Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Be the Person...

Just last week, my best Louisiana friend flew in to spend 5 days with our family.  She booked her flight early in the year so we had a while to wait for her.  From the moment I picked her up at the airport, everything seemed just like it was for all of our years when we lived just minutes apart.  It was a wonderful.  It was perfect.  It was like nothing had changed.

But, things HAD changed.  Almost 7 years ago, we left Louisiana and moved 12 hours away to Florida.  In a single day, we left behind our home of 7 years, our closest friends, our jobs and everything familiar.  The people I saw several times per week were now relegated to Skype calls.  We kept in touch via Facebook, blogs, phone calls and texts.  I remember a particular day that was so difficult.  It was Jonah's 4th birthday.  We had been in Florida for 10 months.  I was about to host his first party without my faithful party crew who had been there for the previous three parties.  I missed their help.  I missed their love for Jonah.  I missed them.  I sat down in my living room and cried.  

But, the craziest thing happened.  My new friends showed up to celebrate Jonah.  My new friends jumped in and helped me with the party.  My new friends smiled with joy as he opened gifts and blew out candles.  My new friends played with his new toys and stuck around to clean up.  My new friends were there.

That night, as I reflected on the day, I realized that while things were different, they were still good.  It was possible to love more than one group of friends.  It was possible to have your heart connected and intertwined to more than one "best" friend.  It was okay to have memories and moments with one group that are solely reserved for them while making new memories and having great moments with other friends.  Friendship isn't based on location but instead the willingness to open your heart to give and receive love from another.

As a pastor's wife, the thing I hear most about church is how people are lonely or haven't made a strong connection or they don't have friends there.  My question is ALWAYS the same.  Who have you befriended?   Who have you reached out to?  Who have you invited out to coffee?  Who have you sent a card to just to let them know you care?  What event have you signed up for just to get to know people better?

It is so easy to sit back and look at what others aren't being for you or to to count the number of Instagrammed play dates you weren't invited to or to notice who sits next to each other at church while you sit alone.  People...don't sit at home lonely.  MAKE THE FIRST MOVE.  Invite someone to lunch.  Invite them into your messy home full of laundry to be done and dishes in the sink.  Ask them to go to a movie after the kids are in bed and the hubbies can stay home with them.  Send them texts to spark conversation.  Comment on their FB and Insta posts.  Show interest in them.  I can't say it enough and I don't mean to sound like a dating website but you have to take risks if you want genuine and authentic friendship.

Back in 2012, I had a pretty major surgery. I was in bed for 12 weeks and it was hard.  I was missing so much of my kids' lives.  I was sad.  I was lonely.  But, the most beautiful thing happened.  My friends showed up.  But, not only my friends, people I barely knew showed up.  What that said to me was "I care.  I'm here for you."  And, the craziest thing happened, some of those people are my closest friends today!  They showed up with food.  They showed up with magazines.  They showed up with offers to hang out with my kids or take them to play.  One person even showed up and said "listen, I don't have a hospitable bone in my body but I can lay next to you on your bed and tell you everything that has been going on!"  And, she did.  It was medicine for my soul.  Every single one of them took a risk.  They gave me their time.  They gave me their energy and encouragement.  I will never forget it.

As a result, I try my best to do that every opportunity I get.  I've found myself delivering meals to people I barely know.  I've sat next to new people at church.  I've offered to meet them at the nursery then walk with them to their class.  I've picked up their kids.  I've sent them notes in the mail.  I've left flowers on their doorstep.  I've invited them to meet me at the park.  I've invited them over for play dates.  And, let me tell you...some of those exchanges have been AWKWARD.  Some have been plain weird.  Some have had me walk away saying "we are NOTHING alike!"  But, some...oh, some of them have been some of the sweetest blessings of my life.  The friendships that have come out of those intentional moments have become treasures to me.

This popped up on my Instagram feed today and resonated SO deeply with me.

How different would your life be if you took the risk rather than wallowing in what you are missing out on?  Go on and do it.  Buy some groceries and drop them to someone you know who is feeling bad.  Invite someone to meet your crew at the park.  Plan ahead to sit with someone at church.  Get involved in a Bible Study or Sunday School group with other families.  Send a note to someone you hardly know telling them something you admire about them or a quality they possess.  If you're lonely, fix it.  

I'll tell you, I was so sad putting Amanda back on that flight last week.  That girl knows me.  She gets me.  We laugh until we cry when we are together.    We've wept for the other.  We were there for the births of our first boys.  We have history.  But, just a few minutes after getting home, a new-ish friend showed up at my house.  She called to invite me to dinner but with Dan out of town and the kids' exhaustion from the day, I asked if she would come to our house instead.  I broke out the paper plates.  We had leftover pulled pork.  My house was a wreck.  My boys were crazy.  But, we too have history.  She's not Amanda.  But, she's her.  And, more important, she's here!  And, crazy enough, she took the initiative to get to know me.  She reached out to me and basically didn't let me say no to her first invitation.  She took a risk and I totally benefitted from it.  Hashtag Blessed!  (wink)

Now, go do it.  Go be the person you wish someone would be for you!!!  It's worth it!


Amanda said...

Love you! I'm so thankful distance doesn't affect our friendship and that we're just as close as ever. Perfect post!

Aja said...

So glad you opened yourself up to new people, or I wouldn't have you as a friend! Still remember that first day you came over to my house for coffee...😄 Love you!

Barb said...

Good words, and quite appropriate for me at this time. I have been lonely. I have been feeling disconnected from people at church, at work, basically everywhere. But you're right - I can't expect others to reach out to me, I need to reach out to them. I'll try to take your advice!


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