The Perfect Friend: Saying goodbye to a wish-dream
I turned onto the interstate, and got ready to merge into my lane. I had done this so many times, yet this time was very different from my regular driving routine. I was alone in the car- no car seats behind me, nobody to point out cows (or horses, or goats!), and complete control of the radio. It is a time a mom relishes, don’t you know! Still, I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling in my stomach. It was tied in knots as my mind started to race with worries and questions. What terrible mission was I on? None at all, actually a fun night was planned- I was headed to my first women’s night.
Though as I drove, my mind couldn’t help but race with fears, with self-focused thoughts, and maybe even residual bitterness to be honest. I had already done this, it screamed! I had already been the new one. I had already struggled to be brave. I had already introduced myself, and I had already done the work to make friends and invest into their lives. I had already been blessed by such wonderful encouraging friends and companions to our family. Why did I have to do it again? Why did I have to start over again? Why did friends have to move? Why did circumstances have to change? Why did God take that gift I had prayed for so long away?
I felt completely out of control, and everything in me longed for the familiar. I longed to just have it easy. I longed for friendship to just come quickly, easily, and without much effort on my part. I didn’t want to have to be brave. I didn’t want to be vulnerable again. I didn’t want to open myself up and fear that once again my friends might be taken from me.
Everything in me longed for the familiar- it longed for easy
With lots of prayer, and encouragement from a friend, I had a fun time that night. I went in, purposing to love others as my main goal, and I thank the Lord for the refreshment it gave to my still anxious heart.
This night was just one step in what God has been teaching me in the past few years in my view of friendships. The more I have read and the more I have talked and heard from other women, I realized a longing for ease is something we all desire. Christine Hoover put it well when she says in her book Messy Beautiful Friendship:
“Perfect (and easy) friendship seems to be the last-to-die dream for many women. We see through the smoke of romantic love fairly early, we learn quickly that chasing beauty or money or perfection is like grasping for the wind, but we hold on so tightly to our ideal dream of friendship.”
She calls this desire for ideal friendship our wish-dream. She goes on to write:
“If we do not shatter our wish-dreams of friendship, God in his grace, always will. He desires to give us true, biblical friendship, and it all hangs on how we respond when our romanticized view of friendship is trampled on. Will we look inward with a critical eye..? Will we look outward with judgment and frustration, blaming those around us for their insensitivity and callousness? Will we give God the stink-eye until he gives the good gift he appears to be withholding from us? Will we hold tightly to the shattered pieces of our dreams and either try to piece them back together or bemoan in isolation what we clutch in our hands?”
Everyone of those was me, and honestly sometimes- I find it still is me. I quickly look at myself and see everything that someone wouldn’t like about me. Or I look around and start to get frustrated because no one is exactly like me. And just as on that night and many others- I have sat holding on to the shattered pieces of my dreams- of my own plans and how I thought things would go, sad for myself and holding bitterness at what God had given me. What a sad mess each of those responses is, friend. Oh but I thank God for his grace in showing me the lies all of these statements speak to my heart.
I have been deeply encouraged my many new friends lately. Though, I’m still growing in my heart in this each day. I’m still praying for the right heart, for a brave heart, and above all a patient heart. One that finds complete satisfaction in His friendship and patiently waits to be a good friend to the women God chooses to put in my days- even when it seems difficult and even messy.
I have really enjoyed reading Christine Hoover’s book, Messy Beautiful Friendship that comes out to purchase April 18. You can pre-order the book and receive several pre-order goods such as video interviews with her and her friends, an interview with Jen Wilkin, and the first 2 chapters of the book early. To read an excerpt from the book on naming our friends, click here.