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Maybe it’s just me that thinks so; I suspect not. Men’s friendships are sooooo simple. And not very satisfying. Men make friends based on shared hobbies or work or exposure. They generally don’t go real deep – just being together counts as a great get-together.
Women’s friendships are a whole ‘nother animal; so much more complicated. Complicated enough that they have levels, or go by rules of how many fingers you have on your hand, or what season in life you’re in. Having moved around the country for the last thirty years, women’s friendship is something that’s been of interest to me. It’s puzzled, confused, and wounded me, especially when I was given a schooling on how someone’s circle was already complete and there was no room for me. It’s also surprised me at times when I wasn’t expecting it to pop up, or grow. When I’ve been warmly encouraged to join in with what I expected would be a closed group.
I read an article in the paper this week (written by a woman, of course) that brought a lot of light and freedom to the whole subject. Maybe it’ll interest you? She started by saying:
“Not all friendships are meant to last forever.” Well, Amen to that!
The author said what we’ve all heard – that friendships are for a reason, season, or lifetime.
Reason – might be the club you join, or sports your kids are involved in, that sort of thing. You share that activity or event but not much else. Nice light friendships. You don’t get a whole lot out of them, but not much is required either. Everyone needs some of those.
Season – a mom’s play group might be a godsend when you have two or three toddlers. I have a daughter who is involved in MOPS and is greatly blessed by it. I could have used MOPS back in the day. When I worked full time, or part-time it was a blessing to have a few friends who also worked, and would take some time now and then to go shopping, to lunch, to fit in some girl time when we could. Now that we’re retired I am thankful for the friends I’ve made who also have retired husbands. Our schedules match, our frustrations and joys match, our calendars match. It would be hard for me to have close friends whose husbands still work and they are available all day long.
Lifetime – the ones you can count on your fingers, likely on one hand. And you may not need the thumb. I’ve had some dear, dear friends – we were so close while we were involved in the ‘reason’ or ‘season’ that it felt like we’d stay in touch for a ‘lifetime’. But when you have miles between you, and you get involved in your new life it’s awfully hard to stay in touch with those you left behind in a way that will sustain the friendship at the same level it was before.
Oh that we could give each other the freedom to move on – open our hand to let go, little by little, of those ‘reason’ and ‘season’ friendships, being thankful for what was. Knowing they will move on too, to other reasons, seasons and lifetimes.
Those few that take up the fingers on one hand? They don’t need nearly the maintaining the others do. You can go months, even years without talking or seeing each other, and when you do you just pick up where you left off. You know you treasure each other.
We’re blessed with so many ways to stay in touch these days; it’s just a matter of putting some friendships down completely, popping in to say hello and keep up with what’s going on in each other’s lives for the others, and learning what to really cherish. I’ve made the mistake of approaching a new friendship as if we’re going to be joined at the hip for life; seeing the whole ball of wax differently is like a breath of fresh air for me.
How about you? Has anyone out there struggled with this? Are you one of those who agrees that having 200 ‘friends’ on Facebook or Twitter doesn’t do much to comfort when your heart is hurting? When you need a real live, breathing person to sit across the table and share a cup of coffee and her heart? Have you completely figured it out? Or maybe you’re still just hoping and praying for that ‘reason’ or ‘season’ friend. What are your thoughts?
My daughter, Sarah, gave me yarn, needles and a book – How to Knit Socks – for Christmas. So we drove 2800 miles to and from Pittsburgh and I knitted and knitted and knitted.
It’s hard to say which I’m the most happy about…. I’m tickled to pieces over this. All three of our kids have versions of this gadget, and at their advice we went with a Keurig. I’m in love with the Chai Latte and at only 70 calories and about 50 cents it’s a bargain both ways, compared to the same offering at Starbucks.
The coffee isn’t the point (although it does make me really happy). The labels! Isn’t life just better with a good labeler. I read about one in January’s issue of Real Simple magazine and picked one up at Target this past week. I totally copied the label one of our kids has on their coffee because it makes me smile every time I read it.
Then there’s this – Don took our under-stairs closet and converted it into a pantry for me.
It’s right off the kitchen and right inside the garage door, where the groceries come in 🙂
Here’s his finished work. He even put two hooks on the right side for me to hang my purse and take-to-town bag. Here it is after we stopped at Walmart with my list. Just about anything you’d like for dinner I can whip up now. It’s easy to see if we’re low on TP or paper towels or such. Potatoes and onions moved out of my pot drawers – so much better.
I keep telling him, he didn’t need to be so cute. I would have loved him anyway for his handiness around the house.
Comment number 19, Cheryl, who is building up a collection of cookbooks and promised me she would encase it in a ziploc, won! Cheryl, if you will send a mailing address to my email on the sidebar, I will pop it in the mail this week. Enjoy!
Remember when I mentioned , on my 2011 reading list, that I would be giving away some books? I was referring to fiction mostly, but I just went through my cookbooks. When I realized I was only referring to two recipes in ‘Paula Deen and Friends’ I thought it was a good one to give away. To a better home. One that will really use it.
If you think you might splatter the pages with gravy, and smear them with butter (Paula would love that!), leave me a comment. I’ll draw a name next Tuesday, 1/18 and promptly send it on its way to you.
The two recipes I copied? Shrimp and Grits and Shrimp and Wild Rice Casserole. A theme going on I do believe.
It was so much work, just to make it in the door, her walker banging and bumping against the frame. While she was settling into the chair by the check-in desk, I asked her ‘how are you today?’ She lifted her head, looked at me and said, ‘I don’t feel very good today.’
I saw dull eyes and a weathered face. The smell of her breath coming across the desk at me made it hard to speak for a minute. I told her I was sorry, and asked what was wrong. She told me she wasn’t getting over her hip surgery from six months ago as fast as she should and she’d already fallen twice. She was way too young to have had hip surgery, to be using a walker, to have such sad eyes, to reek of alcohol mid-day.
At a meeting of volunteers the week before, we’d been reminded ‘Be Jesus to those who come through the door.’ I might be the only kind voice she heard that day, so I asked her questions, encouraged her to talk to me, and listened to her. A voice that lacked any enthusiasm. Hopelessness.
When I asked her if she was there for food, or clothing, or both, she told me ‘just food.’ In spite of the raggy clothes she was wearing it would be too hard for her to get up and move around the clothing rooms, so ‘just food.’
Fifty years old, skinny, worn out, stringy dirty hair, dull eyes and a face that did not have a shred of hope showing on it. How did she get here? What string of days and years and bad decisions and circumstances and lack of possibilities got her where she is today? How do you reach a point in life where your eyes are that dull? Where there is no hope of anything beyond a next meal? When you don’t really care much about that?
God, help me be Jesus to her, just for a moment. Help me make her feel valued and given dignity in spite of anything and everything.
There but for the grace of God go I.