Monday, July 28, 2008

Grown-Up Girlfriends

You weren't meant to walk through life alone. . .
but how do you find faithful friends who will make the journey with you?
I've finished reading the book Grown-Up Girlfriends by Erin Smalley and Carrie Oliver. I read it slowly one chapter at a time, leaving days between to absorb and think about the content. It is essentially a book about how to be a genuine friend and all that being a real friend entails. I think it would be a wonderful study option for teen girls and young women.
The thirteen chapters covers everything from identifying who might be a grown up girlfriend for you, to understanding the differences between women and resolving conflicts. I expected to read the book and have my soul soothed for past hurts but instead I was challenged to think about my own areas of weakness and mistrust. The two friends that wrote this book share their own story of friendship and I smiled often as I thought about my thirty year relationship with my friend Kathy.

The other day on the boat we talked about how our relationship began and the times that the sea seemed a bit rough. We talked about how much we are the same, truly kindred spirits and the time it took to really understand each other.

I cherish this relationship because it has been tested and we have learned to constructively resolve our conflicts and where there was hurt we truly forgave and found reconciliation.

In our early years of friendship we were nearly inseparable. We met in 1979 and we had our babies within months of one another nurseing them side by side day in and day out. We lived within a few blocks of one another and then in the summer of 1986 we moved next door to one another. In 1986 when the Space Shuttle disaster happened I rushed over to her house so that we could watch the coverage together. I learned to drink coffee at her house, and we would often say in the morning, come over for dinner. We attended the same church and had many of the same friends.

When my husband needed to go into the Vancouver for cancer treatment she and her husband stood vigil, babysitting and helping with meals.
Sometimes though too much of a good thing can become the problem itself. Looking back, we can easily see that the moving next door to one another was probably our biggest challenge. Jealousy, insecurity and mistrust bounced back and forth over the fence and though we never completely withdrew our friendship from one another, it became strained.

They eventually moved to another town and we moved to the farm. For a time the phone calls were less often, but our love for hospitality never stopped and dinner at each others houses, always a treat still happened several times a year.


Both of us wanted the relationship to work and by God's grace we slowly grew to the friendship we enjoy today.

I appreciate and value Kathy's perspective. Our different life experiences are a treasure chest for each other. I had boys and she had girls. I can glean wisdom from her and I know that she also wants to learn from me. I know that she wants our family to succeed, she hopes the best for us and I also hope that for her family.


We don't push each others buttons anymore. . .
oh if I could take back the times I did that.

I am amazed at God's goodness in this friendship. So often while I was reading this book I felt God nudging me in areas that I still need to grow up in other friendships. Every relationship that we have is a bit different because we relate a little differently to each person. Just because I can get my act together with one friend, doesn't mean that I have it all together in all my friendships.

While I am using Kathy as a real life example in my post today there are other relationships that I still need to work on, places where I need to allow God to change my heart. I really can honestly say that God is not finished with me yet.

As I read the book, I felt encouraged, challenged, a bit defeated, disappointed in myself and increasingly more determined as I read the questions at the end of each chapter.

That afternoon on the boat, Kathy and I talked about how occasionally someone will still ask us individually if we see each other? Clearly the question reveals and indicates that our friendship in its infancy stage was visible to other friends.

I've wondered at times at my personality. The book talks about this as well. Until we understand ourselves and identify the condition of our hearts and our motives . . .we'll keep walking in circles in our relationships. We need to understand that our capacity to love others comes from the Lord and not our own creation.




It is so hard to admit fault isn't it? Whether your challenges are with your spouse, children, extended family or your friends, you want it to be better .. . .don't you?

Maybe reading this right now, a relationship with a girlfriend comes to mind and you feel hurt or guilty . . and wonder if your friend feels the same. You might wonder if reconciliation is possible. I pray for you that you will be able to resolve your issues as far as it depends upon you.

I have found that I like myself more since I've done some attitude adjusting in my expectations in various girlfriend relationships. Since I've purposed to give grace where before I nursed hurt, where I once chose to be cynical I now try to be trusting, I feel more at peace.

The girls that wrote this book really do seem to have their relationships figured out. I admired their honesty and their frank discussion in their many examples.

I shared with Kathy that I felt led to write about this topic but I wondered how I would do that without talking about specifics, implicating others. The authors talked quite specifically in the book about various relationships. Kathy graciously gave me permission to talk about us. I thought, wow, how kind and how trusting of her to give me the freedom to tell about our friendship from my perspective.

