Closer Than A Brother
A few years ago I changed some significant things about myself. One of the things I realized as I went through those changes was the importance of having friendships. Developing good friendships takes energy, space, time and a whole lotta grace. But if there is one thing I continue to learn as I age, is that I do need others. Greatly.
I wanted to share some things I learned. Things I learned while laughing, some I learned while shedding tears. Others I learned after processing some anger.
For years I expected too much from the friend. I thought that I had to have one best friend, and that she must be perfect. We would agree on everything, like the same things, be there for each other, and our schedules would always match. We would both love to shop and exercise the same and we would enjoy the same books and movies. We would agree on every political and social issue and understand each other’s careers completely. We would discipline our kids the same and vacation similar and think the same about men. She would understand my crazy schedule and be there for me when I had time and vice versa. After all, she was my BEST friend!
Have you snorted yet?
The more you get to you know your closest friends, the more you get to know yourself. You realize that you require grace. You realize you can hurt others, are sometimes selfish, and are sometimes prideful. In other words, you realize how human you are.
So what is the beauty in this?
Friends are an amazing way to grow. In a previous blog “Find your Five” I wrote about the importance of your inner circle. You must have a close group of friends who can encourage you, challenge you, and see you for who you can be, not for who you are. Friends are a reflection of what is beautiful in you, and what needs some adjustment. They can see when your crown is a little crooked, and they can also see what looks great on you. They are mirror into your soul.
When I opened myself up to having more than one friend, I realized how amazing the friends I had were. I stopped having unrealistic expectations of the ONE friend. I realize there was no one person who could be perfect and fulfill all of the ridiculous expectations I had. And it made me realize how important it was for me to have diverse friends.
I have friends who are introverts, and ones who could dance on tables and jump down and high five me like it was a normal thing haha! I have friends who are democrats and the staunchest republicans you can imagine. I have friends who are stay-at-home moms and ones who work 90-hours a week. I have single friends, divorced friends, married friends, and friends who I don’t know what to call them haha.
I have friends who share my religion, and those who don’t. I have friends who are doctors and ones who would faint at the sight of blood. I have friends who are 20 years younger than me, and ones who are 20 years older. One of my friends, who I have just begun to get to know, is almost 35 years older than me. I adore her. She has taught me some pretty important lessons and continues to do so. One of my new friends, Deb, who is pretty amazing, recently told me something brilliant; she said, “Always have friends who are younger and older. Your life will be better for it.”
I have friends who are blunt and know when I need a swift kick in the tush and to stop wallowing. I also have friends whose words encourage me when I am low and speak truth in my ear gently as they pick me up.
I have an inner circle of friends. I don’t have ONE single end-all-be-all friend; I have many. And I am so very grateful for that fact. I feel blessed beyond measure. Having several friends allows me to not put so many expectations on one person. It allows me to be so richly blessed, and to change. Please stop feeling guilty for spending time with your friends. This is about as ridiculous as feeling guilty for exercising.
If you have friends, they will need space and grace. You will let them down at times, and they will disappoint you. In fact, the closer the friends I have, chances are the more I will disappoint them and vice versa. But they are SO worth it.
If you don’t have friends, look inside you. Chance are you have some walls that you have built that are hiding your very best parts, the things that will allow someone to see and help you adjust. You are worth having friends. Do you believe that?
I leave you with my favorite example of friendship. When I am angry or when I have let a friend down and I’m not sure how to proceed, I think of these two women. I also think of two things: space and grace.
My grandmother’s closest friend since junior high was named Marge. Despite Marge living in Alaska for several years, she and my grandmother maintained a close friendship through divorces, the loss of children, and widowhood. They talked frequently if not daily, and traveled together for years. In fact, when my grandfather died, Marge and her husband sold their home in Alaska and she and my grandmother bought neighboring land and built homes next to each other at the age of 65! Why? Marge’s answer was simple: my grandmother needed her.
They were complete opposites. My grandmother loves diamonds and irons her sheets. Marge lived months in a tent, fly-fished, grew her own food, and could skin a deer. My grandmother sleeps in until 10 am, and Marge was up at 530 am each morning. She would wait to call my grandmother each day until she saw the blind go up, it was their sign that it was ok to call. They spoke every day, took care of each other when they were sick, and spent over 70 years encouraging, laughing, arguing, and crying together.
When Marge passed away two years ago, a part of my grandmother died too.
One day I asked my Grandmother how Marge and her were so close while so very different. She looked at me and said “Sasha, we chose to see the best in each other. Always. Marge knew me best, and loved me anyway.”
Maybe there is someone you want to establish a friendship with. Maybe there is a friend you have wronged. I know I need space and grace. So do my friends.
Be brave enough. Reach out.
You will be so blessed.
Proverbs 18:24 “…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”