Shared Story about Group 1
This group reminded me of when I was working with friends to help a family in need through a volunteer service group. We took turns going to visit a mother and her pre-school children to see what we could do. Over time, we got people to donate food, clothing, and used household items. One member of our group wanted to also provide spiritual support in the form of prayer and devotional guidance. I was uncomfortable with that. I didn’t want there to be any strings on our service. But others thought it would be harmless and joined in. The effort was well-intended, but I wasn’t enthusiastic and avoided leading that part of our visits. A a result, I eventually heard from a friend that this member was looking for a different team member who was more “God centered.” What I couldn’t explain then was that I wanted us to give the woman a chance to offer her own thanks in her own way–or not. I should have suggested that. But their enthusiasm had overwhelmed my doubt. And then, after I disappointed them, and was disappointed in myself, I pivoted away.
I thought I was good friends with a person who lives in another town. She’s outgoing and friendly to everybody. We’ve known each other for about 5 years. I knew she had different circles of friends, but she seemed to be the kind of person who had a lot of room in her heart. We emailed back and forth and liked each other’s Facebook posts. And even though we didn’t see each other that often, when we did, we just picked up wherever we left off and had a great time. We kind of lost contact for a while, and then saw each other several times within a month or so at events, and had a lunch date that was fun until a friend I didn’t know came to our table, hugged her, and they both started crying. She said it was good to see her, and her prayer warriors were fighting for her. I couldn’t believe she hadn’t mentioned anything about something so serious. I was embarrassed and hurt. I didn’t want the other friend to know I didn’t know (whatever it was), but I knew my friend knew I didn’t. It was horrible. I wasn’t her good friend. I was on the outside of her circles. Worse, I couldn’t think of anybody in my circle. I wanted to excuse myself and hide in the restroom. Her rude friend finally left. My friend wasn’t saying much. She was caught off guard like I was. But I couldn’t let this go–the news, the opportunity, and what I had thought was a friendship. I asked her what in the world had I missed, told her how much I appreciated her, and if she wanted to talk about the situation–anytime–I wanted to listen, and never talk about it in public! We’ve remained friends and I’m content that I did the best thing I could have done under the circumstances. And then I realized I’m not a circle-of-friends person. I’m a friend-on-friend person, one at a time. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
It took me a long time to tell my friends about my husband’s affairs. They liked him. They had heard a few rumors, but told me that they had defended him, and not to worry. I knew it would be hard, even to just say it out loud, but I wasn’t anywhere near prepared for their reactions. One of them looked at me like I had betrayed him, not the other way around. She didn’t say anything comforting. She just looked away. The other one was really upset. Not about his affairs, but that I might agree to a divorce. She started pleading with me to be strong and not give in. That I had to understand the fate of my family was in my hands. I had to defend myself to the very people I thought would help support me. During my divorce, my sister gave me a Nora Ephron book. She’s funny and I needed a laugh. But when I read the part about women friends, I cried. She wrote that sometimes it’s OK to leave friendships behind. Untended to. To trust myself to know that whatever began that friendship and kept it going can expire or go dormant under certain circumstances. I had already left these two behind, but somehow reading that part in the book made me feel less of a failure. And then, I laughed because I knew exactly what she was talking about and knew I was ahead of the curve.