All Else Fails, but Heaven Waits

“Usually” means different things for me today than it did a little over half a decade ago. Thank God, I’ve moved out of the Bad Old Days and into a new life. I have friends and self-esteem (security, instead of insecurity about my identity). I don’t have to win at all costs all of the time. And I don’t mind giving 100% on my end of a relationship. I’m not saying: I always do that. I’m not saying: I don’t ever get tired. But I’m usually good with giving. And when I’m not okay, I don’t do anything drastic; I just step back a little…and allow The Scales of Relationship to balance.

Sometimes you feel like royalty. Sometimes you feel like a dirty bin left on the side of the road. And all you’ve got to look forward to is the garbage man coming to take out the trash. Oh, but he doesn’t take you. You get left behind. What do you do then, but wait for someone to rinse you off and roll you back up the driveway? Either way, you’re at the mercy of a whim, waiting for someone to care. Thing is, you can stop caring, too… But then you’re just trying to fill up the empty with more empty. The real answer’s tough. You have to get mad. Then you have to tell the truth. Then…you have to start cutting things – ties. Investments. You have to be willing to be disappointed. Again.

As much as I experience it and try to learn about it, I do not understand the ebb and flow of relationships. Except… There’s something about most relationships (not blood connections, usually) that makes us treat them like library rentals. What you check out of the library can be returned. If it gets torn, we just scotch tape it. Often, even when they leave us torn, we hold on to blood connections. We never let them go. However, when most relationships disappoint us, we pack them back up like borrowed books and dump them in a drop box. We distance ourselves. We reevaluate. We hold grudges. We let people go.

That’s how it works.

I love people. I love facilitating relationships between other people. I value the connections of others as well as my own. But, for most of this part of life, I’ve been a loner. Thus and unfortunately, it’s too easy for me to let hope in people subside. 

That’s good and bad. Because, people aren’t like God; we’re seasonal. We’re roller coasters. We change. We grow – together…and apart. We disappoint.

So, ultimately, God is who we need. Faith in Jesus Christ. To rest in Him and the Love WHO IS…God.

This is something we need 🤓 Eternal Perspective Glasses to see 👓 When this part of life sinks, our existence in Christ can still float on the buoy of the hope we only have in Him.

Am I a Good Friend?

Are you wondering if your friends are good to you or, whether you’re good for them? Ask yourself: 1) Are you preach-y or judge-y? 2) Are you a Picker or a Lifter? And, 3) Are you there for each other in word and deed? Some of us have a “love language” of performance and presence and investment…like me.

It’s great to learn what you need from others. We all need to recognize when we aren’t getting what we want. We grow in maturity when we can, without apology, require and share our expectations with the people that matter. But, in talking with a friend recently, I realized that I need to re-calibrate.

Sometimes, as friends we – especially women – can confuse being present and aware and concerned with being obnoxiously claustrophobic. It’s great to know what our friends are going through. Honesty is great, too. And, I think we definitely should let our friends know we haven’t forgotten them or their struggles. But ☝🏾

Sometimes, we overdo it. We forget to give our friends space from their troubles. We pile up our advice and hard-hitting questions. We’re not reporters, and our job as friends is not to make people feel like specimens under a microscope 🔬 or witnesses on trial regarding their own lives and choices. Sometimes the problems and wounds don’t need any more picking and piling on. We don’t have to roll in with gloom all the time. Maybe we can let infections air out when we come around instead.

I think the issue is that we sometimes get confused about how love in a friendship should look. We don’t know how to define it or, we decide that what we know how to give is good enough.

But our friends don’t need us to be lecture-y or pitying. If we default to pity and well-meaning concern every time we call, text, or meet up, we’ll become like a plague people want to avoid. If we set our tone to Perpetual Motherly Concern, we will be the Debbie Downers of our friends’ lives – exactly, what they do not want from or like about us!

A friend, Deena Gasteier reminded me of what it means to be a good friend – even when we see our friends burdened with challenges in their own lives👇🏾

It’s really hard to tell someone to stop doing the only thing they know to do. You show up. Be there; that’s how to be a good friend. Call every now and then. Remind them that you’re there. And the conversation doesn’t always have to be about the problem or the elephant 🐘 in the room. Be a breath of fresh air: Don’t just know the problems. Let people vent and be heard. When you’re hanging out with your friends, that’s your laughter and your escape.

How can we be good friends when it’s hard? Step 1) Ask your friends what they want from you; and Step 2) Be willing to learn from them and adjust.

Be there when it’s hard. And be their laughter. Their escape… 🎯

Writing & Building a Future System

It’s been a week. In the summer, when hours melt into days and days melt into weeks without proper borders – my knowledge of the time; my awareness of the day or, date – a week feels like months! No newsletter published… No blog post published or shared across any of my media accounts… But I have been writing. Beginning again in June 2018 after not having written since February for a host of “reasons,” my writing Sister-Friends, Mary Kate and Emily Allen helped me get back into the saddle. Thousands of words are flowing. I decided on at least an option for the ending. I’ll be writing the endings of my screenplays first – before I write anything else – from now on. Alternate endings and then scene building in the future: That’s my new, Future System. I broke this one – that is, this project – into 3 “acts,” to the best of my ability. I’ve drafted  the first act. I’m feeling my way toward the end of the second act. Act III is going to be a hike. 🤷🏽‍♀️ Maybe it won’t be as hard to complete as it feels like it will be to me right now… We shall see.

For good or ill, “Mom” is coming along.

It’s about moms who are friends. Mom Friends and their relationships with their own moms… And it’s a glimpse into what it means to be a mom, though there’s a linear and actual (read: concrete) plot:  A mom is fighting for the beliefs of her daughter, even though her child’s beliefs diametrically oppose her own. In the doing, she fights for her family to come together and come alongside her attempt to help her daughter make her own choice about God.

