Tuesday, February 5, 2013

52 Weeks of Giving: Week 5 Debrief

Normally, when I recap a week I talk about what the kids have learned but these past couple of weeks have had me in the hot seat and although the kids are learning I feel compelled to talk about what's been stirring in my heart.

Week 5, before 'the break,' was about praying for the people who are annoying or mean or irritating. This is something I've done for a number of years and seriously, it has brought me peace and a deeper understanding that people aren't really morons, sometimes they are just drowning in their own stuff and they don't realize how they are affecting others. I'm pretty comfortable with myself on this point so I didn't expect the growing pains that have been mine these last couple of weeks.

I have a pal who has been walking a rocky road in one of her other friendships. There has been misunderstandings that have lead to hurt and a break down in that circle of friends. I've spent some time talking this out with her and encouraging her to keep on keeping on. I know exactly how she feels because I've been in the same boat. Seriously, who hasn't?

Ladies, I'm talking to you now.

What's with us? Why is it so hard to walk in grace and drop hurt? Why do we so desperately cling to offence and our right to be right? Why do we so often choose pride over relationship? Why can't we recognize that we are each walking our own path, each facing our own struggles and we could each use a little more grace and a little less judgement?

There is this fire inside me to see women come together in friendship, in unity for the sake of our families, for the sake of our communities, for the sake of ourselves. I know that there is tremendous power in true friendship. I know that there is a deep well of love, esteem and appreciation in the heart of every woman for those they hold dear. I know because I have experienced it in my own heart and in the hearts of my closest friendships.

I also know that there is no one who can bring pain, hurt, envy, jealousy, strife and heart break like a woman. There is no being on the planet more calculating, vengeful and destructive to a woman than another woman. I have seen women crushed, devastated and humiliated at the words of another woman. I have seen self esteem crumble in one just by the mere glance of another. Its true, that old saying, those who you love the most have the greatest power to hurt you.

So why do we do this to each other? Why do we do this to ourselves?

I don't know. But I have an idea of how to stop it, how to move beyond the hurt. This goes back to the Week 5 Challenge. Prayer. It was while I was praying for some of those I find difficult to love that I had an IGIM ("I got it moment") about chicks and relationships.

Relationships have seasons.

Okay, I didn't say it was a new revelation or some kind of major epiphany. Its just something that finally clicked for me. Relationships have seasons. I finally figured out what this means to me and to my friendships.

I used to hate hearing that phrase. I thought it was flippant and dismissive and an excuse to quit when the going got tough. I would lament for years when I had a falling out with a pal or lost contact with someone. It would bother me to no end that I had this floating string just hanging there, off of me, where a person used to be connected to me. But something clicked these last few weeks and here's the second part to that IGIM, the part that made everything snap into focus for me ...

Reconciliation doesn't always mean a return to relationship. Sometimes its a coming together so you can part ways peacefully.

I think we, women, torture each other in friendship because we don't know how to let go gracefully. We hold tight to a relationship that has run its course, we love until we hate. We are so afraid of being alone that we often times choke the life out of a friendship in our desperate attempt to keep it close. I know I have. But I have also seen the most remarkable thing when I let go, when I yield to the natural ebb and flow of friendship, when I release my death grip in favour of opening my hands and heart to life. I have seen life and light and growth.

In recent years, when I have felt the drift of time, distance and circumstance enter one of my friendships I have taken a deep breath and let go. I haven't withdrawn or retreated. I haven't pulled away from the relationship, I've relaxed. I've accepted that sometimes things change but I have also left the door open to continue the relationship in a different way or at a later time. I have honoured the friendship enough not to suffocate it to death. And in this I have found a sense of peace and unity in my relationships that I have never known before.

I'm not sure if this is making sense. The thing is, we can have unity while we go our separate ways. We can have community apart because true, honest to goodness sisterhood is about respect and grace, not about hierarchy of friendship. Life comes from respect, not comparison and judgement. Authentic relationship is about celebrating our uniqueness and living with grace.

There is more to this, more to be said but for now ...  pray for each other. Respect each other. Love each other enough to let go and grow.

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.  ~Ivy Baker Priest

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