Jul 12, 2008

Friends

Believe it or not, Mommies have friends too. I don't get as many playdates with my friends as I would like, but I sure do enjoy every moment spent with them. As much fun as it is being a Mommy, it is still super important to not loose yourself in this wonderful job. Being a Mommy is only part of who I am. I'm a wife, friend, daughter, sister and part of a much larger community in my neighborhood, city and world. How sad it would be if I lost sight of all the other parts that make up 'me'. I wouldn't have the opportunity to learn, love, grow, and help others as much if I didn't experience this beautiful world in all my capacities.

A little side note is needed here to understand why these friendships are so important to me. I grew up believing you could only be friends with people just like you (who share the same beliefs in our little sub-culture, bubble world) - by no fault of my parents, though. I didn't know how to be a good friend. I had a lot of learning to do. I was scared of people not like me. I was afraid they'd somehow 'make me bad' or 'change what I believe'. Actually, the opposite happened when I started opening my heart and life to new people. First of all, I learned things I couldn't have dreamed of learning. I was accepted despite my (then) self righteous attitude towards life and others and these friendships slowly started teaching me to do the same. They broke down my 'safe' barrier. True love exists where God grows it and it started growing in my heart for people very similar and very dissimilar to me.

I want my children to know how your life can touch others whether you realize it or not. People are always reading the story of your life, watching you, seeing if your words and actions match up. I want them to know that friendships, like love are not conditional. You take the good with the bad. Sometimes God puts people in your path solely for your growth other times, you may be the one who benefits the life of another. Friendships are not about us - what we get out of them. I've had several friends that made me wonder why we were even friends at all - and then I remember...it's not always about me...maybe this friendship is for their benefit, not mine.

Below is a tribute to all my friends. I will not write your name, for you and I know who you are and I want to respect your privacy. But I also don't ever want to forget these beautiful people God has placed in my path on this journey of life and all the wonderful things I have learned by just having the opportunity of being each of these precious souls' friend.

I only lived near this first person for 6 months. At first she was very shy and I felt very aggressive in trying to befriend her, but I wanted her to know she wasn't alone even if she felt it in this new state far away from her family. I don't normally try to 'push' myself on others, but I did want her to know she was welcome in my home anytime for any reason. Finally she started realizing that I meant it and our friendship grew and became so precious to me. I could totally be myself and we would commiserate together about the 'bad mommy' days and laugh about almost anything. We would stay up all hours of the night playing games and laughing like kids. I love how as couples, we banter back and forth. I felt so free to be me in her presence. She didn't judge my mommy abilities or lack thereof. Although we no longer live in the same neighborhood, everytime we talk or see each other, it's as if we pick up from the last time and there was never any time or distance between us. She has the most patience I've ever seen, is soft spoken (so unlike me) and has a quiet dignity which I so appreciate. She serves her family beautifully and humbly.

I literally 'bumped' into this next friend at a meeting I was attending. Since we bumped into each other in the hallway and initiated a conversation, I figured I may as well sit next to her since I 'knew' her now. That freak connection brought together an amazing, deep friendship. We had so many odd things in common. These bonded us. I have since moved away, yet the bond God grew between us is as strong as ever. She has no pretense. She is who she is all the time. I really appreciate that about her. She asks tough questions and gets me thinking. She's very creative and comes up with fun activities to do with her kids. She listens with compassion. She encourages me in my mothering and homeschooling. We have fun sharing what we're both learning with each other and joyful at the growth of the other and hurt when the other hurts.

My next friend I've known the longest. However, 14 years went by without us talking. God restored my oldest friendship and grew it into what it is now. We share a history. She knows the kid in me very well. Although we don't live close by, we make a point to visit once a year to show we care and to bring our families together. She is very strong emotionally. She's committed 100% to whatever she puts her mind to. Her giggle cracks me up - I just love to hear her laugh. I love how she calls my own parents "mom and dad". She's seen the worst in me and loves me anyways. She's been through many trials and always trusts God to see her through them and I've been blessed to watch her grow in grace and patience when she'd rather sit there and throw a temper tantrum. We can be totally honest with our feelings about anything with each other.

I've only known this next friend a little over a year, yet she has touched my heart in a way few others have. She is from a different culture. Her love for her culture is contagious and she has taught me so much and given me such an appreciation for the beauty and uniqueness that is her culture. She has a huge heart. She is very giving. She is super smart. I love watching her with her children. She always calls them "my love" - such an affirming, beautiful thing. She's always teaching them, never shoving them aside to get out of her way so she can do grown-up things. She just teaches them about life in such a natural way. She wants them to be near and they want to be near her. We can sit and talk for hours about every and anything. I always walk away learning something from her. She appreciates her husband in the same way I do mine. We both love the simple things in life. I love her view on community. I especially am thankful that there's no word for 'goodbye' in her language because I don't think I could say goodbye to her even though she's moving soon. I am a better person for having the chance to know her.

