One Simple Thing That Changed My Friendships

I've had a recent epiphany regarding friendship, and it has so profoundly changed my outlook and attitude about my village that I had to share.  

If you've had conversations with me, undoubtedly at some point the topic of friendship arises. I don't know if I'm abnormally obsessed with the topic, or it's because it's been one of my main pursuits since moving to Tacoma, or if it's just a normal topic that comes up when you are getting to know people; regardless my desire to be in community and that no one should go through life feeling alone is what you could say preoccupies my thoughts.

But I've been thinking about it all wrong.  These last 6 years I've lamented to my husband about my lack--I would compare my friendships locally to my tight knit, super close friendships I left behind when I was single in San Diego.  I've spent these same years in prayer over friendship and wanting more out of friendship.  I've misinterpreted the silence of texts that were never responded to, taken to heart the repeated response of "I can't make it," as rejection, and suffered with enviousness of the social media posts that didn't include me.  I've got a serious case of FOMO.

I would say I'm a pretty confident person, but my desire to be part of a tight knit "tribe," and feeling like I wasn't, was drowning me in self doubt and insecurity.  (It's crazy, at 39 sometimes I still feel like a 14 year old girl).

This seems so cliche and basic, but I changed my heart and attitude.  I listed out all the women in Tacoma that I'm grateful for.  These vary from women I literally met with for coffee last week to women I've known the majority of the time I've lived in Washington, to women I admire and still haven't gotten to know yet.  I'm in prayer over these women.  My level of friendship with them all vary widely; I'm not hoping that I become BFF's with all of them, but I do desire to know all of them better.  

Re-read that last line.  That's the key.  I want to know THEM better.  Some of these women have yet to even meet me!! And the ones that do know me, I am not THEIR priority.  I was so in my own head whenever someone, flaked, said no, or put off time together with me. I know I'm not alone when I say, "I'm ALWAYS the one initiating."  And when our invites are constantly being turned down I think it's human nature to just write people off.  That's how TheVillage253 started!  I was so tired of feeling "rejected," that I said, screw it, I'll find new friends.  (You guys I'm soooooo mature). 

I wish I could say that I matured faster than I did, but it was only in the last couple of months that my perspective changed after reading a book called "Frientimacy," by Shasta Nelson. (Book club anyone?) I look at friendship so differently now.  I'm just so grateful.  Grateful every time someone says yes.  And when people say "I can't", instead of feeling slight rejection, I think, "way to have boundaries!" (I certainly need help in that area). 

I have a local friend who I met about 3 years ago.  She says "no" to me 9 times out of 10. I've always initiated our get together's.  It would be so easy to write off the friendship; I've thought about it multiple times.  My past insecure mentality would make her "no's" about me. Women are notorious for making up elaborate stories in our heads of what someone else might be thinking about us, or we backtrack in our minds of all the ways we could have possibly offended the other person and then stay up all night with anxiety about a made up problem that never existed.  And then we build up anger or resentment because the other person never confronted us on how we hurt them.  And then the story somehow becomes real in our head and months go by with these made up offenses and hurts that never once crossed the mind of your friend because NONE OF IT EVER HAPPENED. If you have no idea what I'm talking about you're either a unicorn or you were born with a penis. 

Anyhow, regarding said friend, instead of getting hung up on her "no's," I'm choosing gratefulness for her "yes."  I want my default in all relationships to be gratitude and grace. I want to deposit affirmation without expectation of reciprocation.  (Please, for the love, I'm not saying that friendship is all about give, give, serve, serve and never receive).  Friendships have to be mutually beneficial to flourish, but sometimes getting out of our own heads and simply being a sincerely good friend without expectation is exactly the tipping point that your friendship's need to grow.

Gratitude.  It has this way of transforming our hearts.  It defeats the negative self talk, overcomes the doubt and insecurity and makes us the type of person people want to be around. Who are the friends you're grateful for?  When was the last time you told them?  I bet you'll both feel pretty darn good after you let them know.   

Ruthy TaylorComment