Tuesday, May 19, 2015

life transitions + friendships - a community guest post!

Hello dear friends! This morning, we have another amazing blog post from a contributor of our Hot Tea and the Empty Seat community! And next Monday, another! These ladies are so full of wisdom and love for others. I can't wait for you to get to know them better! Today's topic is one I believe all women in all seasons can relate to. You are not alone!

When I was younger, in my school days, I was convinced that friendships were much more important at that time than they would be at any other time in my life. I mistakenly had the opinion that adult friendships didn't matter, because (I predicted) by the time I was an adult I'd have a husband and a family and I wouldn't have time for friends anyway.
Oh how wrong I was.
As I grow older, the friendships I have are becoming increasingly important to me, and this has been especially true during transitional phases of my life.
As I graduated college and embarked on a career, friendships grounded me and gave me a home base to dwell when I felt overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. My friends and I discussed job offer letters (or the lack of job offer letters) and possible moves and first apartments and the struggles of not being surrounded by our friends and setting out on our own. It was relatively easy to be a good friend during this time of my life because my friends and I were all about the same age and we were all going through the same transitions at the same time.
Then I got engaged and married before most of my friends did. Even though many of my friends couldn't necessarily relate to the entire ordeal of wedding planning and the seriousness of the commitment I was making, they were there to encourage me that I had found the right guy, brainstorm during the wedding planning phase, and then plan my bachelorette party. A few of my best friends even flew to Jamaica to witness me marrying the love of my life - my husband, Tim!
There's a reason we have marriage ceremonies in front of our community - it's because it takes an entire community to support a couple and their union and commitment to each other - a couple simply cannot do it on their own.
And that's when I learned something that I still think is very true about adult friendships - showing up is important, and sometimes it is the MOST important thing a friend can do. The most recent transitional life phase I've gone through was getting pregnant and having a baby. This particular change was especially tough, because I was just about the first of my good friends to become a mom. It was in this stage of my life that I learned that some friendships have an expiration date.
When I was pregnant it was relatively easy to stay close friends with the same people. Nothing had really changed except my waist size, so we still went out and had great times - although I was tired fairly often so I turned down quite a few social invitations. I had many of my best friends plan and show up for baby showers, and I was blown away by their kindness and support. Then (10 months ago) when I had my daughter, Clara, a lot of my friendships changed dramatically. I found it difficult to relate to my 'old' self and some of my old friends. I couldn't go out and socialize in the ways that I used to. I couldn't talk on the phone for hours without interruption. My mind and therefore my conversations were consumed with baby-related things. And don't get me wrong, I was able to discuss things other than my child and motherhood, but when my girlfriends would ask me what was new in life, my response almost always included Clara and my new and awesome (and exhausting!) role as her mom, which they weren't able to relate to.
Because of these changes, some friends stopped including me in social plans, and (although it's a struggle) I'm coming to terms with this. This behavior has made yet another truth of friendships apparent to me: Not all friendships are made to last forever. God has put people in our lives for very specific reasons, and we are challenged and shaped by the people who we become close to, but not all of these people are meant to be our life-long friends, and that's okay. Yes, it's sad when friendships end, but I now understand that friendships that fade into the background have simply run their course and usually end because of the individuals being in different phases of life.
I don't mean to make it sound like as soon as I became a mom I lost all of my friends - the opposite is actually true! I had my moments of feeling lonely, but God is good and He brought so many awesome women and couple friends into my life (and Tim's, as well!) We've met families through church, our neighborhood, and new moms groups. We've gone to children's birthday parties and have gotten together at friends' homes and meet regularly with church groups to talk about God and to get to know Him better, together. Our social calendar is filled with activities and we feel completely at peace with who we surround ourselves with - but it's definitely a different group than we were spending time with a year ago.
These new and fruitful friendships are possible because I was able to let old friendships go. I was able to pray about relationships and feel comfort in the fact that some relationships have simply run their course, and then when I felt peace in this, new people came into my heart and filled any holes I felt were there.

So I want to leave you with a few words of encouragement about friendships.

  • If you live nearby to your friends, cherish this time in your life and put energy into building strong foundations so that your friendships can withstand the test of time and geographical distance (if necessary) in the future.
  • If your friend is going through a life transition - show up for her! Community is extremely important during life changes. Even if you don't know what to say, be there if she needs you. Send a card, a small gift, or write an email. If you don't understand what your friend is going through because you haven't been there yet, yourself, just talk about what you do know and continue to be available. Don't be afraid to reach out to a friend!
  • Know that some friends will come, and some will go, and each of these things happen for a reason. Keep your heart and mind open and free from anger and disappointment and focus on God and His plan for your life! He will provide you with everything you need, even relationships, because we were created to live in community and in relationship with one another.
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    Meet Lisa! Lisa blogs over at Two Martinis. She writes about marriage, motherhood, & all things sweet in her life. She is precious + I look forward to getting to know her heart over here at Hot Tea and the Empty Seat Community in the future!

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