Saturday, May 23, 2009

Being VERY Real...and a little raw

My first remembrance of "being part of the group" goes back to grade 2. I think it actually started with a reader. In the classroom, we were divided up according to the reader we were working on and "our group" had all skipped a reader. 
I can recall a few of the names: Andrea, Kelly,(best friends that were just plain sweet), Allison,  Dianna, (the pretty girls, that I loved so dearly...those 2 names remained at the top of my baby name list until I married Mark and it was discovered we had very different images of who those names represented), there were one or two other girls, a boy who 's name also escapes me and our beloved David V. We all had crushes on David and would try to sit next to him if we were watching a movie...being in grade 2, the boys were as quick to terrorize us girls as they were to play Star Wars with us at recess, (we all wanted to be Princess Lea as well). My school friends of that time, knew me as Janice the "life of the party girl" the parents told my mom.

Then there was Lisa...I am not really sure what it was about Lisa, she was a little more gangly, a little bit loud and "rough", but pleasant. 
For whatever reason, we would not let Lisa be part of our group outside the classroom...she was always the outsider looking in.
One day as we ran through the many paths in the woods surrounding our little school, hiding and playing tricks on Lisa, I "saw" her for the first time. All I remember is a sad looking face, desperately chasing us, hoping she could finally join in.
It literally stopped me in my tracks. I finally saw what we were doing and how our actions were affecting Lisa. Then I spoke with the others, I really don't remember the conversation, just that we were in a little clearing in the woods that was our "club house". Whatever was said, it caused all of us to rethink how we had been playing and having fun at another's expense.
We all remained tight, but we also became more intentionally inclusive. We apologized to Lisa and allowed her to play with us finally. 
After that day, my memories of Lisa are of this huge smile she always wore. She had a terrific smile, was fun to be with and smiled easily.
The childhood fun of those next couple of years still included "my group" but I also remember play-dates and parties that included many others and to be honest, I think we were all  happier for it.

So much has changed and many years have passed since those care free days of grade 2. Tucked in the bottom of My Raggedy Ann and Andy trunk, remains a little card box stuffed to overflowing with letters, cards and notes from these first childhood friends; but many moves and transitions since that time have caused me to lose track of the friends themselves.

Over the past couple of years, my family and I have been faced with many changes, transitions, life altering and often heart wrenching decisions. We have taken risks, walked by Faith, tried to count the costs and taken leaps into the great unknown. These changes have come about in almost every area of our lives...those that come with having 4 children at very different stages of life; we have both faced opportunities, risks and ultimately wonderful changes in our working environments and we have faced transition and change in our personal/church lives, titles and rolls as well.

In all of the life lessons, stretching, growth, joys and yes, heartaches that we are still forging through; there are some that remain highlighted to me at this moment.
One that I just can't seem to get away from is the joy, loss and heartache that surround friendships.

I have made an eye opening discovery that particularly as women, we are still very much like that little school yard group of friends.
I think we can get so busy that it is just easier and simpler to make and keep relationships with the ones who are running their path within our circles. Those we see and rub shoulders with daily or weekly.
I also think there is a part of us that receives value and validation from those who are running on the same or a similar path.
Personally, I don't think there is anything wrong with having close circles of friends, even based on being part of the same office, neighborhood church or non church group.
There is a problem though, when we can't slow down long enough or look deep enough to see the "outsiders". The ones who are standing there watching, or have chosen to run a different path...the ones who might even have run in our circle at one time.

It would be unrealistic to think we could all befriend everyone and life's changes will cause acquaintances to come in and out of our lives...but what about the ones we call friends?
"Friend" is a term I hold very dearly and no longer use broadly.
In all of my transitions and life changes, I have discovered that true friends are very rare indeed. There have been times that I thought I had many friends, but when the path has changed or become steep and filled with rocks and potholes I have come to realize that I have had many acquaintances. People, who when our paths do happen to cross naturally, will tell me how much they miss me....but who have not missed me enough to pick up the phone or purposed to have our paths cross.

I will admit there is a deep wound in my heart from these discoveries. There is a part of me that is still that little girl on the playground where life was simple and everybody learned to play together even when we worked in different groups.
I am trying to allow God to heal that wound and to keep my heart from closing itself off from the people and friendships that have been part of the pain because I know if I do close my heart off, it will be sealed  from the joys of true friendship as well. That is a risk I am not willing to take...maybe I am a little cautious right now, but ultimately, I still believe in happy endings...I can't help it, that is who I am.

In all of it though, I am also learning some very valuable lessons. I am learning  how to be purposeful in my friendships. I am no longer in the same circles with any of my friends, so our paths rarely cross naturally.  I have learned that there are friends who are worth the effort of purposefully causing our paths to cross.
I have learned that the true value in any of my friends has nothing to do with the circles they are in or the path they have chosen.

I am learning to give grace to those who aren't able to stop and see the value in me or maybe others, or are not able to put the effort and even risk into those relationships...because I too have been too busy or focused at times.

I have learned to value the friendships I have had, for whatever period of time I have had them and to be very thankful for those who at one time or another have held my hand through a storm...and to let those go who just can't do that right now.

I have learned to find my validation in Him, because when you lay down the titles and positions of your life or choose to walk a different path all together,  He may be the only one left...and He truly is enough.


jennifer said...

very powerful i can relate i was the one on the outside looking in not now that i have my dear blogging friends

Amy said...

It is so very difficult feeling like you are on the "outside" whether you are 8 or 34. Whether it is at school, work, church, organizations. I have had a post like this waiting for quite some time, but have been unable to post it. I, too, have been living this out for the past 1-2 years. Thanks for sharing.

Williams Family Blog said...

Hmmmm.....very real. Thanks Jen,...thinking, thinking, thinking a lot about this one.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Alot of thoughts, both spoken and unspoken. Thanks for being raw and real. Wouldn't want it any other way.
Relationships are a gift, a treasure an worth fighting for.

Shaun and Holly said...

Relationships are important to me. Sometimes I need to be challanged to make sure my actions are lining up with what I say my heart.

I am sorry for your pain in walking though some of this hard stuff. I am thankful that you have had a measure of His grace and I pray that you have an even grater measure of His sweet healing for your heart.

I love you!

Patty said...

Hmmm...I so agree! When I became a home schooler my "path" changed from nearly all of my friends & I saw this happen too. It wasn't just sad to see this in my friends but to see it in me as well. :( Can't address what we don't see though, right?

Thanks Jen,for your encouraging words on my blog. I had no idea how much this adoption process would mess with my mind & my heart.

Sarah said...

wow I really now that feeling. I like knowing you can relate