Friday, April 1, 2011

Faith Building Friday- Friendships

Today is my best friend's birthday! If she weren't a whole state away I would be hanging out with her today for sure but instead, I'm taking part in a little blog hop that she recently started. I think it's a great way to start your weekend by focusing on some faith building element. I haven't done a post *like this* in a loooooong time so my brain feels rusty but here goes.

At bible study on Tuesday morning, a sweet gal from our church taught on "Paul's Companions" and the main emphasis was serving God together as women. It's no secret that women rely on relationships and friendships to survive and Paul had some great biblical examples of why that was so important.

The key points that I took from it weren't necessarily what everyone else took from it as we discussed around our bible study table but I felt very affirmed in some thoughts that I had already been having.

I feel like as women, we're often tempted to kick each other when we are down instead of lifting each other up. I have had instances in my life where I have been going through a tough time and have had friends literally tell me that I need to be more grateful and suck it up. Wow. Now there is definitely a time and a place for that *sometimes* if that's truly what the Lord is leading you to say to someone, but I think that we need to be each other's biggest fans, rather then jump at the opportunity to tear each other down and cast judgment. I feel like pregnancy is a time when this happens. No one knows exactly how sick or how exhausted we are because each person is unique and it's easy to think "wow, I was sick too but I still helped out at church" or "no one is THAT tired when they are 6 weeks pregnant", etc.

We are all at different parts of our journey's and it's not for us to say what someone else's life should look like. When I was working and even now, I struggle to find balance. I'm not going to be as *good* at balancing as friends of mine who have been moms for ten years and I'm certainly not going to judge friends of mine who are new mothers who seem to be struggling as well. We need to accept each other for where each other is at and realize that there are going to be times in life where we are the givers and times that we are the takers. It serves no purpose for us to tear each other down and point out weaknesses or failures. I have had friendships where I feel like I have been putting in a lot of effort and they just don't seem as able or willing to do the same. Instead of getting bitter and frustrated, I choose to take a step back, pray for them and I know that if our friendship is real, we'll reconnect again eventually. That is one thing that I've loved about my friendship with Rachelle that I blogged about on Wednesday. And also my friendship with Tiffany in fact now that I think about it. We've all gone through phases where we weren't as close but there was the understanding that we love and are there for each other. I don't deal with change or major transition very well. When I first got married, first got pregnant with Ems, gave birth to my first child, got pregnant with Everett....I tend to disappear for a little while when these major milestones occur. It's just my way of dealing with it and right or wrong, it's my way. We all deal with things differently and maybe change doesn't affect you as much as it affects me. Romans 14:1 says "Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters". I love the way The Message puts it....."Welcome with open arms fellow believers who don't see things the way you do. And don't jump all over them every time they do or say something you don't agree with—even when it seems that they are strong on opinions but weak in the faith department. Remember, they have their own history to deal with. Treat them gently." This totally validates me and various situations that I have encountered in life with different relationships. No, this doesn't give me permission to be a *bad* friend. But it inspires me to be a better friend to those that may be struggling.

Unfortunately, I have had friendships dissolve over differences of opinions and ways of handling things in life. I am okay with that though, I need to surround myself with people that love and encourage me. Yes, I can always improve. Yes, I need to be challenged. But in love. Do I think my friend with a 2 month old baby sounds kinda silly when she says she can't get ANYTHING done around her house? :) Yes....but I would never tell her that. Do I think it's amusing that a friend with a one year old hates to go anywhere because her not yet mobile daughter is *too hard*, meanwhile I'm sweating while chasing my daughter through Target, trying to explain why she doesn't need 8 new bottles of nail polish? No, I don't' think she is lame....I think that's where she's at and I can totally accept that and maybe chuckle to myself. See, I was once the mom with the 2 month old that was terrified to have people over because how on earth would I find time to cook or clean.....and I too had the one year old that was just *so much work* because she liked to sit in her stroller versus the shopping cart. (Oh to have a child that will sit ANYWHERE sounds wonderful...ha!) I'm sure that my friends reading this with older kids think it's funny that I think Ems is so much work now at 2 1/2 and how I struggle to find balance with ONE child versus the two, three or four that they have. (But really, 2 1/2 IS hard!! Hee hee)

