9.17.2011

friendship list

friendship {one}

friendship {two}

friendship {three}


now that autumn-like weather has arrived, i am taking a lot of walks these days. the three above photos were taken during the walk i went on two days ago. it was such a beautiful, clear day... a little brisk, but perfect for walking, as the warmth of the sun melted the chill away.

while on this particular walk, i found myself thinking so much about friendship. {isaac had fallen asleep, so i had plenty of time to think.} i've been learning many things about friendship recently... some the hard way... some the not-so-hard way. i've taken a deeper look these past couple of weeks at the friendships i have... or what i consider friendship, anyway. and i have held them up to the light of what i have come to know about friendship... through time, experience, teaching, example... even through the written word, whether bible verses or novels or the published letters and thoughts of others... like c. s. lewis {he said some of my favorite things ever said about friendship}.

i think this holding up of our friendships to the light of what we know about friendship and what it should be is a really good thing to do every now and then. it could save us from becoming taxed or exhausted because we are inadvertently trying to force a friendship to happen that just can't for one reason or another... and thus, save us from the pain of disappointment.

i am a very social person, and because of that, i think i sometimes expect that i should be friends with anyone who will let me. but that thinking has done me some harm. perhaps i have not been careful in discerning who would be good for me when it comes to deep friendship. people generally would not marry or date every personality type that exists {you are drawn to a certain type}... in the same way, we also would not {or should not} make friends with every personality type. so i am learning that befriending and letting yourself be befriended is not much different than the love you seek from and seek to give to a mate. much like the way you would look for a mate {or allow that kind of relationship to blossom}, you would look for a friend... in that they should have the same {or at least similar} standards and expectations as you. if not, it will almost surely fail at some point.

i went through a great deal of hurt when someone told me they could not be my friend because my expectations of the friendship were too high or too many. the reason it hurt is because i felt that we were dear friends before this was said to me. so when it was said, i was confused... why did it take so long to tell me that? and if true, why did i feel like the "bad guy"? why was i feeling like it was wrong for me to have such high or so many expectations, even if it were true? it took a while, but i came to realize, it's okay to have high expectations. it doesn't make me wrong... nor does it make wrong the friend that said they were too high. it just makes us different. upon realizing that, another thought came to mind... "i'm not surprised my expectations are high or numerous. i have a few friends in my life, as well as a husband, that set that bar so high... it is what i have become accustomed to."

this really helped me {along with the advice and affirmation from my husband on the matter}. i no longer felt like i had done something that was so wrong as to end a friendship. i no longer wondered why what was hurting our relationship couldn't be talked about until understanding was reached and why forgiveness couldn't be lavished. i just realized that if my expectations were too much for that person {by their own admission}, we were not a good fit. i honestly feel that i should have realized this sooner and been the one to reveal it to myself, rather than have it revealed to me... because being told something that i should have seen on my own is what made it hurt so much... if i had seen it myself, the love for this friend would not have grown so deeply, and then it would not have been so heartbreaking to hear those words. i would not have let myself come to see this person almost like a sister... or come to consider her family like my family.

there have been many friends that have come and gone over the years... due to different seasons of life. it's a natural part of life, and so i have always been perfectly okay with that inevitable occurence. but i had never been told by someone that they could no longer be my friend because my expectations were too high. i truly did not know how to receive those words... and i still grapple with them. unfortunately, i had to read the words, so they still tend to read over and over again in my mind in black and white.

anyway, all of what i went through ended up being good for me... helping me to see what i want and need in a friend... helping me to see that i already had all those things in many of my relationships, and that those are the friendships i need to cultivate and protect. so that is exactly what i started to do.

and today, i had so many affirmations of all this through the words of friends near and far... friends from various walks in life... friends at various levels... some very close, some new and not as close. but all with words that spoke to the very thoughts and ideas that have been pervading my thinking these days.

so i went to find my photos from two days ago so that i could add these quotes about friendship... just a few of many that i really like. "sheltering tree"... "constant proofs"... "rarest faith"... i LOVE these ideas and qualities in friendship.

i am truly grateful for friends. they sharpen me. they inspire me. they make me glad. they help me to know myself a little better. they let me know them. they make me want to be a friend... not just have a friend.

that's why my list of forty today will be the things i cherish and protect in friendship... in the friendships i now have {i speak of close, deep friendships}... the things i want to be, but not just want to be, but hold myself accountable to {and hope that my friends will hold me accountable to as well}... the things that i strive toward and want to become better at... these things...

