Thursday, September 29, 2011

"So No One Told You Life Was Gonna Be This Way"


No, this won't be an homage to the show that many in my generation grew up watching and talking about; most of the relationships there aren't necessarily ones that we would want to emulate in real life, however entertaining to watch. I bring it up for two reasons: 1) it's iconic, and 2) I like the theme song. ;-) Need a refresher?

"I'll Be There for You"
by The Rembrandts
So no one told you life was gonna be this way
Your job's a joke, you're broke, your love life's D O A
It's like you're always stuck in second gear
When it hasn't been your day, your week
Your month or even your year but 
I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too) 
You're still in bed at ten and work began at eight
You've burned your breakfast so far things are going great
Your mother warned you there'd be days like these
But she didn't tell you when the world
Has brought you down to your knees that 
I'll be there for you... 
No one could ever know me, no one could ever see me
Since you're the only one who knows what it's like to be me
Someone to face the day with, make it through all the rest with
Someone I'll always laugh with
Even at my worst, I'm best with you, yeah...
When I was thinking about my post, this song came to mind (and got stuck in my head...for days...). Unfortunately, I only knew the first verse and the chorus, but now that I read these other verses, I'm pleased at how well they are going to make my point for me. ;-)

I've known my DFFs (DeFrumpin' Friends) for a long time - Lauren and I go way back to elementary school and were best friends in high school, and I grew up with Audrey's brother and Amber's husband, though the girls are newer friends to me. We began our daily interactions about 18 months ago as we were all struggling with this season of life as SAHMs of young children. The transformation that has occurred in each of our lives is amazing! From home management to child rearing to marriage to our spiritual walks - all have been affected.

Life before was drastically different! Flashback: the house is a mess, clutter is everywhere, the sink is full of dirty dishes, I'm drowning in laundry, there are crumbs on all the floors, I have a 3-year-old and a baby, I rarely bother to put on more than lounge pants and a t-shirt, I never really have a good handle on what was for dinner each evening, I want to cry every time my husband leaves for work, and my only interaction with other adults is in the nursery at church over diapers and burp cloths. I was on the edge of depression, and I literally asked God what on earth I was supposed to do.

As I began to let down my guard in the newly-formed sewing class led by Audrey's mom for us younger gals, I realized that maybe I wasn't as alone as I felt like I was in my hopelessness. We all seemed to have our weak and our strong areas, but we all knew that something had to change in our lives. Boy, am I glad I got swept up by Lauren's enthusiasm (she's great about that)! We began the next morning de-cluttering and setting up routines and accountability and encouraging each other daily, and it's been all gravy since then!!

Except when it's not......

Believe it or not, a clean house and clean folded laundry don't stay that way. Children that were well-behaved yesterday may act like holy terrors today. The happy marriage and hot husband that you experienced on the weekend may be cooled off by Wednesday. And when everything goes wrong, as Murphy's Law says that it must, the tears still come. BUT...

With friends, I am free to lament, "I'm at the end of my rope!"
With friends, I have someone to tell me, "I'm so sorry! But you are strong, and this too shall pass."
With friends, I know there's someone praying for me.
With friends, there's someone to laugh with me and remind me it's not really the end of the world (even when I lose the blog post that was 75% finished...).
With friends, I gain new perspective and get practical ideas and encouragement to move past the slump.

How important are friends? Well, here are a few verses from the Bible, specifically about the importance of friends:

Proverbs 17:17 A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 18:24 A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.

Proverbs 27:9 Ointment and perfume rejoice the heart: so doth the sweetness of a man's friend by hearty counsel.

Proverbs 27:17 Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.

(Now, please don't get me wrong, as a married woman, my strongest friendship should be (and is) with my husband. Seeking emotional intimacy outside the marriage relationship can be a dangerous affront to the strength of the marriage if there is not a strong foundation of friendship between husband and wife first and foremost. But, I do believe that God does want us to seek and nurture strong friendships with our own sex.)

Do you ever feel like this?
I couldn’t handle the relationships I had in my life, I certainly couldn’t make time for more.  Plus, if I got too close to women who appeared to have their lives together, they’d judge me for the pitiful way mine was falling apart.  No, my role was to give everything I had to my family.

But that was exactly the problem.  I was giving everything I had to my family with nothing to fill me back up- no one to encourage me past the hard spots- and no one to share practical advice because she’d been there, done that.

God shows Himself and gives Himself to us through our friends. Even Jesus had friends on Earth to minister to Him. As a friend, we give to others not only what we can impart to them, but also the gracious way that we receive their friendship.

The quote above is from a recent post over at (in)courage.me (a truly wonderful blog) and it continues with practical ways that friendship can help us:

  • Find a friend who does something well that you wish you could be better at.  It may be cooking, managing paper piles, organizing kid’s rooms, effectively disciplining her kids, or a hundred other things.  Whatever it is, ask her if you could spend time observing how she does what she does so well. Women love to talk about things they do well.

  • Choose a friend with whom you feel comfortable to pray. There is no better gift we can give our family then to be a wife and mom who prays.  Praying with a friend about our families will not only knit our heart closer to the ones we love, but to that friend as well.

  • Pursue a friendship with someone who is one stage behind where you are in life. Offer them practical help in their area of stress and weave in the wisdom you gained as you went through that same stage.
If you are struggling in the area of finding close friends, as I felt I once was, I encourage you to follow these helpful tips and pray. Pour your heart out to God and then allow Him to bring the right people along as you show yourself friendly to all who cross your path. It may be slow, it might even be painful at first to let down those guards, but it WILL be worth it.


 A few closing quotes from some smart people:

But friendship is precious, not only in the shade, but in the sunshine of life, and thanks to a benevolent arrangement the greater part of life is sunshine.
Thomas Jefferson 
Fear makes strangers of people who would be friends.
Shirley MacLaine 

Wishing to be friends is quick work, but friendship is a slow ripening fruit.
Aristotle
{Read more.}



Now it's your turn. What does friendship mean to you? What do you do to nurture those friendships?


I'm linking up here:
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6 comments:

  1. Fantastic post, Susan! The encouragement of close friends definitely can get you through a lot! I'm proud of you for re-doing this post. ;-)

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  2. This is a beautiful post! I could see many of my friends in your words. I guess the greatest gift I give my friends is listening. You sure have made me want to be more intentional in loving my friends.

    Blessings,
    Pamela

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  3. Thanks Lauren! It was a dark moment, I tell ya! So glad to have you girls to understand!
    Pamela, my friends truly are becoming more precious to me all the time, and yes, I also am convicted to be more intentional with them. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Love this post! Friends are the BEST! :)

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  5. Great post, Susan! Such an encouragement and right on =)

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  6. @Audrey Yes, yes you are! :-)
    @Lianna Thanks! I would consider you an excellent example of how to be a really great friend. Such an inspiration!

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