So this is how the first day of school went for us. We all walked cheerfully and excitedly the half mile between our front door and the door of Pumpkin’s classroom. Then as we entered the school building, my daughter got more reserved, slowed her walk, and eventually stepped into her new classroom head bowed, hands to her mouth, and tears forming in her eyes.
The meltdown that occurred came out of nowhere for me.
What in the actual world?
I got home and sent out several SOS text messages to friends. Skillet, still home with me because his school doesn’t start for another week and a half (UGH), was content to watch a little TV and play some ABC Mouse while I processed and prayed through Pumpkin’s out-of-no-where come apart. But around lunch time, he got wise to us just being all lazy and asked to go somewhere.
So I did something I never do. I called a friend and flat invited myself over.
A quick Pinterest search for “friendship quotes” produces hundreds of warm fuzzies on what friendship means. Well, some warm and fuzzies. Some downright scary. What most of them, warm and scary alike, have in common is a tall pedestal.
These quotes and sentiments and aspirations read as if friends should have telepathic powers. Something about knowing the song of our soul and singing it back to us.
I don’t need the people in my life singing songs to me. Not mention that I’m not entirely sure what the song of my soul even means. Besides, if I can have only one song, then I want out because I adore too many songs to just pick one.
What I need from my friends is for them to laugh with me and listen to me gripe about my kids (I so love them) (and I am so grateful for them) (BUT…) and dream big dreams together. I crave cheerleaders and encouragers and women willing to meet me where I am, offer me a seat at their table, and do life together. But not some cleaned up, got-it-all-together, Instagram-worthy version of life. Just a real, sticky, messy life.
When I invited myself over to my friend’s house this week, this is what we did. I helped stir the food she was prepping for dinner, swept the floor, took down some old birthday decorations, fixed lunch plates for littles. She put dinner together, vacuumed, fixed lunch plates for littles (yes, they were that hungry), and washed dishes.
And we talked our the way through all of it.
I’ve spent days with my work from home mom friend while I packed up my entire house for a week long beach trip, helped put out food at a friend’s party because I can’t stand to JUST STAND, cleaned dishes, wiped down tables, fished leaves out of pool drains, and watched kids jump waves at the water park while mom took a potty break ALONE.
Our homes do not have to be perfect, our hair tamed in a beautiful top knot, our kids on their best behavior (HA! did you laugh?) for our friendships to be meaningful and fulfilling and beautiful and yes, holy.
I believe we all need to just SIMMER DOWN on our expectations for friendships. And if you, like me, feel you have room in your life for plenty of friendships, let’s talk about what we can do BASED IN REALITY and not tarot card readings hunting for our soul’s song.
Stop Searching For and Start Looking At…
Friendships come in all shapes and sizes. We have friends we can have deep, soul-searching, big-dreaming conversations with and we have some friends who we laugh with a lot and talk about the silliest of little things.
We have friends who work full-time and part-time and from home and from an office and from coffee shops. Friends who volunteer like it’s a full-time job and friends who quietly give behind the scenes.
We have friends who minister in their classrooms, their living rooms, their pulpits, their front yards, and their prayer closets. Introverts. Extroverts. Introverted extroverts. Empty nesters. Full nesters. Nesters waiting to be filled.
Maybe some of them know each other, maybe some friendships are a group thing, maybe some know none of your other friends. Not one of our friends come from the same exact place or are going to the same exact place.
We’re not Taylor Swift. So can we please stop with the squad goals dream? Stop dreaming of our “tribe?”
All kinds of people from all kinds of places in all kinds of roles are acceptable as friends so let’s stop looking FOR a “tribe,” some mythical unicorn of friendships with a large group of women who all love the same things, live the same way, and have incredibly good looking hair. Instead, let’s start looking AT the people literally already around us. We need to stopping searching and start seeing.
Stop Performing for People…
Listen, we already know whether you are a hard-core neat-freak (me) or a hard-core lover-of-mess (she who shall be not be named). We already know if you work super hard outside the home and just don’t have the margin to fold the laundry after you’ve washed it. We already know if you have help to do all of that stuff so you can focus on other things. And the other people in your life probably do too.
Stop waiting for the house to be clean or the laundry to be put away or a good hair day.
Be you. With all your mess. And let others be themselves with all of their mess. Focus on soul stuff instead of actual stuff stuff. No one needs another perfect performance, a Pinterest worthy table centerpiece, or hand-churned butter from the cow in your backyard. They just need you.
Flip side? If you have a friend in your life who loves creating those jaw-dropping kid parties or cooking up mouth-watering meals, or always has a clean house, let her be. For the love. She’s not showing you up. She’s being exactly the person God created her to be. Stop assuming she’s putting on a performance for you.
Stop Believing Friendships Will Heal the Ache…
We all feel it, right? That deep, soul-craving ache for relationship. We want to be seen and truthfully, we DESIRE for someone to know us so well and so honestly that they could tell us about ourselves when we forget.
No friend, no husband, no child, no degree, no job, or literal song is going to fill that ache.
That ache was created specifically, placed in you intentionally, to be met by God alone.
Your friends cannot give you what only God can. He put that ache in you to draw you to Him. He heals the ache. He meets the need. He reminds us who we are when we have forgotten. He knows the song of our soul, whatever that is, and only He can sing it to you.
Jesus, the friend of sinners. And that’s all of us.
He will heal the ache if we ask.
I am amazingly grateful for the women in my life. Women in my circle, near and far, seeking to live their lives rooted in Him and overflowing with thankfulness. Women who let me wash dishes and sweep floors and set up tables of food. and pack suitcases. Women who laugh with me and dream with me and listen to me vent when my kid melts down…again.
If you do not have friendships in your life, sit down and ask God to show you. Draw a circle around you. Where do you go, when do you see people, who lives next door or down the street or sits on the same bench at gymnastics with you every week. See them and reach out. It’s scary, I know. But people are worth it.
And then don’t put them on some pedestal and expect them to be all things to you for the rest of your days. Put God in that spot. He created it for Himself. I think He’s earned it. And then watch how what you receive in healing from Him begins to sweep out into your friendships with others.
Especially when one of those friends invites herself over following her daughter’s first day of school meltdown.