{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 10~An Open Door is Better

We were created for relationship. And I think most of us desire relationship. But we live in a fallen world. A world of hurt and disappointments and unrealistic expectations.

Our relationships are messy. The close ones are never clean and easy. They require effort and grace and forgiveness. When we’ve reached a point of closeness, it’s easy to settle in and feel like we’ve accomplished the task of friendship. As if we can check it off our to-do list. Why would we need more than a few really close, or best, friends?

This is the attitude I’ve had. I’ve worked hard for the few close, trusted friends that are in my life. It’s taken years of living life together. Seeing each other at our worst. Confronting and working through issues even when it’s difficult. Laughing at our mistakes. Listening to heartache. Being together. It takes time and effort to develop this kind of friendship.

And sometimes friendship hurts. A friend betrays. Or doesn’t have the capacity to give what we need. Or we just drift apart. I have felt this sting and it makes me want to close up. It makes me want to hold on really tight to the few good friends that I have and not risk the chance of the sting again.

But this is not what it’s about. The stinging, the pain, the hoped unfulfilled…these strengthen us. They open our eyes to the way of people. If we handle them right, we heal and come out on the other side not broken, but more wise. We learn to be forgiving. We learn to be a better friend ourselves.

And when we come out on the other side and remain open, we allow God to surprise us. Have you ever looked at that woman who is 20, 30, 40 years your senior and wondered if she might be a good friend? Have you ever noticed a college student and wondered if she has something to give? Or something you could give to her?

The answer, if you’re honest with yourself, might be no. We tend to look at those who are in our same demographic or for those who are similar to us. For me, I would tend to look at moms, Christians, women in ministry, who are around my same age. I’ve also tended to lean toward serious, truth talkers who aren’t afraid to talk about deep heart issues. This criteria makes for really good friends but because this was my tendency, I’d narrow the field. I would walk around with a closed door to those who may not fit into this demographic.

I found myself lonely. And needy! I was a super clingy, insecure friend. If my one or two friends weren’t available I was on my own!

I was invited to a birthday breakfast for one of my closest friends and several of her other close friends. Because we were all gathered in one place, she took the opportunity to tell each of us what we mean to her and what we add to her life. I was struck by the variety of her friends. Some really close, some more casual. Some she sees on a regular basis, some she sees less often. Some she’s known for years, some that are newer friends. Some older, some younger. I was so happy for her in that moment. The love that was shared around the table that morning was palpable. I walked away thankful that I was included in such a group. I also felt a twinge of sadness as I realized that I also longed for this depth of relationship. It’s like going all morning without eating breakfast…I’ve been too busy to recognize my hunger for it. And once the hunger was acknowledged, I realized I was famished.

So I made a decision. I decided to be open to different relationships. I opened myself up to be surprised. Soon after that decision, I found myself…

…crying as a woman hugged me and told me she prays for me and sees me as the daughter she never had.

…talking excitedly (and yes, crying again) with a friend who is as passionate about the nations as I am. I’ve also found that we are more alike than I thought and we share other passions as well.

…hesitantly opening up to a newer friend and being rewarded with such wonderful encouragement and support.

…turning a “coffee-date” into a full day of heart to heart connection with someone I just met.

…making new friends…and enjoying it!

Of course, true friendship goes both ways. It will take vulnerability on my part and a giving of myself in order for these relationships to flourish. I love how God matches people together so that we can truly grow and strengthen each other.

I went to a women’s conference this weekend. As I sat there in an arena full of women, I was so thankful….

To my left sat my closest, life-long friend.

To my right, a new friend who’s close already.

In front of me were some of my friends from our worship team and choir. These girls see me weekly…sometimes happy and energized, sometimes emotional and tired. They know my heart for worship and watch my husband and I lead together.

In the row behind was: a close friend who’s becoming closer. A friend who’s life I am so honored to be a part of: her entire life is a miracle. A friend who’s support and love and ability to give is such a challenge to me.

 I think this picture is hilarious. That’s me, 2nd row in the middle, giving the stink eye to my friend, Krista, as she takes the picture.

I feel so incredibly blessed by these women. They are not all my very best friends. Some of them will become better friends, some will continue to be less intimate. But they are all valuable. They all have unique gifts and abilities. And they all have a different piece of my life, a different perspective of who I am, a different piece of my heart! I am more open now to God adding people to my life. And through each person, through each of their gifts, He reveals a bit of Himself to me.

We were created for this. For the complementing of each other. For the strengthening and encouraging of each other. Together we are more equipped, more prepared. Together we are stronger!

 

This post is part of the series {31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way}. Did you miss a lesson? Catch up here.

2 thoughts on “{31 Lessons Learned the Hard Way} :: Lesson 10~An Open Door is Better

  1. Hey!No one commented yet.This mirrors my own journey of needing real friends and only looking to my own demographic.How narrow-minded.I think we all do the dance of trusting, guarding, launching and protecting.Ultimately, the risk of making new friends pays off more times than not, but almost always in ways we never expected. Sure love doing life with you. You are a genuine, loyal, encouraging, honest and fun friend! I am better because of you in my life!

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  2. Wow. Wow, wow, wow. Wow. This is so true. And I KNOW it's true… like, I KNEW before I read it that it's true. But, something about seeing it in print, reading your heart in the words, makes the truth seep in and saturate. I'm sitting here kind of blown away. (And I LOVE that pic!!!!!!!)

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