She shares my hope that young women can learn to enjoy grown-up friendships avoiding the pitfalls that so often plagues relationships. She agrees that when God truly is the center of a relationship, it is a wonderful thing.

Learning to be gracious on both ends of the friendship on the journey is a dance and an act of selfless love.

The rewards that comes with being a friend like the Bible talks about are profound.

Knowing that someone is really happy for you when you are happy. .
knowing that someone is sad for you when you are very sad. . .
knowing that someone is willing to take your phone call even when they are busy ..
knowing that someone chooses to listen and tries to understand your viewpoint even when it is different than her own. . is an incredible blessing.

This book has also helped me to understand that not all my girl friend relationships will be at an intimate level of sharing all that is in my heart.

It is good and healthy to have different levels of intimacy.

With some friends we share cliches. . . ie. ..how are you today. . isn't the weather lovely. .

with some we share facts. . .ie. . I have two sons who are married and I have grand babies. .

with some we share opinions and others our hopes and dreams.

With others we share our feelings and maybe our faults, fears and failures. .

and then with a select few we share our real needs.

As I sat writing this post I stopped to think about so many of my girlfriends and the indescribable richness of what they have brought to my life.

They have been part of making me who I am today.
God clearly has designed us women to need other women.

While I haven't always been an easy friend, I have always been blessed with friends, and I thank God that He has always put girlfriends into my life from very young.
Kathy, thank you for being a Grown-Up Girlfriend to me.
Thank you for forgiving me for all those times I poked my finger in your eye.
Thank you for wanting the relationship to be all that God intended it to be.
I love you . . . and I feel your love returned.
For the rest of my girlfriends. . .some of you are girlfriends in my family,
some of you are girlfriends from way back,
some of you are recent new friends,
.. . .thank you. . for being my friend.
I want to be the kind of friend to all of you that God lays out for friendship in His word.
I wish that I had learned some of these truths younger ..
I will choose to look ahead and delight in God's purpose for my life.

"No prolonged infancies among us please. We'll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for imposters. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love ~~ like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love"

Ephesians 4 14-16 The Message

Last but not least. . .thank you to our wonderful husbands for the comic relief in today's pictures. . .picking good husbands is something we have always agreed about .. .ours are the best. PS Kathy's husband looks nothing like Homer.

Kathy's response from the comment page. .

Thank you for your kind words about me this morning. I remember one of the cards you wrote to me some years back that said "thank you for loving me when I was lovable, but especially when I was not." That little sentance has stayed with me. I have often thought about that and I too have over the years felt loved from you when I know you must have had to work hard to show grace when I was unlovely.

Scot and I have enjoyed our frinedship with you and Terry over the years. We have such wonderful memories that far outway any of our hickups.

I loved the truth in Charlotte's poem about friends. (check out her blog -Here I Stand) I am so rich with many frienships, and each have brought something different my way. Some have been deep, some casual. I want my friends to feel valued and respected. I want to build up my friends and encourage them where they are at, not where I think they should be at. I want them to have the right to speak the truth into my life and help me along when they see I need a loving word of reproach or encouragement.

I am grateful for you Lovella for loving me where I am, and encouraging me to be better, to grow in my walk with the Lord, to love my family more, to live life to the fullest. Thanks for the journey we as friends are walking together. Thanks for forgiving me when I have hurt you.

I hope we can be a testimony of God's love to the world of girls out there who long for healthy relationships. Honestly, I have some friendships I need to pour into more, I need to work at harder, and some that I need to mend alittle.

I love to laugh and do it out loud! That we did Friday on the boat. I just love the way you 'honored' Scot in the pictures. Girls...let your hair down abit and have fun with your friends. Don't be so serious! Oh and having two goofs along really helps. Last year Scot brought his inflatable boat and the guys had about the same fun with that as they did with the belly boat this year.

I can only imagine camping this summer. I already know what the new fun toy is for that trip and it scares me abit. I am not a target! More fun, more memories. This is not my blog so I better sign off. Thanks for investing in our friendship Lovella.

I love you! Kathy

Have a wonderful day my friends, I'll be posting again on Wednesday.

24 comments:

  1. What a touching tribute to a special friendship, and to friendship in general!

    This is a good reminder that even the strongest friendship can be fragile. Like a marriage, you must work at knowing and understanding each other... maintaining respect and never taking one another for granted.

