Monday, September 29, 2008

Friendship


Friend: a person whom one knows, likes, and trusts.
Friendly: favorably disposed; not antagonistic. Warm; comforting.

Friendship is so important to me. I’ve been awhile without having really close friends. Every single one of my high school and college girlfriends moved to other states. For decades, when I said “my friend in (insert state)” what I came to mean was “my acquaintance.”

About three years ago, I was so longing for a friend, a true-real-life-close-to-me friend, that I prayed for one. I remember that night clearly. It is one of the few times I’ve spent hours in prayer, with tears streaming down my face. I was so lonely for someone that liked some of my likes, someone who didn’t look at me like I’d grown a third eyeball when I talked philosophy or politics, someone I could trust, someone who could really know me and still like me. Someone who loves her husband as much as I love mine and didn’t love to trash him every phone call. A homemaker who understood what I was trying to do in my home against all odds.

You may never realize how much having a girlfriend means to you until you find yourself without one for twenty years. It’s harder making friends when your kids aren’t the same age or you aren’t nearby to one another.

Once upon a time (now), I had two new and wonderful women as friends. They were unusual in that they each came from completely opposite ends of the eastern part of our country. They've met in the middle, right where I'm living!

(Let me mention here that when looking at the timing of their motives to move here that I believe they are answered prayer. A double blessing!)

They also hold seemingly different viewpoints; politically and domestically. I’ve been on both sides of the coin in my lifetime, so I can see why each holds to their views. One finds it funny and almost a compliment to be called a "Stepford Wife." The other is horrified at the thought!

But, they have so much more in common. They are both highly intelligent. They both enjoy writing. They are both sensitive and been burnt by others too many times to count.

They are both excellent hostesses and even better company. They each have interesting thoughts and stories and we enjoy one another’s company. We’ve had many similar experiences in our early years. We all enjoy and appreciate the needle arts and writing and reading.

But a misunderstanding seems to be trying to creep in. I do believe we all want to be friends, but there is a guarded stance in one and a foggy lens in the other.


I understand the guarded stance. As Christians, homemakers, stay-at-home wives and mothers, and especially for homeschoolers there is a NEED to be guarded. Experience has taught her (and myself) that there is no shortage of bitter haters and nasty gossips just waiting for the chance to broadcast that you’ve done something less-than-perfect. I can understand if someone doesn’t want to open their door if their children are still in their pj’s at the school table or if the carpet is dirty after hearing countless stories from places that are not home school-friendly. At the snap of a finger, one can lose their kids and are plunged into nightmare. Sure, you can defend and get them back, but normal will still always be lost. I don’t like the odds.

At the same time, I can understand how someone who wants to be an authentic friend could feel uneasy around someone so guarded.

Time. Trust comes with time and trust-worthiness.

I remember being steeped in feminism as a way of life and angry at those women who seem oblivious to how close we still are to losing our “rights.” I want the right to go to work if I want, to earn equal pay for equal work, and the power of the vote. It became such a way of thinking that I couldn’t understand the flip-side. Indeed any flip-side was labeled as ignorant and given terms like “cult” and un-educated. Oh, if only they would embrace education! I was constantly looking at the world through this lens.

Time. And balance.

There are publications like “Victoria” and Gloria Steinbeck’s columns that keep the fires a‘burning on opposite ends of our country. Neither of my friends would claim to be followers of either, but I’ve heard them inspired by quotes in both.

Both of my friends are authentic. They each have a beautiful home that is sometimes in the throngs of daily messiness. They are both lovely people and as nice as can be. Each of them are staunch believers in what they believe in. And we each want to be friends to one another. Sometimes I watch and wait for the end result. I can see beautiful possibilities; three friends out for the day and able to honestly weigh-in on their views and why they believe them as they drink glass after glass of peach tea. Then they listen to each other and consider without judging. And they are patient with one another.

Time. And balance. These are needed to make friendship grow. Even in the case where the soil in imbalanced, a flower will eventually bloom if allowed enough time and given enough growing room and DETERMINATION from the seed.

And I must admit my own faults. I, too, have been guarded. I, too, have sat back and listened without fully divulging my staunch beliefs and why I hold some of them. I will resolve to be more trusting and take a chance. If I am hurt, it won’t be the first time and I already know how to react with grace. If I feel rejected, I will say so. If I am loved in spite of my differences, then I may have found a friend for a lifetime.

And around here, that is truly an answered prayer.

1 comment:

The Tile Lady said...

I completely understand how you feel about the need for true, trust-worthy, accepting friendships....we all need them. They are hard to find. I have seldom lived near my closest friends, because we have moved around so much in my life, and I have left one or another "behind" at times. In fact, one of my close friends is someone I haven't actually SEEN in person in twenty-six years. The moving leaves one and another behind, but brings new ones as well....another very close friend lived near me, and actually worked with me, for the six years we were in Texas. But, now she has been left behind as well. I say this because I feel so very blessed to have the friends that I do have, but I rarely get to do lunches with them or have them to my house. That does make one feel lonely, when letters do not arrive because of busy lives, and there is no one to share certain times with. I went through that for the last three and a half years. I realized when I moved out of my last house, and out of the small town in which we lived, that I hadn't made a friend, or even really a good acquaintance, out of a single solitary person there in all that time. Friendships are truly wonderful gifts, and we need to treasure them--and be benevolent of differing views and opinions, because that always happens. But true acceptance can live with that, no matter what....