Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Measuring up

Last Tuesday I got to see an old friend. I mean from back in Georgia, back in the day. We met in the summer after 8th grade and were friends for a couple of years till I moved away and we eventually lost contact. We reconnected toward the end of college through a mutual friend. Found out we were both believers and even got to see each other at a student missions convention in IL. Our birthdays are one day apart. Cool. After all these years we still acknowledge our "birthday buddy" with a card. At least she does, and I try to. We know which one is the more organized.

This is no ordinary friend. She has a degree in Theology, has written for 50 magazines, collaborated on 20 books, and has 6 of her own. She is a respected international conference speaker and has other professional experience in missions, pastoral care, and broadcasting. And she is funny--very funny. We laughed a lot over dinner and brought up names of people that hadn't crossed our minds in a lot of years. Neither of us live in the South now, but the South helped to shape who we are. (BTW-southerners always capitalize the South.)

We figured the last time we saw each other was when I was living in WI before either of us were married. I've been married 25 years. That's long enough ago to cause me to feel a little insecure as I enter the hotel lobby to meet her after my unusually hectic day. I mean, she's all that, and I'm just me, right? She's lost weight and I've gained some. I am well aware that it's way past time to re-do my hair color. There are numerous other things I could tell myself about how I don't measure up based on the past and present. But none of that seemed to matter as we talked non-stop over a shared entree in downtown Denver last week. More than being birthday buddies, we are life buddies. That's what is really cool. We share a bond in the Lord, in ministry, in passion, in what we've devoted our lives to. We both wish we could be with our aging parents in GA more often. We have both been through some hard stuff. We both want to do life better next year than we did last year, not that we're never satisfied, but that we have some things on our hearts to give ourselves to. We both want the best for our kids. We're both freer now than we were ten years ago. Yes, even with my surface insecurities, I am freer! (anyway, I did push through those as soon as I stepped out of the elevator into the hotel lobby and saw her. It helped that she had a big smile on her face!)

cin jen

My friend, Cindy, has written a beautiful grace-filled book about rejuvenating your inner life. It's called Spa for the Soul. See the link on my side panel. I hope you will read it and let me know if so.

Maybe next time I will tell a couple of the crazy things that happened while we were dining.


Blogger steph said...

What a great friendship. This book looks timely for my reading/thinking process.

11:06 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Why is it that we always worry about how we measure up?

After just getting back from NY where the first thing I usually hear is either, "You look good" (whether or not I do) or "What did you do to your hair?" (usually from my Dad), this is quite uppermost in my mind, especially when I'm meeting someone I haven't seen in a long time.

Why do we think, especially with our friends, that it matters? Not to them, I'm sure. It matters to us.

Today I received a phone call from a dear friend I haven't talked to in several years. He reminded me that our college reunion is next year. My first response - "Good, I have a year to work on my look!" (This translates to, "I have a year to lose the 50 pounds I've gained since graduation.")

Well, theoretically anyway, it's doable. So even knowing that it shouldn't matter, I'm going for it!

4:04 PM  
Blogger soul and culture said...

I appreciate that you rightfully call it "the South", as opposed to "down South" (incorrect), which is what I usually hear in Denver!

5:01 PM  
Blogger kathy said...

this is why i love good, real friends. none of the things we think can get in the way really matter. it's so interesting how easy it is to compare and assume. those are 2 things i'm really good at. i assume that people think certain things about me and compare myself to what i think i'm supposed to be or what others think i'm supposed to be. over the course of time God has revealed to me how much energy i have wasted this way. am thinking that it's so much easier to just rest in knowing God loves me no matter what, that part of the beauty is in the non-perfection, and that i am what i am--not what i "should" be, not what i wish i was. jesus was so good at that. i guess that's because He is God but He also said that we could become more and more like Him if we clung to Him and listened to Him and soaked in His truth. the more i do that, the less i compare and assume. it's so much better. i am glad you had a great visit with your friend, jenny!

9:53 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

yes, kathy, assuming is the other half of comparison, isn't it? soaking in His truth sounds like the best way to wash clean of the previous 2, but getting to the point of seeing beauty in the non-perfection--i'm not quite there yet! if non-perfection equals weakness, then it's the perfect place for His strength to be made known. so why do i despise being there, especially when He reveals that it is exactly where He can begin to work and bring His strength into my situation? we were just talking about this in our group and realizing we sometimes need each other to remind us and to help pull us through the hard spots. maybe that is part of His strength for us.

11:30 PM  
Blogger karl said...

as i read your blog, it made we wonder: do great friends take a lot of effort, or do they just happen?
this may not be correct to say, but it seems that for some good, close friendships happen, just happen. it has always been a bit of a puzzle to me how that occurs.
i wonder if the comparison part is for me a type of competition, a way to keep score, and of course it is hard to be friends with someone you want to defeat, or be defeated by. cant sleep so i ramble...

4:04 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

I think that great friends do "just happen". I think this happens when you have a natural connection that is nurtured by time together. After the friendship is established, the time piece is not as important. You don't even have to agree on everything.

I have some great friends, a couple, who never, ever call me. They are busy, busy. But I call them to arrange to see them because I just love to be around them. We are very comfortable with each other. Every time, we connect like we have not lost any time at all, and we are honest about our friendship with each other. We say "I love you" in our various styles. We probably see/talk to each other once per year. We are in each others' thoughts more often than that.

There have been others with whom I have thought I could be great friends, but it was an effort so it didn't happen. So much for the "planning" of a friendship. I don't think you can force a connection. And the older we get, the time needed to establish something new and strong is the challenge. But I have been incredibly lucky in my old age (ha) to meet some wonderful people and we have become great friends because we were able to get to our hearts and be honest in record time.

And there are many who I care about - who are acquaintances - and that's as far as we'll be able to get. But I am blessed by those relationships and I hope I can bless them back.

If I'm making any comparisons, it's similar to what Jenny said about measuring up to others. I'm not trying to be better, just good enough not to warrant a disparaging comment. It's all in my head. I'm the only one who cares or even notices. But this blog has been good for me to take this under the microscope and see why I think that way. I haven't figured it out yet.

7:26 AM  

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