    I appreciate your recommendation of this book. I will also be passing this along to my daughter who works (at her church) with teenage girls.

    For days, I’ve had this nagging feeling that I need to call my dear friend in Texas – our daughters introduced us, telling us that we must be sisters separated at birth! Even though we moved away ten years ago, we still have marathon phone calls (3 hours or more!) on a regular basis. After reading this, I think it’s time to talk again! (Whew…I was worried for a few moments that Homer Simpson might actually have accompanied you on this boat outing!)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Enjoyed reading your review of the book through your life experiences. God blesses us with great relationships, what a joy it is. The photos are fabulous!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other is gold."

    My mind started humming that little song as I was reading your post. I wondered how much "gold" we all might now have if we had understood and practiced such truths as your explored in this post.
    In reality, one usually does have a limit as to how many very close friendship can be nurtured (a husband and one or two close friends seems to be the norm), yet it is always easily possible to add a different spectrum of friendships~ those friends who light up one's life in perhaps only one shared area, such as a love of gardening or writing blogs or serving on a committee~together those friends add such sparkle to life! I'm glad we found each other via a simple shared interest.
    Thank you Lovella for reading and pondering this subject for the past few months. Thank you for crafting a post that is important and worthy of discussion. I hope those who read it today will be challenged to contact a friend and talk about this, and use it to build new ties, and to release past folly, and perhaps also to desire to begin looking about for new friends who may arrive in their world from afar. After all,while gold is the most valuable treasure, silver is a very nice treasure to have as well!

    ReplyDelete
  4. PS: I've seen Kathy's husband. He looks more like Bart Simpson than Homer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A wonderful tribute to friendship...thanks for sharing, Lovella. Close friendships are the best...and yet they are the ones where we experience the most hurt. But those hurts are so worth it...once we get past them!

    It looks like you guys had a wonderful outing at a beautiful spot. My question is...how did you impose the 'Simpson clip-art' onto your photos?

    ReplyDelete
  6. Grown up girl friendships are the best! I know because I have one just like you describe. Thanks for the wonderful tribute to your friend Lovella. What an encouraging post! Now I want to read that book..
    Have a great day Lovella!

    ReplyDelete
  7. The clip art. . .the old fashioned way. . I printed off clip art, printed off a picture, scanned the picture and clipart together back onto my computer. . I know there must be an easier way ..

    ReplyDelete
  8. thankyou for the amazing post....so much truth in those words. friendships are such a gift, worthy of the extra effort. having met kathy, i know she would be the kind of friend that would be worth the effort....;-)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Lovella, thank you for taking the time and trouble to write such a thoughtful post and for sharing your heart as you have.

    True and deep friendships are indeed wonderful and we women do need them with other women. They become more precious as time goes on, I've found...

    I love "The Message" translation of Ephesians 4:14-16 that you included at the end...it doesn't mince words!

    Yes, I admit I did a double take when I first noticed Homer appearing in those photos! At first I thought it was some weird virus attaching your blog....then I figured it out - somebody did not wish to be seen!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Lovella I think you hit on the secret of lasting and deep friendships - where "God truly is the center"

    It is too easy for us to either brush hurts from a friend under the carpet (at least we think we do) or become distant and pull back.

    But Christ calls us to something different - "be tender-hearted and compassionate with one another, forgiving one another just as in Christ, God forgave us."

    It sometimes takes good hard work, humility and committment - but the rewards are great.

    Thanks to both you and Kathy for sharing in such a transparent way. That in itself speaks volumes about your friendship.

    ReplyDelete
  11. PS
    I'm disappointed - I'm on a library computer and I can't see the homer picture!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Boy, I can tell that you put a lot of effort into writing this. Grown up friends can take alot of work, but it's so worth it and just to keep respecting each other.
    Long time friendships take work, I have not always been the best at this and somewhere on the path things have changed and friendships have been lost.
    It's always difficult to know which battles are worth fighting for.
    Way to go and I'm still waiting to meet Kathy.
    I think I need to go out and buy that book, as I'm meeting one of those friends this weekend and maybe we can actually work through the book together.
    Thanks for your encouragement.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Lovella, thanks for such a beautiful post. You are a real encouragement to me and then to read all that your 'grown up' blog friends write, it's so encouraging to hear what wiser women have to say. I love it! Thank you for willing to share your heart in your blog and be so honest. I think I will have to get the book! --Amber

    ReplyDelete
  14. Adobe Photoshop allows you to do these amazing things. My daughter has worked with this program and tells me to forget it, because I'd be to frustrated and challenged.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beautifully written from a thoughtful heart, Lovella!

