I went on a road trip last week – picking up a trailer for my husband. He was too busy to take off, and I offered to go. With a toddler in the backseat, it promised to be a long and tiresome drive. But still, I offered to go.
I have two wonderful friends in that state; one a long-time friend and one a new friend. Both wonderful ladies. Both worth making an effort to see. Was it a bit crazy? Yes. I only had a few hours with each gal. But SO worth it!
With the old friend, we caught up on each other’s lives and marveled over the growth of our kids. We sipped Coke and laughed and fell into conversation with the ease of women who truly understand and empathize with each other.
With the new friend, we introduced our families and compared lives. We nibbled homemade cake and smiled at our kids, asked questions and began to understand the stories of each others’ lives.
And as I headed home, I was filled to the brim with the love and friendship these two ladies offered me. Supportive, understanding friendship. They didn’t have to take time out of their busy lives to see me. Goodness, with the one – I forgot about time change and she waited an hour (an HOUR!) at the meeting place before I arrived. The other one, well, I changed plans so many times that it’s a wonder she didn’t tell me to forget the whole meeting! (excuse me while I sink into a hole of shame!) Point is, they waited. They were gracious. They put time and effort into meeting me.
I was pondering this on the long drive home. I was thinking of friendships and what they mean. And how I can be a better friend. Let me tell you, it’s real easy to blame a poor (or strained) friendship on the ‘other person’, but the reality is; I make my own friendships. I have discovered many, many lonely women the last few years. It has little to do with location; some of the loneliest women live in cities, surrounded by a big church, and yet so alone they cry themselves to sleep at night.
We need friendships, gals! We need to be there for each other. To call, text or write. To actually remember birthdays and send actual cards. (not just a generic Facebook greeting, altho those are nice too)
We need to visit when they are sick, and encourage when they are down. How many times have we told our husbands: “You don’t need to fix it! I just need you to listen!”? Yep. Been there. Let me tell ya somethin. We need to stop trying to ‘fix’ each other. When I am having a hard time with something, I just want you to listen. Not offer your clever fixes. Not recount how you had it worse but here’s how you dealt with it. Just listen. and maybe brew some coffee. 😉 There are some friends of mine who I never share the deep things of my heart with, because they always, always try to counsel, direct, advise, or otherwise try to ‘fix’ me. I really just wish they’d listen.
Note: I do believe we need to take instruction and rebuke graciously. We need to have a soft heart that is easy to be intreated. (James 3:17) But that doesn’t mean we should go around doling out unsolicited advice all the time. Often the most spiritual way to teach others is by modeling a life of victory in Jesus – not preaching.
I was mulling over how many times I have made flippant half-promises to my friends, but never carried through. How many times I have out-done them when they are sharing a story or experience. How many times I retreat into my corner when a friend hurts me, instead of reaching out in love. It needs to change, starting with yours’ truly.
I don’t mean we have to run ragged trying rustle up a good friend or do stuff all the time. There are times when you try, but a friendship just isn’t working. And that person moves on and you have to chalk it up as a loss and go on. At least I don’t now how else to deal with it, when someone cuts you out of their lives. Not much you can do except treat them with love and not get bitter.
But those friends you do have – they are worth your time. Nurture a good friendship. Two or three solid friendships are worth more than a dozen shallow ones. But you have to do your part. You can’t expect to take and take and never give. Maybe your friend is busy, overwhelmed or otherwise too busy to think of you for awhile – now would be a good time to ‘do unto others’! Drop by with a cold tea or a hot meal. Set up a meeting at a park (so she doesn’t have to clean, ya know!) 😉 Or whatever you know she would appreciate. Learn to know your friends. Learn what makes them feel loved. Then do it. Nurture good friendships. They are oh, so worth it!
And now I shall go clean my house, because taking a road trip to see friends is wonderful but makes for lots of laundry and a dirty house!