“Sorry, I’m just not that into you”

February 25, 2010

 

Recently a few of my friends brought to my attention that I’ve neglected my Facebook account  (i.e. no photos or updates, no response to requests). So last week I logged on and discovered 26 friend requests that had gone unanswered and more than 100 event and group requests waiting. Oops!  I suppose I have been MIA for a while which is why I think it’s time I explain myself…

Facebook, it‘s time we clear the air…

When we hooked up in the summer of ’08 it was fun, a novelty, something to pass the time.  But to be honest, I grew tired of our relationship rather quickly.

No, no, no, it’s not that we don’t have anything in common; we actually have  a lot in common including many of the same friends and acquaintances. I like our mutual friends, really I do. But you’re quite the social butterfly (it’s just who you are) and well, you know I’ve always been more of  an introvert. That’s why the time and energy it takes to keep up with you is a bit much for me.

I know it sounds cliche but really, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

I want you to know I really tried to make it work–to return your emails and respond to your requests. But in the end my inability to keep up with you led to procrastination and well, for me procrastination often leads to avoidance…

Yes, that’s why I’ve pretty much stopped responding to your requests altogether.

No there’s nothing you could have done differently.

To be perfectly blunt, right now I have other priorities I need to focus on. Please don’t take it personally. I think you’re great, really great. You’re full of personalities and you have a lot to offer this world and all of your friends. I’ve no doubt there’s someone (or several million someones) out there who are right for you. I’m just not one of them. At least not right now. Which is why I think we need to change our relationship status.

Yes, I suppose my feelings could change, anything’s possible. But, for now, I think I should make it clear…

 Facebook, I’m just not that into you.

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Words to Live By

February 23, 2010

 

In my last post I talked about different love languages. Although we may favor one love language over another all of the languages can speak to our heart. 

 In my opinion one of the most powerful love languages is Words of Affirmation. No matter our primary love language we all still need words of encouragement and love spoken over us regularly. The problem is we’re often too busy and  we miss opportunities to bless others with an encouraging word. Or, we’re hesitant because we don’t know how it will be received or if it will seem awkward.

 I like what Henri Nouwen has to say on this topic …

 When we talk to one another, we often talk about what happened, what we are doing, or what we plan to do. Often we say, “What’s up?” and we encourage one another to share the details of our daily lives. But often we want to hear something else. We want to hear, “I’ve been thinking of you today,” or “I missed you,” or “I wish you were here,” or “I really love you.” It is not always easy to say these words, but such words can deepen our bonds with one another.

Telling someone “I love you” in whatever way is always delivering good news. Nobody will respond by saying, “Well, I knew that already, you don’t have to say it again”! Words of love and affirmation are like bread. We need them each day, over and over. They keep us alive inside.

Who needs to hear words of encouragement from you today?


Could I get a translator please?

February 21, 2010

 

                                          

 

 

 

 

Scene: It’s early on a Saturday morning in 1996– only a few months after Scott and I were married. I’m sitting on the couch drinking coffee in the living room of our very small one bedroom apartment.  Scott’s been busy moving about the apartment since he got up, which was an hour before me. The dishes are done, the bathroom is clean and the washing machine is working on its second load. Now he’s moved onto his next task.

Me: What are you doing?

Scott: (With one eyebrow raised, as if to say, what do you think I’m doing?)  The laundry.

Me: (sighing) Yes, I can see that. Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee with me?   

Scott: Well, I just thought I’d get a few things done around here.

Me: (disappointed) Oh, ok. If that’s what you want to do...

Now before some of my girlfriends email me and say, Disappointed? The man did the dishes, cleaned the bathroom and was folding laundry. Why in the world  were you disappointed?  Read on

One of my favorite relationship concepts comes from a book called The Five Love Languages. It’s been around for a while and it’s a simple concept (simple is good for this brain of mine).

Here are the basic premises of the book:

1) Each of us has a primary way we like to have love expressed to us, this is called our “love language.”

2) We tend to express love the same way we like to receive love.

3) We feel most loved by someone when they are speaking our love language.

