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.