“Father, make of me a crisis man. Bring those I contact to decision. Let me not be a milepost on a single road;
make me a fork
, that men must turn one way or another on facing Christ in me.” - Jim Elliot

Friday, January 11, 2008

The Friendships of Women #7

Wouldn't life be easier?

It has been taking me a couple days to publish my posts on The Friendships of Women. In my previous post, the realization of where, when and/or how you learn to be a best friend caught me off guard. I needed time to think about it before I felt I had thought it through enough to publish it. I laugh at myself when I remember that I had thought the review of this book might help you. As usual, the "teacher" learns more than the student. Sure keeps me humble!

Chapter 8: Promise Me Unfailing Love
"Just as marriages need to be based on commitment rather than feelings, so do cherished relationships."

Wouldn't it just be so much easier if we could hand over this child-like note to the women in our lives?  Sometimes, I think I would feel more comfortable in my friendships if I had confidence in knowing "exactly" how much I mean to someone.  I guess I would also need a note when the friendship changes... or ends.  Like a survey or a questionnaire... hee, hee!

I tend to have what I call "high turnover" in my friendships. There are women who come into my life for a short period of time for a reason that only God has ordained... and then they move on. Due to my personality to reach out to anyone who is "new" -- I have set myself up for these type of relationships.  I used to think when my new friends moved on... that they were rejecting me. What had I done wrong that they had no need for our friendship--as it had existed--any longer? Anthony would affirm me and say, "It's not about you. It's about them." I would try to understand, but it hurt... so it was about me.

Now that I am feeling more comfortable in my skin, I am getting a wee bit better at telling the difference between the somewhat temporary (high turnover) relationships and best friendships.  But this is no exact science!

In this chapter the author discussed an unwritten vow or commitment that we have with some of our friends.  An Implicit Bond.  A bond that is implied but not plainly expressed.  It may be unspoken, but it is a commitment we have to the people whose souls have been knit to ours.  Examples from the Bible would be Ruth and Naomi, David and Jonathan, & Mary and Elizabeth.

But even in our best friendships (or those women with whom we have established this implicit bond), we can go through times that feel like betrayal.  One of my best friends -- who due to changes in the structure to her family -- began to limit time/energy previously devoted to our relationship.  Her familial changes were positive and obviously required more of her attention.  But after all our years together... all the time invested... I felt betrayed.  Abandoned.  Rejected.

Then I read these life-changing words from this chapter, "best friendships have a natural rhythm of intense closeness and natural drifting apart... we vacillate between the two: we're close, and then we feel the need for space; we're apart, and then we miss each other. If we interpret the natural drifting apart period as betrayal (which it isn't), then out of hurt or anger we may become the betrayer."

I almost became the betrayer!  (Thank God this chapter was so timely for me.)  I felt so hurt by the distance that had gone on for so long that I wanted to start distancing myself by not being available so that I would not feel rejected.  That's not what I wanted or what my friend needed from me.   When I began to realize that my friend and I did truly have an implicit bond... and that we could drift apart for a season and then drift back together... I stopped feeling betrayed... rejected... abandoned.  I started being encouraging and available... and I prayed for her situation.  I gave her unfailing love which is what she has given me over the years. 

And you know what?  She called me on Tuesday... spur of the moment and invited me to lunch at Marco's.  And we had a wonderful time of fellowship.  Thank you, God!

Note to self:  When I trust my feelings over facts (or my commitments), I end up not only hurting myself... but the ones I cherish.


Kathy said...

Great post! I remember a time when I supposed I became the betrayer because I thought my friend had betrayed me. But looking back, I realize now it wasn't her fault that the guy I liked asked her out. She had no idea how strongly I felt about him. But I allowed that to completely change our "friend" relationship and it was never the same after that. I regret it to this day.
But I did end up getting to marry the guy!

Kentucky Bound said...

I'm really beginning to think you are writing these posts especially for me! I read somewhere once that friendships come in three basic categories. A reason, a season and a lifetime. That little realization in itself has helped me understand it a little better when a friendship fades. Your study of a book that I MUST find a copy of for myself, and sharing it with us has broadened that understanding. Thanks again for your discerning spirit and taking the time to "teach us".


BP said...

I have enjoyed reading the past couple posts on frienship.

Amel's Realm said...

GREAT post!!!

I have a slightly different situation, though. When I moved to Finland, I had no friends yet, so I clung to my old closest friends too tightly. I bombarded them with emails...and in the end they couldn't keep up with me anymore.

One of them blatantly said that to me...she said that she needed balance in life and if she gave too much time only to reply my emails, other aspects of her life would be neglected and she'd feel guilty and in the end angry at me for having "stolen" that time for her since she KNEW I needed that time.

I was hurt since I had felt the rift already, but it was just like a HUGE sign being slapped on my face. But I thanked her for having said it out blatantly so that I didn't live in denial and felt that everything was the same as it used to be.

I told them that I needed time away from them. I had to separate myself from them and really felt that I didn't need them anymore before I could be "neutral" (not clingy, not playing as the victim anymore).

It took me a few months before I could finally feel that I would be fine even without them...and only then I could rekindle my friendship with them. My need for them has become more healthy...and I don't make them too tired with my long emails anymore. I manage to write shorter emails and I told them if they wanted to read the details, they should just visit my blog. :-))))

I cried a lot during the first weeks, though he he he he...gladly now I can continue my friendship with them in a more natural way. :-))))