I also have a history with this next friend. We've been friends for 10 years now. We journeyed down a whole new road together both spiritually and as homeschool buddies. I've learned so much from her. Her brain is an idea generator. She comes up with tons of awesome, fun, creative things to do with the kids. She has a beautiful smile and contagious laugh. I love how she loves her kids and how she appreciates all children. It is so easy for her to be on their level and make them each feel special and wanted by her. The respect, love and admiration she shows her husband is unwavering. There is such peace in her home and it is always open to anybody. She has a huge heart and offers what she has to anyone who needs it, be it time, food, a room, a word of encouragement. Best of all, we've had some doozy disagreements and worked through them in amazing ways. To her, the friendship is always more important than the disagreement and she always makes that priority. I learned that disagreements aren't friendship breakers, rather friendship growers and it only makes the friendship stronger. She is so loyal. And she always takes all my decorating advice.

Another friend of mine is a neighbor. She is one of the strongest women I know - but she has to be. She has a mentally and physically handicapped child, the oldest of her three children. Her life is devoted to her. Everything she does is centered around the needs of this child. It is an amazing testament to her love and devotion. She endures stares, hardships, fear, inconvenience of time, money and extra energy - all for love. Her younger children are better for having had this sister they always look out for. They have learned more about life through her than they could have had their sister been 'normal'. For them, this is 'normal'. I'm forever amazed at my friend's ability to make life as 'normal' as possible for her family even though the many obstacles they (as a family) have to go through on a daily basis. She is so selfless. She has few friends and moral support, yet still pushes on day after day. Her strength comes from God alone.

My husband is my best friend. We were friends before we were "in love". He threw rocks at me to show me how much he loved me. I giggled and pretended to be upset. He is an awesome listener. He listens to all my opinions and loves me anyways. We have so much fun playing together. He has taught me to appreciate nature so much more than I did. The sunsets are more beautiful when we share them together. He has taught me what humility is. He has taught me what unconditional love is. His gentleness always calms me down. I don't like his music, but he likes mine. We get into laughing fits together and end up crying we laugh so hard. He's hilarious. He talks in circles sometimes and that only makes me laugh harder. He always encourages me in life, homeschool and on our spiritual journey. He likes what I like - or at least has learned to have an appreciation for something he never would have before. Also, one of the reasons he's a keeper is because he cooks when I'm too tired - now that's a true friend!

My mom is also my friend. It's something we've been blessed to grow into as I've grown older. We share books back and forth like nobody's business. We love to talk about the same things and appreciate the same things. I'm so lucky to have a constant source of encouragement. She thinks everything I do is awesome - what a huge confidence builder. She likes me and I like her. I know she prays for me whether I ask her to or not - what a nice feeling to know you're being thought of all the time. Although we no longer live close by, our relationship has grown from being apart. We appreciate the little things more now. We've gotten to walk and grow in new freedoms together...which is so important when you both have experienced such bondage and know where each other has been. I love how she listens whenever I need to vent, cry, tell her a funny, sad or unbelievable story. Many of the things that come normal to me now as a mom are from having such a great example growing up. Although, I must confess...she has no clue how to play Barbies.

Believe it or not, I've even met some beautiful souls I would consider friends online through this wonderful medium of blogging. They probably have no idea I consider them friends. But I've learned alot by reading their blogs. Both of these girls are amazing writers. One knows just the right order to put her words in and her blogs flow like delicious melting chocolate. I'm always hooked when I read and when I'm done I walk away content like after I've read a good book. She's such an encourager. Another is a hilarious writer. It's hard to write funny, but she pulls it off perfectly. The heart for her children and husband is beautiful. I appreciate people who don't take themselves too seriously and can laugh at themselves in the good and bad times.

Thank you all for the lessons you've taught me and thank you God for this beautiful journey called 'my life'.
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6 comments:

chuck said...

I do NOT talk in circles. I prefer to think of them as circular conversations - you know, the beginning and the end flow together in eternal harmony? I can't help it if I think on this "other level" :)

On a serious note, I am the blessed one in this relationship. I am so thankful that we were friends first and will always be, even when we're old and the kids are gone. I promise not to throw rocks at you, though. ;)

Jennboree said...

What a great post! I figured a long time ago that some friends serve a purpose in our life for either a specific period of time or for a lifetime. For however long we have them, friendships are a blessing.

I too have learned how to be a good friend. It isn't any easier as an adult than it was in elementary school! Knowing and accepting WHO my friends are and knowing (and accepting!) who I am is key, I think.

I've thoroughly enjoyed learning about you through your blog. Your self-reflections help me with my own.

I would also recommend that Chuck not throw love rocks when you are old. Might throw a hip out! :)

Jennifer said...

Ok girl, the feeling is completely mutual. I'm so glad that God brought you BOTH back into our lives. You & Chuck are a constant source of strength to both Michael & I, and I cannot tell you how blessed we both feel to know you.

carol said...

Relationships are the most important parts of our lives.How wonderful that you are so young and have discovered their value.For many years I have busied myself with the unimportant tasks of life,at the expence of having no time for the wonderful friends God has brought me.I refuse to do it amy longer.I don't want to miss out. Life is too short.

Heather said...

Cori, you never fail to inspire me. Even when you put the spotlight on others you are teaching me.

Kim said...

Well said. What a beautiful tribute. You are very rich in friends, Cori, and that is a rare blessing. I am grateful to consider myself one of them because your friendship is a God-send to me (literally). Love you.

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