Counting OnGrace

Monday, August 6, 2018

Friendship Day 2018

© 2018, 8/5/2018 Chantelle Henderson

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines the following as a friend. Right after that is a list of synonyms, also from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
A person who has a strong liking for and trust in another really close friends who like to do everything together and are always sharing secrets.
Alter ego, amigo, buddy, chum, compadre, comrade, confidant, confidante, crony, familiar, intimate, mate [chiefly British], musketeer, pal.
When I woke up, I had no idea was National Friendship Day! The moment I found out, I went to a place in my heart that holds precious and sacred memories of those who have supported me in the past, the present, and Lord willing, the future. It’s interesting because two of those slots that are taken would have been filled by two people who are no longer a part of my life-at all. But I do not grieve. It doesn’t mean that I don’t care or that it didn’t affect me. I just knew I had to let go if I wanted there to be room for the ones I have now. Amongst the obvious smile and laughter is a stranger who is now one of my best friends. I’ve only known her for a little bit over a year. But when your heart connects to someone else’s heart, you just know. Three of these women I have known for 24 years and one for 30! I say that, to say this-true friendship, (meaning a real tribe of women who have your back and you have their’s) knows no space or time. It only knows love, joy, laughter, and dancing. Your bond is also forged in the furnace of the afflictions we face in life. It’s the result of countless tears from pain and soul crushing seasons. Sisterhood is also found in the ocean of laughter, sometimes so hard that your side hurts, tears from laughing so hard turn your face beet red, or you’re drinking something and they say something so hilarious that you spit your drink out all over them and yourself.
It doesn’t have to be perfect. I have yet to hear a story about a real friendship that hasn’t experienced misunderstandings, hurts, or even being pissed off at each other. When all is said and done, it all comes back full circle. You both say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you. Can you forgive me? What can I do to make it up to you? What do WE need to do to move forward and on to better and bigger things? Let’s make this right because we’re in this thing called life forever! You’re one of my four quarters.” Many times people have asked me, “Tae Tae. What is this four quarters business you always speak of?” Well, there’s a quote about friendship by an unknown author. “I would rather have four quarters than 100 pennies.” Years ago I really enjoyed 100 pennies. It was a blessed and fulfilled season in my life. As I grew older and wiser I became keenly aware that boundaries are important, if not vital, to a successful friendship. I learned through experience (both good and challenging) what is healthy in relationships and what is not (for me personally); what I am willing to accept, or let go of. I came to the conclusion and acceptance that 4 quarters really is all I need. When I say 4 quarters, I don’t mean just four friends. It’s a metaphor. I also love my acquaintances. They too are a part of my tribe in their own right and I need them in my life too! They are not an afterthought or “spare” friend. They have great meaning in my life and heart as well.
When Jesus was nearing the Garden Of Gethsemane He left other disciples behind and only chose to take three Apostles: Peter, John, and James. There are moments and seasons when you are in a place of great suffering, uncertainty, and deep, personal, life altering circumstances. That’s when you take your Peters, James’, and Johns with you. The others were not “left behind” because they didn’t matter. They just were not meant to go with Him to the garden. They were not assigned to travel the treacherous, winding, sacred, and secret place that was a part of Him enduring the greatest suffering known only to our risen Savior. Even Peter, James, and John did not comprehend the eternal consequences of their prayers or lack thereof. Jesus came out from the garden and found them sleeping THREE TIMES! I say that to say this: Give grace to those people in your life who are “sleeping”during your battles. What any friend WANTS to do, desires to do, is to join you in the fellowship of your suffering through prayers, words of encouragement, and to be with you in your greatest time of need. That’s great in theory, but in reality they may be too tired or are living through their own garden experience. Just say to them, “Sleep on.” Don’t get mad at them. Love them with the same strength you would as if they were awake. Also, when someone is facing a giant in their lives and they don’t share it with you until after everything is said and done, don’t take it personally. Don’t allow jealousy and envy to take root because you weren’t invited to the “garden party”. It’s not about you. It is about them. Your role may be that of a “bouncer”. You are in Jesus’ tribe for sure, but instead of going into the garden, you have been assigned to guard the entrance to ensure that it is not breached and remains closed so others can’t enter. Maybe your purpose in any given situation is to pray, fast, and intercede for your friend. You don’t have to know every single detail of their storm to do that. Just be on shore when their ship comes in. No matter what “level” of friendship with someone, just remain loyal. Don’t lie. Be honest. Be real. Be transparent. Be a safe person. Be a keeper of their secrets. Be available as you are able. Make sure you are giving as much as you are taking. Have realistic, healthy boundaries and communicate them to each other. Don’t set high expectations on the other person that are impossible for them to live up to. Make allowances for each other’s faults. Don’t say anything about them to anyone that you would not say to their face. Tell each other, “I love you!” every single opportunity you get. Let them know they make a difference in your life. Shower them with hugs. Cry with them. Laugh with them. And sometimes, just sometimes, sit in silence with them. Don’t try to fix whatever is “broken” in the situation. Just be there.
I’ll leave you with this example. About 4 years ago we relocated back to Georgia from Florida I was super excited!!! FINALLY we were back home! Once the excitement of arriving wore off I looked around and there were boxes all over the place. The unpacking and the tasks involved in it was too much. Because I have severe lower back issues, I couldn’t do anything and that was very frustrating in and of itself. I was in a deep hole of depression and isolation - very deep. Through a friend I went to high school with, I became great friends with his wife. Beyond great. We met for dinner with them less than a month after relocating back to Georgia. We had an extremely obvious heart connection on the phone but especially when we met face to face. You know how you tell people, “If there is anything you need, don’t hesitate to call me!”? What is the usual response?, “Oh. I will let you know! I promise.” We said that to each other often and meant it. Most people don’t think they’ll have to use the “I promise. I’ll let you know!” card. The day came when I so desperately needed it. I just could not get out of bed because I didn’t want to live life that day-literally. I decided to swallow my pride and actually reached out to her, my lifeline. I took this precious sister of mine up on her offer. I was very honest about my anxiety and depression. Without any hesitation whatsoever she asked, “Okay, what can I do? Tell me.” Through tears and hyperventilating so much because of them, I asked if she could pick Jeremy up from school for me and bring him home (30 minutes each way- bringing him home then going back to her home). She did not hesitate to say “YEP!”. When she dropped J off she sat with me for a bit just hugging and loving on me. I WILL NEVER EVER forget it.
Unfortunately, my depression lasted for days which turned into weeks. One afternoon my best friend and nephew came over (without me asking) and she told me to “get my ass out of bed”. I whined and complained, telling her I could not do anything. She let me lay there for a few minutes in the bed, blankets up to my neck, but then said, “Okay. GET UP! Physically you cannot do anything. However, you can get out of bed, sit on the sofa, and tell us where to put everything as we unpack boxes.” So that’s what I did. Before she left, just about everything was in its’ place. There were little things here and there but nothing I could not have managed to do on my own.
Those are two examples that were defining moments in my personal relationship with them and eventually others.
I want to encourage you to take the time to reach out to your tribe, one by one, whether it’s a hundred pennies or four quarters, and be intentional and heartfelt about telling them what an amazing gift they and their friendship and sisterhood or brotherhood means to you. Tell them specific qualities they possess that endear them to you. Speak out loud the ways they make your life richer and fuller. Sometimes we need to hear it-not just on World Friendship Day, but every opportunity you get.
💚 ; Tae Tae