communicative {being communicative is the most important thing, in my opinion, even if done imperfectly, because without communication, none of the other things in this list could keep the friendship thriving or alive}, dependable, honest, free from jealousy, supportive, reciprocating, loyal, enthusiastic, forgiving, forgetting, able to say things that are not easy to say, approachable, available, welcoming, compassionate, able to laugh with, able to cry with, able to be sad around as well as ecstatic around, able to rejoice with and equally able to mourn with, teaching, teachable, patient, kind, understanding, helpful, trustworthy, open, uplifting, able to share just about anything with, able to stick by when the other is at their worst, true to their word, defending, not too easily offended, willing to look at their self when they have offended to see if they were wrong so as not to offend again, sensitive, promoting, able to be told... in love... when they are doing something that is hurtful to the friendship, willing to change a habit that is hurting the friendship for the sake of the friendship, sacraficial, devoted to the friendship... so much so that when one or both fails at anything in this list {but both make it clear that they want to protect the friendship} there can be forgiveness and letting go and moving on and getting up to try again.

that last "item" on the list is a BIGGY, because like the first thing on the list {being communicative}, the friendship can't last without this characteristic coming from both sides. i know i fail in several of the other areas of the list between the first and last items. but with the people i hold dear and genuinely consider my friends, i practice this last aspect. it's another way of saying "i'm not giving up on this". if one or both has to say "i give up", i wonder if the friendship ever truly existed. and if it did, i wonder if better communication would have prevented {or at the very least, resolved} what went wrong.

this all sounds very much like what it takes for marriages to survive. i know it's a tall order! {and it's not even a complete list!} some would say these are too high of expectations in friendship. but what i am realizing through this list {which i strive to be and hope to have in a friend or friends} is this... though it may be perfectly acceptable to be friend-ly to many or most people, it does not mean we have to  BE a friend to many or have many friends {as in close, loving friendships}. i have had to learn this the hard way, i'm afraid. but that's okay. i would rather learn it {as well as what i am looking for in friendship} the hard way, than not at all.

more than anything, i have learned this... friendship is a two-way street {or path... to use the terminology from the last quote above}. i know that the friends i seek and find and with whom i allow a friendship to blossom, i can say this about... i want to be around them. not necessarily constantly or regularly. but i want to be in their lives. and i make that clear. from now on, however, i am going to honor my expectations about friendship by only wanting that for so long... only as long as they show that they want the same. at this point in my life, i have learned {the hard way} i simply won't try to make those people want to be in my life. they either do want to or they don't. and if they do, as i do... if it is mutual, grass will not grow in that path of friendship.

this is freeing. for me. and for those i call friend.

10 comments:

hi kooky said...

I too have had to learn where to draw lines. How to let certain friendships be less close than others. Not due to fault on anyone's part, but just because that's how it goes. Once I realized that - and learned to let friendships be what they are (some deeper than others)- life got a lot easier. And I found that my circle of friends actually enlarged.

You have a big heart and you care deeply. Cherish the deep relationships and cherish the not-so-deep ones too. They all make life wonderful!

I love your friendship words. :)

georgia b. said...

thanks, jen. i agree... even the not-so-deep relationships are integral parts of our life and learning and fulfillment. but i just need to learn to discern which ones are which, and not try to make the not-so-deep be the deep. wishful thinking, i guess.
=)

Deborah L. Tisch said...

Georgia,
After reading this post I shared it with my own daughter. We have had many important discussions over the years about friendships that change, that fade away with time. And we've talked about relationships in which the other party does not hold the friendship in the same manner, or does not value it the same as we do. The lessons of friendship can be some of the hardest in life. You addressed it so beautifully here. I appreciate the stand you have taken, and how you define friendship.

georgia b. said...

thank you, deb. i appreciate your comments. i agree... about the lessons of friendship. but they are worth learning, because they refine our list of what relationships we can truly value. and that makes those friendships that much more sweet.

Kim said...

This is really a brilliant post. I love every word if it. It is very much how I feel most iofthe time. I need to read more of your blog, because you and I sound very similar.

georgia b. said...

thank you, kim. {we are both illinois-dwellers, too!... something else we have in common.} =)

The Velvet Trunk said...

Oh girl, you know I feel your pain...literally. There are some things in life that make no sense, but the good friends that come alongside us right so many wrongs. And the good friends will fight for us. So funny how what we wanted in a guy we now realize we need in a friend....

You love with your whole heart, and such a true and genuine heart it is. You're special, Georgia, and the rest of us who are still in your world (even if a long way off) are better for it. You are wonderful!! xox

georgia b. said...

thank you, frirend.

Stacey said...

I can so relate with this post, Georgia. We are so alike! I have a very similar experience with a long time friendship that ended last year. I still think about it and wonder what it was that I did wrong. Thank you for your honesty and sharing your heart.

georgia b. said...

thank YOU, stace.

eeeeek.... i'm gonna meet you in a matter of hours! how cool is that????