Happy April Fool’s Day!
Because I’m not writing this post on April Fool’s Day, I’m going to bypass the nonsense and write a serious post. I know, what a shock coming from me.
My bible study is currently doing a study on boundaries called Boundaries: When to Say YES, When to Say NO, To Take Control of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend. THIS IS NOT A RELIGIOUS POST, I’m simply providing context. I thought it might be helpful for you all to understand why this particular topic is on my mind.
Boundaries is a thought provoking study and one I wish I’d read about twenty years ago. For those of you who are Christians and have young adults in your life, I’d highly recommend this book and the accompanying study. But I digress…
We recently discussed the section on friendship and in a group of approximately twenty women it was a lively debate. When I looked back over the years and analyzed my friendships, I realize I’ve become much more selective in choosing and maintaining friendships. When I brought this up to the group, we all (a group of women ranging in age from mid-30’s to mid 50’s) realized the same.
I had a college roommate who was a very close friend. We don’t live near one another and we used to talk on the phone every few months. I used to wonder why I felt so dissatisfied after every conversation, but never gave it much thought until she called my son by the wrong name. I have two children—one boy and one girl—and she couldn’t remember their names? After this lightening bolt moment, I realized the only time she called me was when she had something to brag about—new job, new car, new home, whatever. Other than those times, I was calling her out of a sense of obligation.
I suspect this is when I first began weighing my friendships and cutting off the dead weight. Now that I’m writing, I have to judiciously organize my time so I’m not frittering away the day on people who add nothing to my life when I could be adding words to the page.
Which leads me to a question for our WU readers: How have your friendships changed in the last 20 +/- years? If you’re too young to answer this question, do yourself a favor and read the boundaries book!
Two years ago I joined a Bible study. (This is not going to be a religious post, so don’t get your panties in a wad. I’ve got a point to bringing this up and it doesn’t involve trying to convince anyone that my religion is the best). Anyway, I joined this group of women from my neighborhood and we meet once per week during the school year to study the word and for fellowship. I agreed to join the group when my friend called because I’d just switched my kids to a Christian school where they would be studying the Bible and I thought it would be handy for me to know a little about what they were learning.
I won’t bore you with the details of my religious upbringing, but suffice it to say I had some studying to do. I didn’t know what to expect from this group or how I would fit in. Our neighborhood is very large and pretty diverse—from cultures to backgrounds to personalities—and this group was no exception. To my great surprise, at the first meeting we all introduced ourselves and discussed our experiences and I wasn’t the only one who’d be asking a lot of elementary level questions. I felt instantly relieved and welcomed.
These meetings were long. Three plus hours long. I sit at a computer for most of the day, but never for three hours at a stretch. My ADD and nervous energy won’t let me stay put for that long so those meetings took some getting used to. What surprised me the most about the long meetings (where I left with homework!) was that I looked forward to them every week. I enjoyed unlocking the secrets of the Bible, but more than anything I enjoyed the bonding and fellowship with my neighbors.
I’m a pretty solitary person. I’m a happy hermit with just me and the dogs and my family for long stretches of time. It wasn’t until I joined this group that I realized how much I’d missed being a part of something and sharing in other people’s joys and sorrows. The older I get, the harder it has become for me to reach out and really connect with people—especially women.
Maybe it’s just my age or stage of life, but I seem to bear a lot more burdens now, not just mine, but those of the people I know and care about. I know I’m not alone. Now, instead of feeling sorry for myself when something goes wrong in life, I take my troubles to this group of women and feel as if I’m doing something constructive. Sharing things, even intimate and personal things with a group of women I trust, has become very important. I almost forgot how much when I finally managed to make one of our rare summer meetings.
I guess my point in this post is to encourage you to reach out to others. It doesn’t have to be a Bible study. Go out for cocktails, join a book club, take an exercise class. Don’t get so set in your ways that you forget how important it is to share both the good and the bad with others. I wouldn’t have reached out if my friend hadn’t called and asked me to join her. Thank God she did. If you get a chance today, let me know if you have a special group that lifts you up. For your sake, I sure hope you do.