As soon as I knew I would be writing here at Embracing Grace, I knew I wanted to write this post.
Well… I don’t know that I WANTED to – but I knew that I needed to.
You see, I strongly believe in the power of friendship; in being fully invested. I believe in the sisterhood of compassion… in a community of like-minded people living real life, honestly and side by side. I remember reading a quote from LeAnn Rimes recently where she said, “Honesty is a key to living an authentic life… I found that a lot of people walk through life rather than truly living – I’ve been there.” Ah yes… I have been there too!
For years now, I have determined to truly live.. I have a sneaking suspicion that some friends are becoming uncomfortable with me, as I become more and more comfortable in my own skin! I have been on a journey to live out loud – to be real… to be consistent in who I am – wherever I am. Some people embrace that, and some people hold you at arms length – unsure of how to react. But this should not detour us from living who we are; from stepping into all that we feel called to be! I believe with all of my heart that we are called to Be Love and that God, in all His awesomeness, gave us family and friends so that we could learn how to be that. Family was His idea… and friends… well – the Apostle John would tell you He had a few of those as well… or – at least one, right? (John – the one whom Jesus loved… yeah – John was pretty secure in their friendship!)
I live in a small town. The same small town I was born and raised in. I have been blessed with friendships over the years that have stood the test of time (and the tests of the enemy!). Some have been but for a season and we either grew apart, parted ways, or simply got busy with new hobbies and new people. However, it’s those forever friends that test you the most… that see you at your best and at your worst… and that often require the most Grace from you!
To be completely honest, I was hoping to be writing this piece under different circumstances. I had hoped that before I sat down to write, I’d have the chance to sit down to chat with one of my forever friends. Life is busy and wounds are healing and sometimes… well, sometimes we have to extend grace and just be OK with not having all the answers… with not knowing all the why’s or understanding the what-really-happened’s. Sometimes we don’t get the happy ending, all tied up in ribbons and bows!
Oh – we WANT that! Of course we do! We WANT the happily ever after and the movie script ending… we want our friendships to run deep and stay trouble-free at the same time…. we want our kids to live on easy street – always making perfect choices, never having to deal with pain… but this is not reality now, is it?
No – this is not what grows us up, makes us stronger, and tests our faith. Jesus said Himself that in this world we would have trouble… but He overcame the world! Here’s the thing: we can too… when we remember to Be Love and to put our Grace On!
I have lived my life with this precious friend… we have raised children and taken vacations, we have changed churches and addresses and hair styles (and hair colors)… we have laughed until we cried and cried until there were no words… together.
While our relationship has a tendency to ebb and flow… routines change, and priorities shift, hobbies grab hold, and circles enlarge. However – whether we talked weekly or monthly, I always felt secure in the fact that if she needed me – she’d know I would be there… and vice versa. We had fallen into an unhealthy flow over the years, where there would be several months of silence, never knowing why. Grace always covered and Love drew us back… and we would pick up where we left off.
However, something happened… an event that we didn’t plan for and couldn’t see coming. It knocked me off balance and broke my heart… my world was spinning and there were some days that I struggled to just keep breathing. Assumptions were made (on both of our parts); grace was lacking, walls went up. For both of us I think we felt justified in building protection and needing space – and oh how I wish I would have reached out right then and there – with grace in one hand, and boldness in the other. But instead… I smoldered.
I could not believe what was happening – both in my life and in our friendship. I can only speak for myself in how I felt – but I went from being a Mama Bear to extending grace in admitting I would probably have reacted the same way in the beginning. But then time passed and it was no longer the ‘beginning’ and I began to feel abandoned… all alone, carrying a burden too heavy… and I wondered where was the grace? Where was the grace that I needed… that others needed… that we all needed? I began to entertain whispers of the enemy, justifying my hurts. I was wounded… but I am sure she was too and if I am in this thing long term – which I am – then I needed to find enough grace for me – that would overflow and cover her.
The only place that I know of that is abundant in Grace is at the foot of the Cross. As I bowed down under the flow, He did an amazing thing. He did what Ann with no ‘e’ says in her book, ‘one thousand gifts’ – He took a Hard Eucharisteo and showed me some Ugly Beautiful. He showed me a lesson that I wouldn’t have learned had I not walked through this situation with my friend. He actually made me thankful!
A year… it was nearly a year to the day that we didn’t talk.
Remember, we live in the same small town. We go to the same large church. We have kids the same age and our husbands are friends. It was one long awkward, sad, messy year.
I’d love to tell you that I found it in my heart to bridge the gap and reach out… I did not. I was stubborn and only ever so slowly allowing Grace to work it’s healing in me. No – ironically it was yet another event that brought us both to our knees, in prayer, in agreement, together! One heart, one purpose… and God is just oh so smart!
I’d love to say it is all magically better… It is not.
It is better… we talk. We love each other… I know that she knows that if she needs me – I am there.
And even this week when we were unable to carve out time to sit and really talk about deeper things, and get to the heart of the matter… I am leaning in to God and embracing His grace…, extending it to her when I can. I am having to be OK with not knowing the whys… she doesn’t even know the whys.
But what I DO know is that I believe in the power of friendship and I believe in investing fully… I don’t take for granted the history that I have with this friend and I intend to build upon it!
We are all in process and it does us well to remember that! When we are fully invested in the relationships in our lives – we know that there are ups and downs, good times and trying times… but in ALL times – thank God – there is Grace!
What about you, friend? Are you walking through a rough time with a friend? Do you need grace for yourself; for your friend?
How do you invest in the friendships that God has given you and what do you do when you can sense distance creeping in, and wounds festering deep?
May I invite you to join me – under the flow of grace, at the foot of the Cross!
I’d be honored to pray with you.
Speak Life. Be Love. Shine On.