The Death of a Friendship

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For almost the last year I have been grieving the gradual death of a friendship, trying as I might to revive something that just is flat out dead. The reality of that death hit me hard this weekend, much like any death would. I had to come to the very real and grave decision to let this friendship die. Several friends I have discussed this with over the course of the year were encouraging and supportive, where this friendship had been concerned, allowing me to talk through it and fight to sustain it.

We don’t talk much about this really, as we grow more into being seen as having all these friendships, connections and followers in our social media world. I see books pouring out about connection and engagement, craving it with one another. That is good y’all, I really do champion that. But I think we forget the ugly side of it too, that some friendships do die, even after years of relational contact. Some glide away, rolling in and out like the tide on a lazy day at the beach.

But some? Well you find yourself grieving and worrying, pouring too much and not enough into, and finding yourself being torn further by keeping them alive and sustaining them. But it must be done. Some times that means we are the ones who have to kill it. We have to put it down to put it out of it’s misery, and quite possibly our own. You shouldn’t be filled with regret after leaving time with that friend, ever. That’s not a friendship worth keeping alive.

If I am filled with regret after time spent with this friend, why do I continue to allow this friendship to stay alive?

That’s the question I had to ask myself yesterday. It’s the one I have consistently had to ask myself over the last year of seeing this friendship die and going back with the paddles to bring it back to life. Dear friends would say, “It’s for the best, let it die.” I would champion on, trying to find redemption, pointing to times where encouragement and respect were at the forefront. But those snippets were small and distant the longer this friendship continued on life support.

The greatest gift we can give ourselves is the ability to grieve something like this, and then move forward from it. Just as I talked about One Way Friendships before, I think we have to be a friend to ourselves first in order to realize that some deaths are inevitable in friendships, and that we can be better from it. I saw that over the course of this year I have forfeited some of my very own words, truth and love in order to give life to a friendship that should have had the plug pulled.

Grieve the loss, but don’t let the nostalgia of a seasonal friendship deceive you into thinking it’s a lifelong one. As has been said before, some friends are here for a reason, others for a season, and still others for a lifetime. But for our own good, and the good of our other friendships, don’t try to make one of those into something are not. Allow them to die, grieve the loss, and forge into relationships meant for you in your season, for whatever reason, and pouring into those lifelong ones which enjoy all the stages of life, even the grieving of death.

A Single Thanksgiving

Over the last few years I have celebrated Thanksgiving without the family. There’s been one or two thrown in over the last decade where I spent it with my sister and her family, but for the most part it’s been solo…and that’s been okay for me. For several years I used that as an opportunity to serve in the local rescue mission-preparing the dining room and then serving the meals to the homeless. It is something I really enjoy doing, and hope many of you choose to spend your day doing as well (but go serve there in January, April and July too).

This year is different. The parental units have foregone their annual beach sojourn to be at home…and the kids are coming home. Yep, no solo Thanksgiving prep this year. I’ll get to assist the master chef herself (my mother) in prepping everything with her fancy new stove Santa just dropped off.

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So I thought about those years I spent solo at Thanksgiving and thought I’d share some tips for my fellow singletons (and their family and friends too) for this upcoming holiday.

