Saturday, May 21, 2011

Do You Have A Suzanne?

You know how some people are social and love people and always like to have people around?  That's not me.  I know that we were created to be social beings and that we were meant to function better in community, and I'm not saying I'm exempt - but I enjoy my own company, I always have lots of things I want to do and read, and it takes a whole lot of alone time before I'm seeking out company.  (Except for my husband, for whom I am sometimes needy.  But that's a whole different post that probably will never get written.)

I do have friends, and I enjoy getting together with them.  We are in a small group, and have really enjoyed hanging with those people Saturday nights this past year.  I'm in a book club, too, and count those girls among my closest friends.

But today I want to tell you about a new friendship.  A friendship that I am so thankful for, and that I would wish for each of you.

One day a few months back, a casual friend of mine (someone I saw at church and was in book club with), asked about the possibility of getting together on a regular basis... I'm not sure she knew exactly what she was looking for, but someone to talk with about some of the deeper parts of life and to have honest conversation with was sort of the gist of it.

We began to get together once every two weeks, and over the span of the last few months, she has transformed into one of the first people I would call if there was something serious going on in my life.  The friendship has deepened quickly and so genuinely that it's hard to believe it's only been such a short time.

What makes a friend like this?  For one, I think that the openness on both our parts has allowed us to trust and feel comfortable with one another.  I heard an expression once, I forget where, about putting your friendship for sale - not making the other person invest much to get anywhere with you, but making it easy for them to get inside.  We both came at it with an openness, and risked the vulnerability that comes with sharing much.

Another thing that goes along with this is intentionality.  We get together every other Wednesday - we put it in our calendars and plan to spend time together.  We also are intentional about what we talk about - we catch up, of course, and tell our stories, but we also (and this is a third thing) are accountable to each other.

One of the first things we did was talk about our goals - for all the different areas of our lives, both short term and long term.  This is a great exercise for anyone to do, but for us it provided that understanding of what we valued and were working for in our lives, and laid the groundwork for setting new goals each time we get together.  Sometimes they are more specific than others - sometimes life gets a little full and just getting through it well is enough of a goal for the next two weeks.  I keep my book with both our goals with my Bible and journal, and some mornings I pull it out - it reminds me what things I was going to work on, and it reminds me to pray for her and the things she was wanting to build into her life.

Our time together isn't forced, and we don't aim to solve one another's problems; sharing our own experiences and offering suggestions as we work through issues that come up sure is a help, though.  Whether it's spirituality, mothering, managing money, or relationships with our husbands or others, nothing is off limits, and everything is safe.

If you don't have a friend like this, I highly recommend you start scanning your acquaintances for someone who might fit the bill for you.  It's a rich relationship, and I am grateful for the day she asked.

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