With all of my children having vacated my home for 8 hours of the day, a new chapter has opened up to me. While at first I was apprehensive, I have seen something truly new and challenging happening. Making real and close friendships while having to give so much time and attention to my children, used to be so tough, the work involved, well, it was too much and the result: as it tends to happen to many Moms, is the lack of true friendships.
Sure we have friends, but when examining closely, I found those friends were more like acquaintances, or superficial relationships without the real meat of understanding each other, giving support, encouragement and motivation.
So in the past month, a friendship of mine, which used to be more work related has evolved into a closeness that I haven’t had, probably since college. And just today, I realized that she was there for me, in the few first days that school started and my home was so empty. She called me, we sat at Starbucks, cried together and then turned mornings into bike rides or walks together to chat. Now since then, we’ve both gotten busy with the ordinary, however, she was sensitive enough to me and my empty home, she made a point to keep me busy and supported in those first few days.
A conversation just today with this friend took a new turn, sharing personal family histories, frustrations and complications that wouldn’t have happened between acquaintances nor superficial individuals. And out of the blue, she asked a dreaded question, that has me back into prayer mode to discern what God might be asking me to do.
I had mentioned in casual conversations the difficulties I still encounter with my family, why I don’t necessarily look forward to reunions and even went so far to tell her, that there was a long period of time of no communication, a kind of family break, not really considering that she’d want details on the ‘why’.
Of course a true friend would ask why. She’d be curious and want to know me better, and the reasons for the decisions I make for my family. I just didn’t anticipate it, wasn’t ready for it. I was able to dodge it easily with a ‘Gotta week for explanation?’
To my surprise, she laughed with a loud, “Yes!”
Why do I hesitate in telling her.
There was a long period of time, where I needed to break away from my parents and siblings in order to formulate the kind of woman and mother I aspired to be. And living in dysfunction, makes that goal of formulation impossible. I needed to breakaway and seek a new way of life, a new way to see my vocation and ultimately change the cycle of the past. I had to breakaway to create new.
In the past two years, I have reconnected on a minimal level with my parents, searching out a new kind of relationship with them, based on an acceptance of who they are and a letting go of who I think they should have been or should be now. They weren't capable of being what I needed back then and probably still aren’t capable of being what I need now.
Not only that, but I have grown a bit spiritually and have chosen to be a person who forgives. I don’t just want to say the words and think that’s enough, because to heal interiorly, it takes a true kind of forgiveness for the decades of pain and hurt that accompany such evil in a childhood. It’s a kind of healing that takes place every single day. How do we REALLY know we’ve forgiven as God expects us to do? I have a feeling I am getting there as in my spontaneous prayer, I find myself praying for my parents, that God will forgive them too. And that’s the real moment of healing that happens in the heart of the injured victim. If I can pray for them, if I can beg God to have mercy on them, it softens my heart towards them too. It’s how the cycle of evil is overcome.
This injustice from my youth is a kind that our society doesn’t easily forgive. It’s socially acceptable to completely cut the strings after this kind of childhood. No one would judge me. However, I am reminded often, I am sure by the Holy Spirit, that the measure that I forgive, will be measured in turn against me. I am not perfect. I have hurt others, I have sinned. If I can forgive the worst I can imagine, then perhaps I will be worthy of the forgiveness of others.
So why do I worry what my new close friend will say or feel when I answer her question of ‘why’ the family break? No, I do think she’ll understand the need for break. What I guess I really wonder is if she will understand the call I feel to forgive. It will give her a new deeper dimension of who I am, and it’s counter cultural to forgive evil acts. Not only this, but it will take this friendship in a new direction, one I am a little nervous to develop.
See, in this world of Facebook friends, followers, emails, texts and tweets and so many outlets for brief, digital, superficial encounters with others, these kind of real honest relationships are getting lost. True friendships, those that can see your cluttered home, you see their dirty dishes in the sink, lack of eyeliner and concealer, and still not be distracted by all that superficial-ness, and only see the strong yet vulnerable woman before her/or you – well, that’s something that is very rare and very special.
This could be an opportunity to share a slice of what makes me, who I am. And not apologize for it. But to put it out there with the suggestion that we are all works in progress. Oh what the support of a good friend can do! But a good friend can only be that true friend, knowing the crosses we carry, hey, even Jesus had Simon to help with the cross. And that’s being vulnerable to let them in. How personal and intimate can conversations really get when 600 or more others are reading the Facebook conversations.
Oh to be vulnerable in this day and age! We are so guarded, yet eager to put an image or perception out there in the digital world of who we are, mostly fabricated, to the point that no one truly knows our heart, our wounds or scars or how we cope with the issues of the past. It takes time and work to develop those real and lasting relationships, and in our fast paced world, it’s simply easier to send out our profile updates to the masses and be fooled into thinking the numbers on a computer screen actually mean something.
God on earth spent time with people and opened their hearts and what happened? It converted the whole world. What could happen if we spent a little time and talked heart to heart with our friends?
Well, I am about to find out.