from: vulnerability.
Yet, as so many of us know and C.S. Lewis so eloquently said, “To love is to be vulnerable.”

It means that at a deeper level, I want to share with you who I really am.

I want to share:
My flaws,
My hang ups,
What makes me deliriously happy,
My dreams for the future,
My discontentment with things in my life that I wish were better,
What God is teaching me,
What God is really trying to teach me, if I am truly honest,
Where I’d like to be in 5 or 10 years,
What things hurt me the most,
and more…

There is so much to be said that goes past the noise and the cacaphonic clatter of small talk and perpetually shallow topics.

imagesCAXS1X80

But do you want to know the hardest part about intimacy? The part that is even harder than raw vulnerability…?

Intimacy at its core – every single time – must be consensual.

Screen-shot-2012-11-14-at-2_14_48-PM

I cannot be singularly vulnerable and raw with you and suddenly we now have intimacy.
You cannot pour your heart and soul out to me, while I am holding back and expect to feel the deep connection of an intimate friend.
Unfortunately, this is what makes intimate relationships so rare.
It is also what makes it precious and beautiful.
How cheap would intimacy be if we handed it out freely to everyone?

I have had maybe a handful of people in my life with whom I have shared a deep, intimate connection in friendship.
Those friendships have been and, in some cases still are, some of the most precious treasures of my life.
To connect on a real level means to be known, to be understood, and to be loved exactly where you are and for who you are.

Lately, I have found myself wanting more with my friendships in KC.
I need those deep, intimate connections.
Because of being new the area 4 years ago, it took some time to get to know people first.
Now I know and have quite a few friends and I am still finding it difficult to usher in the intimacy that I crave.
I crave it because I have experienced it before and anything less just seems lacking.

I need friends that I don’t just get together with when we have cook outs or birthday parties or game nights, but friends who I can text at a moment’s notice and bare my heart. Friends who can ask me how I am and I can respond, “Well, actually lately I feel like shit and I think I am battling some kind of temporary clinical depression.” Friends that I can ask, “What is going on?” or “How are you?” and they will tell me the things that affected them deeply over the past week, month, or year. Friends who are honest and friends who listen honestly.

Being vulnerable is so difficult because it literally leaves you open and raw to deep hurt. You have to choose wisely who you let in, but once you find someone you love and trust – don’t hold back!
They may be able to have access to the deepest parts of your heart, leaving you open to potential hurt, but by having access to those deep places of your heart you also invite the opportunity for deep love and deep connection. It is unimaginably worth it.

bd0f8a41007b925bd59d40039fc4ed24

Many of my friendships are beginning to scratch the surface towards this type of intimacy and I love it, but some are holding back in certain ways.
I can tell.

  • The first group of friends that are holding back don’t want to share. They’re great listeners and I know, in that moment, they are there for me, but they don’t want to expose their true hearts or thoughts in return.
  • The second group of friends share with me freely and vulnerably, but find it difficult to listen to me when I have something I need to share.
  • And sadly, the third group of friends show a desire for a close, connected friendship and then suddenly disappear altogether – lost in the flow of life and busyness and responsibilities.

To the first group I say this: When you’re ready, I am here. I am willing and ready to hear your heart and accept you for exactly who you are. You can trust me with your innermost thoughts and feelings. I am a great listener, 100% non-judgmental, and loyal to a fault. Take all the time you need.

To the second group I say this: I need you to listen because I may not have many people I trust to share my life with. I need it more than you might know. I am sorry if some of my struggles seem repetitive, since some of them I have been struggling with for a long time. Please give me a chance to share anyway. I love you honestly sharing your life with me; let me share mine in return.

To the third group I say this: You’re so incredibly busy and you may not realize the extraordinary benefit of an intimate friendship. It can bring so much joy, peace, reassurance, and even clarity to the pandemonium of your life. You don’t have to have this deep connection with me, but please find someone in your life to share a deeper connection with. You will be amazed at how taking the time for some deep, connected friendships can bring harmony to so many areas of your life.

BeSeen

To you reading this blog post.
Share your life with someone!
Find someone to trust and really trust them.
Be real and honest and vulnerable because without those things, what is the point?
Find someone you can cry in front of without embarrassment.
Find someone who stops everything they’re doing to listen to you.
Find someone you care for and listen to their heart with nothing but a smile, a hug, reassuring words, and love to give back to them.

Love people.
Be vulnerable.
Find treasure in intimacy.