  1. It’s okay if you want to do Thanksgiving solo. It’s okay if you have no plans and no family or friends around that you want to spend the day with. If you’d rather have T-Day your way…let me be the first one to tell you, that it’s okay.
  2. It’s okay to NOT want to spend Thanksgiving solo. If you are yearning for company, swing open those doors my friends and invite people to your place. Or share with others that you are spending it alone, and you might get an invite. For several years I got invited to friends and friends’ families’ homes for Thanksgiving. I had let them know I was going it solo and I do believe there was pity on their part. But that’s okay. You are fine if you want to go over (take a side or dessert, do NOT go empty-handed) and spend time engulfed in someone else’s world.
  3. Families and friends: please do not ask about the dating world to the singleton. This is the last thing we want brought up because breaking news, WE KNOW WE ARE SINGLE. The dinner table, or the couch in front of the tv with football on, is not the place we want to discuss why we are single at holiday time.
  4. Have an attitude of gratitude this Thanksgiving, even in your singleton state. I have friends who are trying to balance multiple stops with kiddos and tense family situations on short notice…that’s their reality. Yours (and mine) is a single life that permits us to choose to check-in and check-out of the holiday spirit if we so choose…but we must be thankful for the current situation whether we are choosing it for ourselves or not.
  5. Families and friends: if you know of a singleton this holiday who might be spending it solo, offer up a seat at your table (or couch). They may not be able to get home on this short holiday weekend, or they may be without family, and really don’t want to impose by inviting themselves. Extend the gratitude, and fill them in on the fun you put in the dysfunction that is every single family in the world.
  6. Lastly, use this as an opportunity to revel in the delight that is this season of gratitude and thankfulness. No matter what your choice is or where you find yourself celebrating. You get to choose as a singleton and the choice is always thanksgiving.

 

Singleness and Social Media

Babies are filling up my social media these days. And wedding announcements, engagements and hands held high with mouths in shock.

“He liked it, so he put a ring on it!”

“Excited to announce the newest arrival!”

Spring has sprung the nesting and additions to families all across my friendships.

If I am honest, as this is occurring and I am diving deeper into a healthy relationships with my church family it would be easy for me, the single gal, to slip into an ugly place of sin and discouragement. To find myself seeing what I don’t have and what others do have. To covet. To find jealousy lurking in the depths of a heart not in tune with God’s truth for me. To see depression set in once more, a true depression of the entire body where I shut myself off and shut myself down accepting this life as it is now.

Last week I talked a bit about questioning why we are in the place we are in. And I do from time to time, especially when these life celebrations begin to fill up my life for everyone else, but myself. I started to realize that it wasn’t about them but the state of my heart, and my relationship with God first before it ever got to my relationship with them.

You see, if I am loving God with all that I have (mind, heart, emotions) with everything I got (strength) even in my sensibilities and will (soul) then I am not focused on the others. My gaze isn’t on the scrolling screen of “good life, good wife” mentalities but on the One who gave His life so that I might be in this relationship with Him. When I lean into Christ and what my relationship is with Him, I don’t leave space for coveting because I know without a doubt in my head or heart that I am overflowing with gratitude, love, joy. When that happens, again and again, and I live into that truth for my life instead of the truth the world is trying to craft for me that I need to be this person or in that relationship, fruit develops. I bear out lovingkindness, peace, patience, goodness.

This is fruit for others to enjoy, for me to give away and not allow to sour or rot on the vine. Alot of times I want that fruit for myself, but when He points us to loving others as we love ourselves that means giving away what has filled us up-the good stuff, His stuff, HIM.

He pushes out all the other that I find I sometimes want to live in and loll about in on a quiet Friday night. But He’s right there, ever-present, whispering truth that my relationship with Him is filling me so that I am not growing into what the world thinks I should look like as a single lady but what He has defined for me to be as His.

So I can celebrate weddings, births, new jobs and adventures of friends with a heart full of joy, gratitude and love. For them. For myself. For Him.

Light and Momentary

Light and momentary.

That is what our present troubles are to be viewed as in our lives.

I wish I viewed them that way. I wish I had the perspective (and encouragement) that Barnabas had when he looked at the disciples they were making in Antioch. Upon returning he shared with them that they “must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.” (emphasis mine)

I think many believers could echo that sentiment today. You are going through a hardship that doesn’t seem to be ending. It’s all-consuming, debilitating and crushing. But Barnabas shares this as a one-off, to continue on in the faith they have been sharing throughout the area they were in.

Then I come to Paul’s words, a companion of Barnabas on that exact trip, that tell us how he considered suffering. How he viewed it with a lens that is not easily applied. Paul tells us that our present sufferings-from medical issues, to depression, to loss, to heartbreak-aren’t even worth comparing in light of our future that is being revealed in us. “It’s not even worth mentioning” is how one text translates this.

