“Are You My Friend?”

marymarthaDo you ever look around and wonder who your friends are? I sometimes do. I’m naturally introverted, and yet the combined effects of several relocations, caring for two special-needs kids (and now my mother), and endless work-related social media interactions (I’m an editor) have depleted my little black book on those rare occasions when I’m craving a girls’ night out.

Yesterday I was discussing this with an author friend who happens to fall in the category of both professional and personal connection. She has met my extended family, and made rosaries for my kids. I’ve slept at her house, and call her whenever I’m in her area to get together.

Apparently this sense of rootlessness is something that many women experience. She also made me sit up and take notice when she identified what is often the source of the problem. “There are persons, and there are personas,” she reminded me. “When you are a writer, you cultivate a persona that you let out into the world … but it’s not the same as the real you, known to your real friends.”

The moment she said this, a light bulb went on. Do editors have personas, too? Of course! So … how do I set aside the persona and let the “real me” out to play, to establish real friendships?

Interestingly, my friend’s first suggestion was … silence. Spending time together in silence, “until the uncomfortable silences become comfortable.” Of course, this isn’t something that can happen on Facebook, or in any other social media venue. It takes physical presence. It means stepping away from the computer and inviting others into the messiness of ordinary life.

This is risky, of course. I’ve had women — from church, for example — who have reached out and made an effort to connect with my daughter and me. It always surprises me a bit, to experience such kindness, knowing that I’m not really in a position to reciprocate meaningfully. What is more, the way my life is set up right now, it seems almost impossible to set up regular get-togethers. And yet, this is exactly the kind of effort true intimacy in friendship requires.

The topic of friendship is very much on trend these days. Emily Jaminet and Michele Fahnle’s The Friendship Project is being discussed in book clubs and parish women’s groups across the country. Elizabeth Foss published True Friend, a four-week devotional to help kick-start friendship in your own life.

And yet all these wonderful books won’t do a bit of good unless I’m willing to venture into that scary territory of vulnerability and initiate contact. Invite someone over (or invite myself over) for a cup of tea. Strike up a conversation with someone at a bookstore who is carrying a book I’ve recently read. Even (*gasp*) take that water aerobics class for us grannies-in-training and chat up the friendly looking lady on the kickboard next to me.

Because every decades-old friendship begins with the touch of a real, live person.

 

Advertisements

Day 18: Longing

40day-yellowBegin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Today’s theme is longing. It is desire that seeps deep into our bones, into the deepest recesses of our hearts. And yet, this feeling does not originate in the human heart: It is placed there by God, to give us a foretaste of the depths of the love he has for us. It is this same longing that is characterized by the last paragraph of our daily prayer:

Into your hands I commend my soul;

I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,

For I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,

To surrender myself into your hands without reserve,

And with boundless confidence,

For you are my Father.

Marriage can be lonely, especially in times of stress  when it can be easy to pull away and turn inward. And yet, we were made for companionship, for union. If at times we cannot get what we need from our spouse, all is not lost.kerry olson wicklow road

We can offer our longing back to the One who designed us for communion, and know that he will never leave us alone.

When was the last time you felt alone in your marriage? Discuss it with your spouse, then ask . . . What do you find most comforting when you feel alone and long to feel truly loved?

40 Day Challenge, Day 18: Longing

kerry olson wicklow roadBegin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Today’s theme is longing, characterized by the last paragraph of our daily prayer:

Into your hands I commend my soul:
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord, and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands without reserve,
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father.

Marriage can be lonely at times, especially in times of stress. As each of you cope, it can be easy to pull away and turn inward. And yet, we were made for companionship, for union. If at times we cannot get what we need from our spouse, all is not lost.

We can take our longing and offer it back to the One who designed us for communion, and know that he will never leave us alone.

When was the last time you felt alone in your marriage? Discuss it with your spouse, then ask . . . What do you find most comforting, when you feel alone? How can I ease that longing for you?