4) Two people may be expressing their love to each other and yet they may feel unloved because they are not speaking the same love language.

5) Knowing the love language of those people to whom we are closest…

…can help us to better communicate our love in ways that are meaningful to them and meet their needs

…can help us to interpret and appreciate expressions of love that are made in another love language

For those who aren’t familiar with the book here are the five love languages:

Words of Affirmation: You feel loved when people speak encouraging words to you and verbally acknowledge your efforts and worth.

Quality Time: You feel loved when people spend focused time with you. 

Gifts: You feel loved when you recieve gifts and small tokens of appreciation that are specifically chosen for you.

Acts of Service: You feel loved when others do things to help you.

Physical Touch: You feel most loved and connected with significant people in you life through touch. It can be a simple as a pat on the shoulder acknowledging your presence in the room.

According to Gary Chapman, the author of The Five Love Languages book, we tend to give love and measure the depth of another’s love for us based on at least one or two of these categories.

For me it’s easy to look at that list and identify my two main love languages. If you can read between the lines of that scene between Scott and me I bet you can figure out at least one of my love languages and one of his. If not, here’s the scene with “subtitles” ….

Me: What are you doing?

Scott: The laundry.

Me: (sighing) Yes, I can see that. Why don’t you sit down and have a cup of coffee?   [Translation: Why don’t you sit down and spend some time with me?]

Scott: Well, I just thought I’d get these things done. [Translation: I’m doing these chores so you don’t have to work so hard on your day off.]

Me: (disappointed) Oh, ok. If that’s what you want to do... [Translation: I guess you’d rather do chores than spend time with me.]

Yep, we were speaking different languages from the start!

What about you? How do you express love and how do you like for those around you to express their love to you?

More importantly, what are the love languages of those closest to you?

There’s something to be said for studying their language and then speaking it often.


A Friend Like This

January 16, 2009

The following email message was waiting for me this morning.

  

  

Claire and Ella are cordially invited to a play date and sleepover at our home next Thursday…their “limo” (aka Envoy) will arrive around 3pm in the afternoon on Thursday and will deliver them back home on Friday after lunch.  We will not take NO for an answer…they are being personally summoned by 2 cute little boys who want a play date, and their mommy who wants to give her sweet friend some quiet time.  This is on the calendar in ink so we pray it works for their busy schedule!!  =)

 

Now, you men may not get just how much a gesture like this means but most of the moms I know do. And rest assured fellow moms, I know just how blessed I am to have a friend like this.

 

 

I know there are moms out there who live far from family and close friends and they wish they had someone like this in their life. Just the other day one of the mom’s at the Wellness Center was lamenting over the fact that one of her closest friends is moving up north.

 

Friends who know you and know when and how to reach into your life with acts of love like these are not always easy to find. Friendships like these take time and effort to cultivate which is why this gesture means so much. Yes, I’ll love having some quiet time for myself next week. But, what I value even more is my friend and the fact that she’d sacrifice her time and energy for me. Not surprisingly, in the ten years that I’ve known her, this friend has taught me a lot about true friendship.

 

Today I pray for all those moms out there who need a friend like this in their lives. And more importantly, I pray that you, Lord, will show them and me how to be a friend like this for someone else.

 

 

A friend loves at all times,

and a brother is born for adversity. 

Proverbs 17:17

 

 

 

 Note: Those 2 cute boys are 4 years and 10 months old. I’ll take advantage of the sleepovers now because when those boys get older and Claire and Ella begin to think they’re cute the sleepovers will cease ;-).


A Better Friend

May 16, 2008

 ***

Before my mid-twenties I was never really good at being a friend and maintaining friendships. Since that time I’ve been on a huge learning curve trying to learn what it means to be a friend and how to let someone else be a friend to me.

 

There are several reasons why I never really learned how to be a friend in my youth.  At the root of it was a lot of insecurity and mistrust based on some bad experiences (especially with female friends). The insecurity kept me selfishly focused on whatever activity in my life at the time made me feel valued. Kind of hard to be a good friend when you’re so focused on yourself. The bad experiences with female friends kept me from opening up to other women and risking their rejection.  I’m quite sure both my insecurity and mistrust resulted in my hurting others (males and females alike) who tried to befriend me. That fact grieves my heart.