    I believe a woman who has a good husband,and a 'best' girlfiend is enriched to make much of all other relationships in her life.

    Girlfriends at any age are a 'gift' in nourishing us to be all who God created us to be as women.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great post. I'm gonna chew on this for a while.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Oh, Lovella, you have put your finger on so many relationships today. Why do we too often need to utter the jibe or the put-down? (My use of sarcasm must be quite hurtful to my family members bytimes.) I love that you are open and honest with your own "failings" (I'd call them human-ness) because it gives your readers the permission to look hard at ourselves. I like, too, how you describe yourself as not always an "easy" friend, but I imagine that a friend worth having wouldn't always be "easy."

    You are blessed with a great friend in Kathy and how wonderful that it has developed into a richer, fuller friendship at this stage of your lives. Now just don't fall off that boat!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for your kind words about me this morning. I remember one of the cards you wrote to me some years back that said "thank you for loving me when I was lovable, but especially when I was not." That little sentance has stayed with me. I have often thought about that and I too have over the years felt loved from you when I know you must have had to work hard to show grace when I was unlovely. Scot and I have enjoyed our frinedship with you and Terry over the years. We have such wonderful memories that far outway any of our hickups. I loved the truth in Charlotte's poem about friends. (check out her blog -Here I Stand) I am so rich with many frienships, and each have brought something different my way. Some have been deep, some casual. I want my friends to feel valued and respected. I want to build up my friends and encourage them where they are at, not where I think they should be at. I want them to have the right to speak the truth into my life and help me along when they see I need a loving word of reproach or encouragement. I am grateful for you Lovella for loving me where I am, and encouraging me to be better, to grow in my walk with the Lord, to love my family more, to live life to the fullest. Thanks for the journey we as friends are walking together. Thanks for forgiving me when I have hurt you. I hope we can be a testimony of God's love to the world of girls out there who long for healthy relationships. Honestly, I have some friendships I need to pour into more, I need to work at harder, and some that I need to mend alittle.
    I love to laugh and do it out loud! That we did Friday on the boat. I just love the way you 'honored' Scot in the pictures. Girls...let your hair down abit and have fun with your friends. Don't be so serious! Oh and having two goofs along really helps. Last year Scot brought his inflatable boat and the guys had about the same fun with that as they did with the belly boat this year. I can only imagine camping this summer. I already know what the new fun toy is for that trip and it scares me abit. I am not a target! More fun, more memories. This is not my blog so I better sign off.
    Thanks for investing in our friendship Lovella. I love you! Kathy

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a great and encouraging post! i've written the book down to find. I think it sounds good. What a blessing to have such a dear friend!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hi Lovella I haven't visited since the graduation dress postings and have come across again from a link on Vicki's blog. But I am so glad that I did. So much of what you said spoke to me and challenged me to dig deeper into myself on the issue of ailing friendships that have been much on my mind of late. Too often I have been the foul weather friend, there if you need me but vacant the rest of the time. I am not good at maintaining friendships. I don't put the time into them. Something you said in your post I will have to think deeper on, you mentioned about how you view yourself affects your friendships and this is where I think I am being challenged to search.
    Thank you for sharing. It sounds like you have a wonderful friend and that you are a wonderful friend. Enjoy this great blessing. Thank you again.

    ReplyDelete
  21. These sort of friendships sure make life rich. Thank you for sharing your insights and blessings with us. It inspires me to pick up a phone to make a date with a friend.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Awww, so sweet. I think girlfriends are essential. Lately life gets busy and my coffee times with them don't come as often, but when we do get a chance to reconnect it always reminds me how vital it is to keep that friendship alive.

    ReplyDelete
  23. A heartfelt post Lovella. I am fortunate, like you, to have one very close friend of nearly 30 years standing.
    you learn as you go along, not to be possessive, not to expect to be the only friend in that person's life, but just to appreciate that they will be there for you in need.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Thank you for sharing your godly wisdom into friendship, thanks for both sharing your hearts.

    I hope I can learn to be the kind of friend that I long for...I am definitely a work in process-I need God's hand to shape me into the Kimmie He desires for me to become.

    thank you Lovella and Kathy.

    Kimmie
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted

    ReplyDelete

Thank you!