For me, that’s hard to rectify. Suffering, and I am talking true suffering here, is shared and talked through. I don’t believe Paul is saying we keep quiet on our suffering, our brokenness and hurt, our pain and loss. I do think he’s pointing to a new perspective on it for ourselves and for others. That we shouldn’t dwell too long in it at any given point. We shouldn’t live in the hopelessness of it, the defeat of doubt, fear and anger that can overwhelm our thoughts.

But when we look through the lens of eternity-the glory and goodness of it-this suffering isn’t a blip on that. When we see what is revealed in us and through us about the God we love, it’s hard to bring the suffering up to the equal footing of comparison.

Paul isn’t making light of suffering, for he knew it’s history all too well as he wrote this at the end of a his third missionary journey. He knew of what the Romans were experiencing, and to what lie ahead. Yet he rounds out this section with the assurance of the Spirit. He helps us in our weakness, even as we groan inwardly in our suffering. The Spirit knows, even when we don’t. And as Paul wraps up the present-nature of suffering with the future-state of glory, he gives us this gift that things (all things in fact) work for the good of those who love God.

Yes our suffering, whatever it may be and where it may take us, works for good when we allow it, when we view it from the rose-colored glasses of eternity.

 

A Love Letter to My Friends

When I was little I could rattle off the names of my friends for a good four minutes. In high school I had friends that spanned across social circles and between the varying high schools in my city. Even into grad school in my mid-twenties I found that I had a multitude of friendships that criss-crossed the nation and life experiences. Now here I am in my mid 30s (yeah I had a birthday a few days back) and I am finding that those I call friends are narrow. Don’t get me wrong, I have a ton of people across the globe whom I would define as friends but allow them to fit into this lens of acquaintance friendship rather than the close-knit friendships I have with several these days. I think when we are younger we are figuring out who we are and where we fit socially. I know for myself I discovered that having people in different social groups or even at different high schools to be friends with provided some different perspectives and experiences for me. I gleaned alot and allowed myself to figure where I fit and if I wanted to fit into a specific mold. In my teens, and even twenties, I wanted to learn so much I found I wasn’t really developing who I was or getting a definition of what life was for me. Lately though as I have taken some time to reflect on friendships, I have discovered it’s not about the quantity of friends I have that matters to me now but the quality friendships. I am more intentional about those I cultivate and those I allow into this sphere of life. I do believe community is key to living life, especially a life of faith. A common misconception by people is that a single woman has the time to have numerous friendships and keep them all in balance. I have to fess up to you all that’s not the case for the majority of us. For me I value a quality friendship that means time and intentionality. More recently I found that in the midst of a situation I had an inner circle of people that I knew would be there in support, encouragement, prayer and counsel. I knew they were genuine when they asked about me or how I was doing. It wasn’t for gossip (because there are those friendships that are purely one-way and feeding the drama monster, so beware) but for support. Sunday as I stood with a friend who is going through her own situation and prayed over her I couldn’t help but be thankful for that friendship. And the one who stood to my right, who I didn’t even know this time a year ago, that has been such a force of spiritual guidance and leadership over the last eight months. As I prayed for my friend, knowing she had stood in the gap for me over the last couple of months praying, I could not help but praise God for friendships such as these. Where we aren’t in competition with one another, we don’t cut one another down or seek to impress but merely stand shoulder to shoulder to do battle for them and pray down heaven’s healing for them. It’s those friendships that go beyond the margins of note of thanks…to the phone calls after a rough day at work to the celebration of a new season of life for one another. Over and over in the last few weeks I am reminded that friendships are forged in the fire of adversity, in grief and heartache. It’s those friends that turn into sisters and brothers, that go beyond the boundary line to fight a battle with you in the trenches because they value you and who you are, not what they can get from you or what you do for them. Never more have I seen Proverbs 17:17 lived out than in the last few months of my life, and I have to be so very thankful God placed each of these people from different life moments into my story for such a time as this.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. -Proverbs 17:17

I pray you have those people in your own life, those few that are quality friendships. The ones who will stand with you in battle and also keep you accountable in situations and relationships. While it may not look like much in number, they make up for in might, spirit and love.

