Friendship

Posted by Jen

“It is because of the refusal to be vulnerable that, far too often, instead of enjoying friendship and intimacy with those around us, we find ourselves fencing with each other, using our talents, achievements, and strengths as weapons. To be vulnerable in the true sense does not mean that someone must become a doormat, a weakling, devoid of all pride, going out of his way to let others know all of his faults and weaknesses. Nor is vulnerability to be confused with the idea of ‘letting-it-all-hang-out’, or any other form of psychological strip-tease. To be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be able to present ourselves without false props, without an artificial display of our credentials. In brief, to be vulnerable is to be strong enough to be honest and tender. Like Jesus, the person who is vulnerable is a person who cares enough to let himself be weak, precisely because he does care.”
Ronald Rolheiser, The Restless Heart

 

Stirrings :: Friends

Jen
I have had a couple of interesting weeks.  My daughter is hitting one of her first big lessons on friendships. We have touched on so many topics in the last few weeks.  What do you do when someone doesn’t want you around?  What do you say to others?  What is gossip?  Then there are the questions that I face: “Do I get involved?  What do I say to encourage her?  What do I do about the blame game?  How do I build for her a foundation of identity and security?”  Here are a few of the conclusions that I have drawn with a little help from my friends.

Friendships are essential in our lives.  There are seasons to our friendships.  Each friendship is unique.  We can’t be friends with everyone.  Unfortunately, not everyone is going to like us.

I have been preoccupied with several things lately, but parenting seems to be on the forefront.

What to do when someone doesn’t want you around?
This is some of the best advice I have gotten from my dear friend and mentor, Muriel.  She has raised 3 amazing girls and has had her share of challenges in raising them.  I often call her when I feel I am in a drought for wisdom and ask for advice, “What do I do?  There are girls saying they don’t want to be friends with her, in several hurtful ways.”  “Jen, you tell her that there is always someone who needs someone to play with.  Tell her to go and find that person and play with them.” she calmly reminds me.  This advice is really simple and really good.  Here is Muriel and her daughters.  I love all of them!

Muriel also shared a story about her oldest daughter who was often picked on in school.  She said to look at her now.  I must admit she is one of the best people I know.  My mentor went on to say it taught her daughter compassion and character.  Could it be true, that being picked on in school is not always a bad thing?
Our pediatrician told us a story about his son who was made fun of in school.  They encouraged him to find someone who needed help and to help them, to be their friend.  He ended up helping the special needs kids in his class and he was happy doing it.  He has grown into a man full of compassion.  As a high school student, he became a teen with many friends and was well liked; he had an amazing heart towards special needs kids.  He would go to special events like dances and races supporting and encouraging his special needs friends.  This heart grew from not being liked by a few kids in grade school accompanied with good parenting.  As a high schooler he could be well liked and move outside of the norm and exercise kindness.  I think that takes a ton of character for a teenager!  Now he is excelling as a man of integrity and courage at the Naval Academy.

What do you say to others?  What is gossip?

Even if something may be true, it is not always prudent to say it.  I have been teaching my daughter that home is a safe place where she can tell me anything.  It is hard to teach an 8 year old about gossip.  Okay, it’s hard to train myself to have self-control in my speech.  My daughter and I are reading the Harry Potter books together.  We are on book 2.  I have been using the characters as lessons.  Draco Malfoy says mean things to Ron Weasly.  Draco reminds Ron that his family is poor and all the things he has are second hand.  Are these things true? Yes.  Is it nice to say? No.  We don’t want to be a Draco Malfoy.  When you go and find another friend to play with, don’t gossip about those who rejected you.  You will be tempted to say things that may seem true or even be true, but saying them is not kind.

I did it.  I said it.

There will be times when you say something mean, or when you do something mean.  You will hurt people.  I used the example of siblings and even our marriage.  Scott and I can say and do mean things to each other.  We are human.  We are going to make big messes and hurt people.  I know in this case that my daughter is not the victim, nor is she perfect.  She is a person in a relationship.  There are always two sides to a story and all of us make mistakes.  My advice to her is to own it.  Maybe she did say something mean about that girl, so admit it and apologize.  We are going to be a family who believes in the power of forgiveness in our own lives and the lives of others.  We know that we have been forgiven much by God, so we will forgive and we will be humble and ask for forgiveness.  We will admit when we are wrong.  We will work on our stuff!

What do I do about the blame game?

