Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What's Your Schedule Look Like?
The Trials of Adulthood Friendship

Do you have any friends?

She asked me after small group one evening while stood in my doorway. Her inquisitive face was illuminated by the warm glow of my living room after everyone had left. The tell-tale remains of laughter and chatter were splayed by used tea bags and crumbs on my dining room table.

She stayed behind.

We were trying to schedule time to get together, and her question gave me a momentary brain-whiplash.

Of course I have friends. Of course I've had the pleasure of having my life shaped by so many wonderful, vibrant friendships. Many of them gathered around my table every week in a wine-and-tea-drinking club disguised as a Bible study.

Why was it that I could only name a few women I truly trusted in my day-to-day that I could call friends? Close friends. Friends to be myself around. Who I can wear yoga pants and skip the eyeliner around.

That moment, standing in the doorway of my home, in a city I'd lived in for six years post-college, my closest friends lived states and time zones away.

Any friendship I had cultivated after college graduation had come from deliberate, intentional work. Practicing vulnerability and making time for people – which came so naturally, easily and immediately in college –  was becoming an art form.

And when it came to scheduling time to actually get together, it was a

downright miracle.

A few weeks ago, I shared a post about the difficulty of female friendship. But what I'm discovering post-college is that friendship is hard to navigate as we step deeper into adulthood. Across gender, political, socioeconomic, life stages and even longitudinal lines.

I have a few ideas as to why this happens:

The truth is, I'm afraid of being too vulnerable with the people in my day-to-day. After all, they're the ones who see how run-down an over-packed schedule makes me. They're the ones who are there on the quiet weeknights when we serve soup and salad for dinner.

They're the ones who see the dishes piled in the sink, or paper clutter scattered throughout our condo like oversized confetti.

They're the ones who get the emergency: need margaritas, now! texts midway through the workday. I have those people. And it's made me incredibly thankful.

But it's also made me a little scared to think of how long it's taken to cultivate them

I'm afraid of being one-hundred percent who I am with

many of the people I see in my every day life.

For fear of being too needy. Too pushy. Too offensive. Or holding on too tightly.

Friendships in adulthood don't come in abundance.

They don't come about every night and weekend like they did in college. When we were all in the same life stage, virtually. When so many of us had the same visions, and pursuits.

Now we're working. We're raising children. We're waiting for our husbands to come home from deployment. Or we're waiting for our husbands to come into our lives in the first place.

We're doctors. Marketing professionals. Lawyers. Retail workers. Waitresses. Dietitians. Mothers. Wives. Daughters. Girlfriends.

We're different, and as a result, we're stretched for time in our schedules.

But the journey to make time for those people, to let those who are near to you in this stage, in this realm of life, into your world. And maybe give you a little girlfriend therapy while they're there.

I breached the topic about adult friendship on Twitter. 

And set on a mission to discover what was hardest about being a friend in adulthood. Here's what a few of you said:

Any friendship I have post-college has come at hard, soulful work. It's come through sweat – literally running in life side-by-side with other women I admire – and tears.

And time.

But the journey has been overwhelmingly worth it; and I've never regretted any hour I've ever set aside for good, honest, face-to-face hearts-to-hearts in this season.

And I don't think you will either.


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Friday, July 22, 2016

On True Forgiveness

My husband stood me up for lunch.

It was about a year ago, a few weeks after we were married.

And, in his defense, it was an honest mistake that was totally outside of his control. He works in a space with a special security clearance where they don't allow cell phone. He couldn't get in touch with me to tell me he had a sudden change of plans.

But still. My first emotion -- after a strong bout of panic and calling his phone nearly a dozen times -- was understanding, with just a tiny twinge of bitterness.

I mean, I forgave him. Completely.

It's was totally fine.

Life and work comes up.

Circumstances frequently get in the way of what matters the most to us.

But he better be prepared to make it up to me. 

Big time.

And because I married the most gracious human on the planet, he did make it up to me. That evening there was a special bar of chocolate and a nice meal prepared for me when I walked in through the door after work.