 

Friends Disappoint

I’m feeling all the feels, I guess… Feeling like friends think I’m stupid or, a doormat – neither of which is a good thing to think about your friend.

It’s hard to experience people in whom you’ve invested and in whom you’ve given of yourself – going beyond your comfort zone in the doing – taking you for granted. You don’t like to think people are along for the ride when it’s fun or free or beneficial…but “busy” when situations ask them to invest. In you.

At the same time, I have a friend who seems to want to reconcile…without dealing with the issue(s) that caused the break. She wants to play nice and sweep all the ugliness under the rug, I guess…

I really like it when things can be fixed, when they can come back together – because everyone involved really wants that to happen. I just think confrontation needs to happen first. I’ve had friends throw me overboard. Then those same friends show up with a life jacket…in a yacht. And while I appreciate them coming, I’m not done wondering: Why did you throw me from the boat in the first place?

Is that not nice to say? Well, I think that if something breaks, we need to know how and why. Furthermore, I think we need to discuss ways to keep that from happening again – a breakdown of civility and thoughtfulness and patience… We need to figure out how to give each other the benefit of the doubt and how to treat each other as equally valuable.

Isn’t that what friends do? That’s what I want my friends to do.

I don’t want friends to put down their tools and take breaks while I’m still hard at work – pulling weeds and doing the necessary maintenance of showing up and reaching out that it takes to be a good friend. And, I don’t want my friends to stop communicating with me, because it gets hard… Have you ever heard the saying: It’s not the crime; it’s the coverup?

When it comes to close relationships like friendship, it’s not that I can’t accept 1) Friends needing breaks; 2) Friends not being able to do what they say they will do; or 3) Disappointments in general. No. My issue is with the behavior and communication surrounding these things. We need to talk about what’s going on inside of and around us, so there’s clarity and certainty between us.

And I feel like everyone in the relationship has his or her own weight to carry. We all have stuff. We all have things. We all have emotions that can get messy and interfere with healthy interactions. Of course! But we still have responsibilities – toward every relationship that we care about. The responsibility to communicate honestly. The responsibility to invest and be more than hungry receptacles of care and attention.

Some of us need to learn to use the calendar 📆 app on our phones 📲 I mean… Some of us have greater gifts and strengths than remembering dates and planning events – like me 🙋🏽‍♀️ But we can choose to excuse ourselves or, compensate for our weaknesses. And then, some of us simply need to learn to apologize.

I was watching one of the animal documentaries that I love and learning about what it takes to be an aerodynamic flyer. It takes a great set of wings or strong flapping or air streams – stuff that will help you get up and stay up. Things that create and sustain lift. Everything that comes against flyers as they gain speed, we can call drag. Jesus Christ is the ultimate Lifter, but we can be friends who are lifters. Or, we can become a drag.

I’m just saying: I don’t see why I should get my hand slapped or be spoken to in a gently patronizing tone of rebuke when I refuse to be a doormat. How can anything be fixed without an honest evaluation of the reality before us?

Is it me?

Mom Wants it Now, but God is Patient

What’s causing Mom anxiety this morning? Impatience. My desire for things to be instant. I texted a friend and want a response NOW. I ordered a bracelet and want a confirmation email and a direct message from the consultant. IMMEDIATELY…

Meanwhile, we’re trying to teach our children to hang on to the hope of the future. We’re counseling them that, Though they won’t see it for a long time, the future is worth it. Things will be better and easier. They will make sense. As a mom, I’m telling my kids, Hang on to your faith in me; I’ve been there and done that, I’m telling my kiddos. Hang on to your faith in God, who sees the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10), who is faithful to complete what He’s begun in you, His unique child (Philippians 1:6; Psalm 139:14) And yet… I struggle to wait for a text.

God is patient (II Peter 3:8-9; I Corinthians 13:4,7.) Why do I say that? Because God…is…LOVE (I John 4:8,9, 16.)

It’s not to tear myself down that I share and point out this fault in my soul – impatience. But I have a relationship with myself, too. And as in any relationship, it’s good to tell the truth about what’s wrong. As Christians, we need to let GOD, not emotion lead that confrontation (II Corinthians 7:10.) It’s good to forgive ourselves as Christians for having to confront ourselves, as well as people we love… It’s also good to forgive ourselves, as well as people who’ve hurt us. The rebuke should happen, so things (and people) can change (II Corinthians 7:9-11.) The forgiveness should happen, so the love, which God commanded (John 13:34; John 15:12), won’t be impeded – in ourselves or, in the hearts of those in relationship with us.

Do not Despise the Day of Small Beginnings…

Sometimes talking doesn’t help. Cause the other person is walled off from their own emotions. Talking to them feels like a cheerleader 📣 shouting at a crowd. I grew up with someone close to me who was like that. Only it was worse… Because she always seemed angry at and frustrated with me. She wasn’t, necessarily. But she turned the energy my situation made her feel totally toward me. And because she never explained that to me (maybe never understood for herself, even today, possibly) I spent most of my life being afraid.

I learned I couldn’t talk to her. Because I was afraid…and because I always sensed she was jealous of me, which makes no sense – that is, until you understand (decades later) that she looked at me as just another woman. Even when I was really a girl, she compared herself and my relationship with my boyfriend (now husband) to her and to her self-centered, alcoholic other half.

A jealousy this close – let me tell you, if you aren’t acquainted with your own – is a secret you hide even from yourself for as long as humanly possible. Because it’s ugly. Like being abused, you don’t want to be the subject. You don’t want it to be true. So, you do MORE than pretend; you forget.