Tammy talked about how Paul and Silas were in jail and something struck me. At the time, none of their friends knew what they were going through in jail and how awful that must have been for them. Even though obviously we aren't in a physical jail, there are sometimes things that go on in our own "prisons" or behind closed doors that our friends don't know about. I truly truly struggled with accepting this pregnancy initially and I had a couple friends tell me that I should just be grateful and they struggled to at one time but that was no excuse for me to be as not good of a friend as they expected me to be, etc. etc. I know that a pregnancy is a blessing. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God has sent us a son for a reason. But various personal reasons kind of overshadowed the excitement of this precious little life for a couple weeks. And was that easy for me to accept? Not at all...I have had many friends struggle with infertility and they dream of getting pregnant *accidentally*. I knew in my head that we are so tremendously blessed but my heart felt differently those first few weeks. We all have our OWN struggles and it's not for us to cast judgment on how each of us reacts to those struggles.

Tammy issued a challenge for us to think about three things....where am I today, how can I be stronger, and how can I protect those who are weaker? I want to be a person of encouragement in my friends lives. I want to be sensitive to the needs of those around me and realize that sometimes I need to look beyond the surface of a situation and really press in and pray for those who seem to be struggling. I am very aware of my imperfections and flaws and the more I realize how helpless I am, the more I realize my need of my Savior. I am in no position to raise my children or lead others without His help.

I'm praying for a transition time this Spring. Like I said yesterday, I've started feeling more like myself and I miss that. I want to be more self sacrificing and be a good example of compassion for my daughter. I tend to be very selfish and self absorbed when I'm pregnant. I'm not saying this is okay, but it's something I'm aware of. I'm so grateful to my friends that have stuck by me, "closer then a brother" and offer me encouragement and not condemnation.

In conclusion, I must say that I don't hold any bitterness or grudges towards anyone in my life. I have had friendships dissolve like I said but I believe there are seasons for everything. Sometimes God brings you people and removes them for whatever reasons. I am so thankful for my community of friends and blessed to raise my children among such wonderful people. :) I hope this post doesn't sound like a downer or a justification for any bad behavior as a friend. It's just what is/was on my heart after hearing the message on Tuesday morning.

Happy April!!!


Tiffany said...

I LOVE those verses!!!! So very often we take judgment into our own hands when Jesus tells us very straight forward that we are not to do that, it's His job! Good insight for us all to think about friend, thanks for sharing!

Rachelle said...

Great post! So happy you are *challenging* yourself to write everyday in April. It gives me legit reason to stalk your blog everyday now.
P.S. LOVE that you ended your post with "in conclusion". Made me feel like I had read something academic for the day! :)

Melissa said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE this post! We are SO on the same page with things like this. It drives me nuts when someone judges someone else b/c THEY didn't do/need/feel-like that! You know? Everyone is different & everyone is in a different place in life. GREAT POST, Patti! :)

Sherrie said...

I often feel that way when I am around women who have 5+ kids and I am complaining about 3!

I know we have had rocky roads in our relationship, but hopefully in the future we will get past that.

I can relate to the retreating..I am in that now and have been for a month. I finally made an April goal to have a friend/family over for dinner once a week. I have a feeling that with Spring coming, my funk will soon end. :)

Julia said...

I'm a little late to the party, but this blog is just perfect for me today! I struggle with sharing how Im dealing with things (like pregnancy, not working, bedrest...) because I'm worried about what other women will think. But on the other hand I crave connection and real relationships with other women who are or have been in a similar place in life! I've learned a lot about not judging other moms lately, and I really appreciate you writing this! It's great to think about, and see how we can change our own outlook first. And I am grateful for you! :)