Tuesday, April 14, 2009

You must love me exactly as I love you.

I've never been a very good friend.

I can admit that. I can own it because He loves me regardless.

But regardless, we are called to be there for each other, to carry each others burdens, encourage and exhort one another.


If I wanted to, I could give you five solid reasons why I've never been a good friend. My childhood of moving around every few years, friends who have left me when I needed them most, a couple of friends who hurt me deeply...I could go on but honestly, it's me. It's the decisions that I make after such an event.

Before I got married, I had a good many friends (friends I realize now who were unwilling to change and grow with me, friends who were afraid of struggling and pain).
After our honeymoon, we inevitably crawled into a self induced hibernation period where nothing and no one existed except the two of us. We spent years there.
When we re-emerged, I realized I had maybe one or two friends left.

Whose fault was it? I admit that I spent all my time with Chris and our marriage was number 1 in both our books (which is a good thing), but I left out the importance of community in our marriage.

For a long time after realizing this, things still didn't change. I didn't know how to approach the friends I had left out and I didn't know how to make new friends as a wife. Believe it or not, it just felt different making friends as a married person and I had no confidence in the friend category. I was afraid to get hurt and afraid to hurt others.
I just sort of gave up.

When I was pregnant with Owen, I remember my desire to make new friends grew and I was also getting closer to friends who had young children- thinking we could be play date buddies and our children could grow up together. It was important to find women who were in the same place as me. I wanted a place of belonging.

And then Owen died.

My desire for all things vanished. Another self induced hibernation, except this one wasn't so blissful.

In the midst of my grief and pain, there were women who came forward. They were strong and courageous; intent on walking this road with me. Some had never lost babies, and a few had been through tragedies of their own.

Many phone calls, emails, letters and even visits (love you L.) went unanswered, but their persistence in standing with me was unflappable. I couldn't push them away and as much as I tried to be alone, they would not let me.

The reality of community was taking shape in my life and one day, I understood what Jesus had been talking about in the Bible- why we must meet with one another, exhort, encourage and carry each others burdens...we are God's hands and feet.

I have been drawn back to the Lord by the Holy Spirit's working in my friends' lives.

How incredible and wonderful.


Having a blog has been instrumental in the rekindling of the desire to be a good friend or even just have friends again- something I thought I had given up on so many years ago.

I have loved getting to know you all.

I know that the Lord orchestrated my meeting Tonya, who found my blog through Molly's. We just 'happen' to live in neighboring towns. In fact, we are getting together again sometime this week!
And wouldn't you believe that our sons share the same due date just one year apart!

Anna, I love talking to you through email, I just wish that Wisconsin and Georgia weren't so far apart.
I could list each of you by name, but I would be afraid that I'd accidentally leave one of you out.
But you know who you are...and hopefully you know how much you mean to me.

It is amazing to say that friendship and community have never been so vital. I know that reading this, Chris is jumping up and down in his seat right now. His constant prayer for years has been for me to make invaluable friendships.

The ability to open up online and share my feelings with a bunch of strangers (who grew to be friends) has affected my life (the one outside the computer) in tremendous ways.

I do answer my phone now when I get a call (crazy, I know!) and I will respond to emails and make plans with friends. I have realized how important it is to walk with our friends when they are hurting and to carry their burdens. As scary as it is to put myself out 'there' again and be vulnerable with other people, it is scarier to be alone.


I am so thankful that no matter how 'good' a friend we are, He is the ultimate Friend and keeper of all promises. He holds us up.

8 comments:

Ashley said...

Ok Ebe I had no idea you lived in GA!!! Me too! I live just south of Atlanta in Jonesboro, what about you? Would love to get together some time if you are up for another friend :)

Ashley

Emily said...

I totally relate to the weirdness of making friends as a married person. I had good friends and roommates, and I felt so disconnected from them, for years after I was married. And I do feel an ability to connect deeply again, in the aftermath of Desmond's death.

Emily

sjefferson said...

Ebe...

Thanks for the sweet post last week! I've prayed for you numerous times this week as the Lord has brought you to mind.

Great post and so, so true! I have felt like a recluse at various times over the past two years. Sometimes the reality of seeing pregnant mommas, little babies and seemingly happy families is too much. It's like salt on a wound. Praise the Lord for good friends who drag you out and never let go! ...and for a Savior who weeps with us, hurts for us and loves us when we're so unlovable! I don't understand His love, but I'm so very thankful!

I also live in GA (Marietta)...

Tonya said...

Ebe,

I can't wait to see you this week! Looks like from your comments, we might need to have a "central" meeting place and get together with some of our online blog friends...

So thankful for you!!!!

Love,
Tonya

Anna said...

((((hugs)))) Oh, I wish Wisconsin and Georgia weren't so far apart too. Thank you, I love talking to you too...

Love,

Anna

Kara said...

I totally understand the difficulty with making (heck, keeping) friends as a married. I've drifted apart from a lot of people (including you) and I'm definitely trying to work on that. I miss you and hope you find yourself out here in MA sometime (or me back in GA)- it's been far too long! Love you.

Chris said...

How did you know I was jumping up & down in my seat?! I love you and am so glad the Lord is teaching us both the importance of community (to have others around AND to be there for others)...it really is His hands and feet.You are precious Babe.
PAPA

Anonymous said...

I would love to do something together or have lunch and catch up. I love you and was overjoyed to read this blog entry. Although the time in the office is super busy, I'm thinking of you often and would love to give you a hug in person soon. Love, Dorothe