Hard Friendships

“How honest can I be in this conversation?”

A friend and I were recently having a conversation and that was the question posed to me.

That right there is why we are friends, and why I trust her with the questions I war with. I value her friendship, especially in these moments. Moments when I need raw truth I can count on her to provide it.

This time it was needed. I had found myself pondering a question, the same one I had four years earlier. One that I had promised myself I wouldn’t ask again. You see we revisit what we haven’t fully addressed in our lives.

I believe this with my full heart. That when we allow a relationship or situation to go unaddressed, we will come back around to it. It’s a cycle. And this particular day I found myself right back in that cycle. Questioning my own judgement of a situation and the actions of another. Wondering why I yet again allowed myself to get sucked in.

The conversation with the friend didn’t last long because she gave it to me straight. It was a truth I knew deep down but I needed someone to speak that truth into my life in such a pointed way. Otherwise I’d circle right back around on this cycle.

So I decided to be truthful with myself once and for all. What does that look like in this instance? A heart struggle. Honesty. Rooting out doubts. Facing fears. It means I stop lying to myself, the hardest thing for any of us to do. It means I stand up for myself, my heart. It means facing myself and no longer listening to the lies that suck me back into the cycle. It also means rooting out a friendship that has been long standing, but damaging. It means a clean break off without excuses or apologies. It means radio-silence with someone that I have long since called upon as a friend.

Simply because another friend spoke truth that I couldn’t hear any other way. That is true friendship. Friendship that will look at you and tell you the hard stuff, when you don’t want to hear it but you know it in your heart. This friend is the one to keep. The one who checks the mask long ago and speaks real life, and welcomes the same without anger or resentment.

Thankful that there are friendship like that which exist, and I have not one but a couple that I can trust to do just that in my life. Now to speak that same truth into the lives of others in such a way that I would honor them in return.

Top Five Friday-Fair Fun

So the Tennessee State Fair opens today, and I am looking forward to going this weekend. I grew up in an area that had a fair every year around the time we went back to school (and a certain race) . I loved it, and we went every year. There’s one very prominent memory of needing to potty but we had already gotten back to the car (which was in a field) and mom wasn’t about to trek back in so I could pee. So we made a makeshift private bathroom with car doors and someone standing in front of me.

You’re welcome for that story on a Friday.

So here we go…my top five favorite things about fairs.

1. The Fried Things. I mean really…who doesn’t love deep fried stuff? From Oreos to Snickers to Banana Pudding on a Stick (yes you read that right). So I’ll be watching what I eat all day before heading there tomorrow.

2. The Rides. I am a ride fanatic, and I miss Dollywood badly now that I live in Nashville. But the trick is to enjoy this before enjoying #1…trust me on this. Although I don’t do the ferris wheel. I have ridden it once and will never ever get on another one thankyouverymuch.

Photo owned by Sara Stacy
Photo owned by Sara Stacy

3. The People You Go With. I do love my friends and family but it takes a special group to go to the fair. They have to have a sense of humor and enjoy the fun that is the fair. If you go with the wrong people, you’ll be done in an hour and sad that you missed out on the fun factor. I have been lucky enough to enjoy the fair year after year with some amazing people, who get my sense of humor too.

4. The Races. Oh goodness. They have monkey-on-a-collie races. They have duck races. They have pig races. You name it, I am game for it. LOOOOOOOOVE them.

5. The Pageant. We stumbled upon this phenomenon last year at the Wilson County Fair…the pageant circuit. I cannot lie, I was enthralled by it. I mean it was like the show Toddlers and Tiaras was playing out right in front of me. I could not look away. I am pretty sure I got some evil looks from parents when I giggled at their children flouncing about the stage in their satin and bows. I sure hope the Tennessee State Fair has one too.

 

So what’s your favorite thing about the Fair? Do you have a Fair where you live? Do you go? Share below! I promise to post photos of the awesomeness post-Saturday night.