He said, she said, they are…  I am taking this one back to Harry Potter.  Harry doesn’t go around moping and blaming others, saying, ‘Draco is being mean to me.  Poor me, my parents are dead.  No fair, Snape is picking on me!’  What he does is acknowledge his circumstances and then he lives his life.  He is thankful for his buddies Ron and Harmonie.  He can’t wait to play quidditch and he fights for what is right and what is good.  Put your energy into the good and positive things in life.

Do I get involved?
My mentor and those close to me with older kids whom I trust say, “You will be tempted to call the parent of the other kids.  You will want to, but don’t.”  I keep hearing it; it’s really hard, but the theme is don’t talk to the parents about your kids issues with each other.  First try and let the kids work on it.  If it needs to be brought up to a teacher or a coach, try to encourage them to talk to the teacher or the coach.  I am not saying that there are NEVER times when parents should intervene.  If you are anything like me I would do it often!  I am trying to teach them character and courage in tough situations.

Friendships are life long lessons.  I still have people who would rather be friends with someone else than me.  I have things I say to hurt people.  I have been left out and I leave out.  I have been kind and I have been a dagger.  My friendships have brought me hope, adventure and life, and they have left me empty.  If I got my security and identity from how I am fairing in my relationships with my friends I would be like a bottle tossed at sea.  I would be at the whim of many things that are out of my control.   I know that the most important thing for me in working on issues in my life, is knowing who I am, knowing that my identity is in Christ.

Building a Foundation

I can honestly say the only way I get through the ups and downs of my life is because of my foundation in Christ and what the Bible says.  I want this for my girl and for my family and my friends.  Here are some core truths about us from the Bible put together by Priscilla Shirer.  I hope that these will be the firm foundation on which my daughter will stand.  This is round one of a life time of relational challenges.  You won’t believe who Christ says we are in HIM, it’s pretty awesome.  This is a long list!  As I was typing it I found a few that I really needed to hear today.  I am doing a GREAT Bible Study of Priscilla Shirer’s called Can We Talk?
Identity In Christ
I am a child of God (John 1:12).
I have peace with God (Rom. 5:1)
The Holy Spirit lives in me (1 Cor. 3:16)
I have access to God’s wisdom (James 1:5)
I am helped by God (Hebrews 4:16)
I am reconciled to God (Romans 5:11)
I am not condemned by God (Romans 8:1)
I am justified (Romans 5:1)
I have Christ’s righteousness (Romans 5:19; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
I am Christ’s ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20)
I am completely forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14)
I am tenderly loved by God (Jeremiah 31:3)
I am the sweet fragrance of Christ to God (2 Corinthians 2:15)
I am a temple in which God dwells (1 Corinthians 3:16)
I am blameless beyond reproach (Colossians 1:22)
I am the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
I am the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)
I am a branch on Christ’s vine (John 15:15)
I am God’s friend (Proverbs 3:32)
I am chosen by Christ to bear fruit (John 15:6)
I am a joint heir with Christ, sharing His inheritance with Him (Romans 8:17)
I am united to the Lord, one spirit with Him (1 Corinthians 6:17)
I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
I am a saint (Romans 1:7)
I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
I am chosen by God, holy, and dearly loved (Colossians 3:12)
I am a child of the light (1 Thessalonians 5:5)
I am holy, and I share in God’s heavenly calling (Hebrews 3:1)
I am sanctified (Hebrews 2:11)
I am one of God’s living stones, being built up in Christ as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5)
I am a member of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation a people of God’s own possession and created to sing His praises (1 Peter 2:9-10)
I am firmly rooted an built up in Christ (Colossians 2:7)
I am born of God, and the Evil One cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)
I have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
I may approach God with boldness, freedom, and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
I have been rescued from Satan’s domain and transferred into the kingdom of Christ (Colossians 1:13)
I have been made complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)
I have been given a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Timothy 1:7)
I have been given great and precious promises by God (2 Peter 1:4)
God meets my needs (Philippians 4:19)
I am a princess in God’s kingdom (John 1:12; 1 Timothy 6:15)
I have been bought with a price, and I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)
I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)
I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
I am  assured that all things are working together for good (Romans 8:28)
I am free for any condemning charges against me (Romans 8:31)
I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35)
I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected (Philippians 1:6)
I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
I am a personal witness of Christ’s (Acts 1:8)
I am God’s coworker (1 Corinthians 3:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1)
I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 2:6)
I am God’s workmanship (Ephesians 2:10)
I can do all things through Christ, who gives me the strength I need (Philippians 4:13)


Which one of these is your favorite today?

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