 

Although I struggled with being a good friend and trusting other women I secretly longed for both. Besides longing for friends to hang with, I desired women friends that God could use in my life to help me grow in my faith. Perhaps that came from what I believe is a God-given desire I have to encourage and build up other women in their faith and in the love of God.  Still, I didn’t start to reach out beyond my friendship comfort zone until well into my twenties. 

 

***

When I said I’ve been on a huge learning curve I meant it. Learning how to be a friend meant I had to take risks and taking risks means sometimes you fail. I’ve failed many times. Fortunately, God has placed in my life some really gracious and loving women who love me no matter what. These women are a gift to me and I’ve learned not to take their presence in my life for granted.

 

I’m grateful for these friends all of the time. However, around this time each year I’m reminded of what a gift they are to me. At this time each year we begin planning for our annual weekend away at the beach. This is a weekend trip we’ve taken each summer for the last six years. It’s three days without work, kids, husbands, clients, housework and computers. Well, most of the time there are no computers :-).  And it’s three days with lots of laughter, food, drink, conversation, quiet and even some tears.  

 

Lots of women take weekend trips away with their friends so you might be wondering what’s so special about this trip and these women.  It’s simple. With this group of friends I have persmission to be who I am (warts and all) and they accept me. They accept my quirks (including my competitive spirit) and they still love me. With this group of women I am free to be myself. That’s just not something that happens naturally in most groups of women.

 

Of course that doesn’t mean there aren’t expectations of me. But, they’re good expectations and they’re expected of each of us. I don’t know that we’ve ever formally recorded these expectations but I thought I’d try to articulate them. If my friends need to step in and correct me then I’m sure they’ll do so. Here they are (in my own words):

 

1.  Be real at all times. No masks or false piety allowed in this group.

2. Allow others to be real–to share their weaknesses and expose their flesh 

3.  Be willing to admit your weakness, “die to self,” pick up your cross and follow Jesus 

4. When necessary, lovingly refer others to rule #3

5.  Be willing to let others point you to rule #3 (sometimes others can see things in you that you can’t)

6.  Do what you can to help your friend carry their crosses. Especially if it involves a bottle of wine, some good cheese,  and a shoulder to cry on :-). Yes, I know that’s probably not the best way to help someone carry their cross but it’s not a bad way to ease into the more “spiritual” approach! 

7. Receive the things the others say and do in a spirit of love, cooperation, and idealism

8. If you’re hurt, offended, angry, or disappointed with the group or an individual in the group, trust us enough to come to us so we can work it out. In other words, be real, transparent and don’t fake it (see rule #1).

 

This is what I expect and what I believe is expected of me in this group and these relationships. Of course we don’t do it perfectly. But these are our ideals and we keep trying even after we’ve made mistakes and failed to live up to them.

 

 ***

We’ve had our share of conflicts and made our share of mistakes as individuals and as a group. Over the years we’ve had personal and theological arguments. We’ve unintentionally wounded each other with our words. We’ve known the sadness of losing someone from the group while holding out hope for healing and restoration someday.  Sometimes we hide from one another because we can’t bear to show our weakness or vulnerability. Usually that doesn’t last too long and we’re learning not to take it personally.

 

Recently I failed to be there for one of my friends to celebrate one of her greatest joys because I was caught up in my own pain.  Instead of harboring her disappointment she had the courage to share how I’d hurt her and then turned around and comforted me in my pain. What love and grace she showed on that day. Love and grace are what makes these friendships work. They overcome our imperfections and allow us to grow and know the peace that comes with humility and reconciliation.

 

We’re far from a perfect group of friends. But it works. And I’m so glad it does. Through this group of women I’m learning a lot about what it means to love and what it means to be a friend at all times. I can’t imagine my life without them. I’m hoping I never see that day. But, no matter what may happen in the future, today I am a better woman and more like Jesus because of the influence of these ladies.  And slowly but surely I’m becoming a better friend.