Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Friendship For Grown-Ups - Honesty
***This is a post I wrote back in November of 2011, came across it today, and thought it was worth re-posting. This is a great book, with much wisdom.**
A few weeks ago at the Women of Faith conference, I had the privilege of listening to one of my favorite speakers of all time........Lisa Whelchel. She was exactly as she has been all the other times I've seen her......delightful, funny and honest about herself and she reminded me of how much I loved her last book, "Friendship for Grown-Ups".
This book is small in size but big in great advice on how to maneuver through friendships.....even as a grown-up, (which apparently, doesn't get any easier!)
I'm always telling my kids, that as unfortunate as it is, even as grown-ups we have to navigate the waters of friendship and sometimes we sink! You would think it would get easier as you get older, but I haven't found that to be true. I think age just adds to the list of complications you have to overcome to have and be a friend.
In this book Lisa is very honest about her difficulties in finding those true and lasting friendships. She covers so many topics about finding "safe" friends, drawing boundaries, being honest in conflict and walking away when the time comes. These are all based on her own experiences as she tried to open herself up to grown-up friendships.
Two of my favorite concepts she talks about are brick building and imagination balloons.
See if you can relate to either one:
Brick building - a "brick" in a friendship is the beginning of a "wall". Every time you have a disagreement with that friend, a brick is laid down. Then you experience a disappointment with that friend and you lay another brick down. If you don't take care of each brick, as they appear, then before you know it - you've got a wall between the two of you. You can probably think of one or two relationships, right now, where there is the beginning of a small pile of bricks that need to be broken into bits, so they don't turn into a wall.
Sadly, we have a tendency to just keep piling on the bricks, until the wall is too tall and menacing, so we walk away. I wonder, how many friendships could have been saved by just taking care of each brick as it appeared?
Imagination balloons - These are like those little dialog balloons in the cartoons, where one person is talking and the other is thinking something at the same time. This happens all the time in friendships, but it looks like this:
(As Lisa writes in her book) - She calls her friend on the phone and immediately her friend says "Can I call you later?" Lisa says "Sure" but when she hangs up the phone, she instantly creates a balloon that says "Huh! She didn't even take time to talk to me! Something must be wrong or she doesn't want me calling her anymore." Can you relate?
Because of some action on our friend's part, we instantly create a dialog balloon and fill it in with all kinds of things that we are imagining to be true.
Thankfully, when Lisa's friend called her back, she explained that right when Lisa called, her dinner was ready and she wanted to eat it while it was still hot! Can you imagine how that one small incident could have turned into nonsense, had the friend not called back right away?
As women, we are always dealing with outside influences that affect our emotions; whether it be hormones, the stress of home, kids, husbands, work, etc., and we let that spill over into our friendships.
Instead of being honest with one another, we assume and create these imagination balloons and fill them in, without the other person even being aware of what's going on. Dangerous stuff, ladies!
Unfortunately, the only way to deal with bricks and balloons, is honesty. And that, sadly, is easier said than done!
When was the last time you were honest with a friend? This covers so many aspects of friendship. Are we honest when there is conflict? Are we honest when sharing our imperfections? Are we honest when sharing our hurts, our mistakes, our sins?
Why is it so hard to be honest?
Fear of conflict....that's what keeps us from being honest. But is it fear for ourselves or for the other person? Are we avoiding honesty because it gets uncomfortable for us or because we don't want to hurt the other person?
I think we all struggle in the area of honesty - just in different ways.
You basically have two kinds of people, when it comes to being honest: the one who tends to speak their mind and the one who doesn't speak it, but shows it.
I've always been the one who tends to speak my feelings and this has caused many bricks and balloons, I'm sure! Not everyone appreciates honesty; especially when it hits you like a ton of bricks! Speaking the truth is not always pretty and it takes maturity and God's hand over your mouth, to learn to do it correctly and with love. I'm still a work in progress!
On the other hand, I've been the recipient of the other form of "honesty" (which I really don't consider to be honest), which is the "kind" honesty. This is where the person "beats around the bush" with their actions and just ends up avoiding you because they don't know how to come out and say what's on their minds.
I remember experiencing this many years ago in a friendship that was really special to me, and it hurt me more than if that person would have just been honest with me about what she was feeling. Instead of just talking to me and telling me what was coming between us, she just began avoiding me and making up excuses as to what was wrong between us. It got us nowhere and eventually we lost the friendship all together. In her mind, she thought she was being "nicer" by not telling me what was wrong, but just moving on (she confessed later on). Well, it wasn't "nicer" and it didn't make her seem any more righteous than someone who might have confronted the issue with love and gentleness. In fact, I found it dishonest and deceitful and much more hurtful in the long run.
I see this happening with my kid's friendships at times too. It's painful when it happens to me as an adult, but it breaks my heart everytime I see this happen to one of my kids.
It leaves you wondering what went wrong and you don't even know how to fix whatever it was, because there was no honesty to help you along.
Yes, honesty is hard. It's uncomfortable. It makes you squirm and turn red and want to be anywhere but where you are. However, the rewards can be growth and a stronger connection, if you allow love to be your guide.
As Lisa says: "Ironically, in almost every situation where I have taken the initiative to confront issues before they grew, the result has been a more tender, yet more solid, relationship."
If you have an "honest" relationship, hang on to it!
If you have trouble in this area, pray and ask God to help you manage conflict in a more honest way.
Don't let the bricks stack up and don't create balloons where they don't belong.
We want our friends to hang around! It would be a lonely place without them.