Everything was fine. I'm not saying that chocolate is the answer for everything, but it certainly helps. He apologized. I forgave him after understanding all he'd gone through to earn his way back in. But I did sit back and bask in his eagerness to redeem himself.

After all, I deserved it. Didn't I?

That made me wonder what the rest of my relationships would look like. If I sat around and waited for the people who've wronged, inconvenienced, or hurt me to make it up to me before they won forgiveness.

Something about that screams unhealthy. And a little bit like a Hunger Games spin-off. To live in a world where your actions are only forgiven after they're sealed with an apology. And delivered with a gift or compliment. 

It made me wonder how hard I'd have to work to stay in good graces with everyone if I had to buy back forgiveness. If I had to pay reparations for my past mistakes. If I had to over-correct all minor and major (let's be honest, mostly major) shortcomings and flaws with doing, pleasing, buying, making-it-up.

I'd owe the world a lot of chocolate.

That is, if you were into that kind of thing.

We do it a lot, don't we? We utter phrases under our breaths that seem to point to earning back grace with each other.

Perhaps it's my people-pleasing tendencies that feeds my need to over-correct, but when I've wronged someone, I can't let it go. Even after I've apologized. Even after they've assured me that it's okay. That they haven't thought about it since.

Let me make it up to you

I'll take you out to dinner.

Next one's on me.

My treat.

As if we need to earn forgiveness. As if it's not a gift in and of itself. As if it's something we can track with an Excel spreadsheet. That we can measure against each other. That we can make sure we stay in the green with everyone.

And because we're human, because we're flawed, we let people down. We say terrible things. Some we don't mean. Some we do.

Sometimes asking for forgiveness doesn't seem like enough. Sometimes accepting forgiveness without exchanging a few frequent-offenders miles doesn't feel right.

It's not fair.

It's unnatural.

But, it's grace.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

A Prayer for the People in the Thick of It

Where are you today?

I'm in a slow, in-between season.

So many of these life phases are met with a taffy pulling in-between. A place where there is level ground. A place where there is only residual momentum from a flash-bang season, or none at all.

A place where you show up to your everyday world, pray your car starts, pray against traffic and hope for green lights. It's a place of predictability and almost-certainty. Where the divots in your day, a speed bump, a chest cold come as a complete surprise. A shock to the system.

Our friends and family ask what's new? And our blank stares serve as our replies.

Nothing is new. Not really. The novelty of this season has worn and stretched into comfortable. Like a pair of tried and true blue jeans.

Same job. 

Same relationships. 

Same grocery lists. 

Same apartment. 

Same running route.

Same habits and pursuits.  

This isn't a bad situation in and of itself. I know people in different seasons of life who would beg for normal. Whose work schedules leave them striving for pockets of time to have a social life. Whose lives as mothers or military spouses leave them in a state of anything but normalcy.

Whose diagnosis, depression, divorce, you-name-it, would have them leap at the chance for one minute to pass over them. Normal. Predictable.

But then there are those who have projects or fabulous careers that are launching them into a world of exciting opportunities, speaking gigs, music deals and Instagram followers.

But for the rest of us, there is the thick, slow season. 

Where the work we do plateaus. Where nothing really changes in a culture that seems addicted to change. In a world that stammers at the thought of contentedness. In a nation that bulks at the idea of wanting simple. Of being faithful stewards of the normal in our lives without wanting a better, newer model.

Without wanting a better, newer life.

It's not a jealousy that plagues at all. Not really. I know that this season won't stay still forever. That I've come out from a huge life-change. It's just a general wondering, really. What is it that makes the people unlock such phenomenal levels of person-dom?

I know that God is at work in the normal, still waters of our lives as he is in the seasons of riot, chaos and clutter. He's the God of the brilliant just as He is of those who wait, hands clasped, for further instruction.

Who stay the course.

He is the God of the patient -- or those seeking patience -- and He reigns through the questions. The still, the ordinary and the regular.

photo credit: still life via photopin (license)