Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Friendship

Andrei and I have been feeling some changes lately related to our church. Perhaps it shouldn't be surprising. When we first got married, we each continued doing our thing. When David was born, we stopped everything. Then Andrei went back to some of his things, but not all. And now it feels like while we were "away" we changed. Should we really jump back in where we left off? Do we want to? Are we able to?

It seems like a good opportunity to do some thinking and praying and see if we want to go in a different direction.

But that isn't really what I wanted to write about. It's less about activity and more about people. But the two are inter-related.

During the "single" years, Andrei and I were in a Bible study. Our friends and I were pretty mobile. Each week we met in a different person's home, just to mix it up, see where different people lived. On holidays and weekends we would often go on excursions. We did picnics in the summer. We would jump on a bus and go out to one of the palace grounds for an afternoon. We celebrated each other's birthdays. We searched the church calendar for holidays just so we could do something fun as a group. We knew each other's prayer needs.

This is the current scene.

Andrei is sitting at his desk at 11:59 pm...

Andrei: "Did you wish ______ a happy birthday yet?"
Me: "Not yet."
Andrei: "Okay, I'm writing him on FB."
Me: "Make sure to say it's from me, too!"

It sounds pathetic. It sounds like we prefer virtual relationships and don't have time for our friends. But that's only partly true. Lately I have been getting these pangs of guilt that we have to keep friends at arms' length, even though I know it isn't really intentional.

A specific friend will suddenly cross my mind. We used to be close. I used to talk to her on the phone. I have dropped the ball on that friendship. How could I be so thoughtless?

Guilt is usually followed by resolution. I will call her. I will get her a fantastic birthday present this time around. I will win her back!

And then I compose a plan of action...making a to-do list, a strategy to get all those friends back. But then I get confused. And I think...this isn't math class. These are PEOPLE. And what's more, GOD is in charge. He knit us together and He orchestrates all the minute details of these relationships.

But the thing is that I do pray about friendships and I guess at times it just seems like too huge of a task. Too many people to catch up with and too many complicated feelings to deal with. And there is too much of a commitment for me, since I have very little to offer at this point. I guess I haven't really surrendered it fully...


So here is the proverbial elephant in the room, also known as...


SINGLES vs. MARRIEDS

I hate that face-off, because we really aren't against each other. I have plenty of single friends who drop off the face of the earth occasionally!

Actually, let's try this one instead:

PARENTS vs. NON-PARENTS

Lately I have seen a lot of these sort of "open letters" to non-parents, trying to delicately explain why their friends with children have been so anti-social lately. I don't really like when it starts to sound competitive as to who is busier, has more obligations, etc.

But if we turn to reality, we have to face some truths.

Scenario #1: Girls Night Out

I really miss my girl gang! I wish they would still invite me places. I'm still fun to be around, right? One of my friends invited me over for her birthday recently, just in case. I was like, "Is it in the evening?" Of course it was. "I can't. I have to be home to put David to bed." Which isn't to imply that Andrei couldn't handle bedtime without me. But it just seems like a good rule of thumb, to be home to put a small child in bed, you know?

Scenario #2: Sick Baby Arithmetic

1 cold every 3 months w/ average duration of 2 weeks (including Sundays)=

a) How many sermons do I get to listen to in person per year, granted David may or may not attend Sunday school with adult in tow?
b) How many friends do I get to chat with monthly at Bible study if most people come every other week and I leave halfway through to put David to bed?

Scenario #3: Baby Boom

Pastor: "We have lots of interesting/fun/important events coming up! I hope some of you will show up, more of you than have been lately..."
Church members: "We have spouses...and babies...and work...."

(We're not all young and single and mobile anymore. If you compare our church body with 5 years ago, there have been tons of wedding and babies, considering the small size. And we just can't so the same types of activities we could before.)

The logical solution is to put boring people w/kids together with other people w/kids, right? I'll make a confession...I like to think we are slightly more interesting than the average parents. Okay, it gives us peace of mind to know that the other party will not be shocked by David's table manners. BUT...

NON-PARENTS+PARENTS!

...I like to vary the company I keep. In fact, when I was a single, those friendships were really important. There were a couple young moms that I would visit, and they would feed me and ask me how things were going. I didn't know anything! I would sit there dumbly as the mom bounced her baby and heated up lunch at the same time! (Seriously, babycare+cooking is one of the hardest things to juggle! But having grown-up company is nice). When both parties are relaxed enough to not care about the messy house or how the food tastes, it is a blessed friendship!


BABY STEPS

You may recall my attempts to boil down life into very simple tasks when David was a newborn. One of the things on my personal to-do list was "Write or call 1 person." That was an attempt to keep myself out of isolation. And maybe, to lift my head out of the baby fog. We need to think about others' needs and interests sometimes, not just our own.

Well, nowadays I still don't get out much. And as I'm going to bed, I realize that my phone hasn't rung for 2 days. I still have one faithful friend who calls a few times a week, but truth be told, the connection is always really bad and I can't always understand what she's saying! And my mother-in-law is always reachable by phone, of course. And I exchange texts with a few real people who live in the same city.

I hate phone calls, in general. But when I haven't talked to a real person other than David and Andrei the whole day, I realize that maybe it would be good to go back and make my friends a part of my daily life again. I have a pretty social Internet life, but I don't think that's enough.


4 comments:

  1. I get very well what you say here! For me it is a constant balance between longing to be home with my children (I can barely stand to hear a baby or young child cry when I'm away from them - especially overnight), or on the other hand realizing that I haven't experienced a moment of silence in my home (when I was allowed to complete a sentence, or even a thought, for example) in at least 3 days. Of course this desire for a moment of silence leads to guilt that I'm not appreciating every moment with my children enough, and so on it goes. One thing that I can say for myself - if I force myself to get away for a few hours once a week or so, for a prayer meeting or just to catch up with some writing, and let Charlie take care of a meal or bedtime, it is always good for me and for Charlie and the kids. Not always easy, certainly. But I do come home feeling more focused and able to see the wonderful blessing of having 3 healthy, joyful children in my home above the trials. And Charlie gains a better understanding of what it is like in my world. And the kids get some focused "daddy-time" (which is not like "mommy-time" to be sure, but he does always manage to get it done. And its also good for him to know that I completely trust him to do so! :)) Thank you very much for sharing about these things, and blessings to you guys!

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    1. Miki, that makes so much sense! I agree that it is good to get away, for those very reasons. I think I just haven't quite learned how to transition, if you know what I mean. When I am out I miss my family, but I use up all my people energy, and I tend to feel panicky when I get home, like I need to catch up on everything all at once. Especially on a Saturday when I know I will be out the next day as well. I just need to experiment a little to see what format would work well for us.

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  2. Makes so much sense here too. I find I go through seasons of needing time away--like one night in a few months...this doesn't make much time for people. So, I use the time I do have and try to find out what means something to certain people. Some people need "time." Some people need "words."...you get the picture. I don't have it all worked out, but I know it does get easier as the kids get older:). Hang in there as all of us moms need to do!

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    Replies
    1. Seasons-yes, that's a good description. I do keep up with some friends by correspondence, but for those who need "face time" or a phone call, I'm afraid this is not the season!

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