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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Cultivating Friendship

One of the things I value in my life are the friendships I have. I am blessed to have some wonderful women whom I can call my friends. Friendship is not only something I desire, but something I need.

I believe we were meant to live in community. Women need other women to laugh with, support, grow in faith together, pray for, encourage, share our needs and the desires of our hearts. My friends are the people I can truly be myself with.

In her book, In the Company of Women, Dr. Brenda Hunter writes: "We are relational beings....As a psychologist who works almost exclusively with women, I believe in the power of our female bonds to stave off lonliness, to help us flesh out an identity, and to encourage us in the time-honored task of nurturing the younger generation."

Friendship takes time. You have to cultivate a friendship like you would a garden. Webster defines cultivate as 'to promote or improve the growth of by labor and attention'. My friends are the people who improve me as a person through their love and encouragement and also by their example. Once you cultivate a friendship, it can last a lifetime.

I have to share a story about someone I have become friends with since our move to Minnesota. Her name is Gloria. She's a bit older than I am and I love that. Gloria found my blog when I first started writing it in the middle of my depression. She too had struggled with depression. She was also a patient of my husband. He mentioned something to her about my depression. She put two and two together and realized that the person who's blog she had been reading was me. How interesting is that?

Gloria began to message me words of encouragement and then we started e mailing back and forth. I was on the receiving end of this friendship, not having much to give at the time. It was she who was putting the labor and attention into cultivating our friendship. She would mail me funny cards that lifted my mood. I enjoyed her sense of humor! I knew she was praying for me and her spiritual encouragement was much appreciated. I was overwhelmed that a total stranger would reach out to me and care so much.

Several months into our friendship, I still hadn't met her in person. Then her son Jeff was tragically killed in an airplane crash just 6 days before his wedding. I met Gloria in person for the first time at her son's visitation. It was at that point that our friendship changed. It became a two-sided friendship. I needed to pray for and encourage her. We were both there for each other during very difficult times in our life.

Gloria and I meet at least once a month for supper and talk into the night. I love her compassion for others, passion for life and helping others and her sense of humor!

My son Spencer started helping her with projects around her home and she began to mentor him through her experience as a drug and alcohol counselor, during a time he really needed mentoring. She has become like a grandma to him.

I have been longing for new friends since our move to Minnesota 2 years ago. I found it in the most unexpected way. I marvel at how God knows what I need so much more than I know myself. I am thankful for friends old and new. God bless Gloria, Michelle, Brande, Teresa, Veronica, Heidi, Erica, Faith, Kim, Sarah, Rachel and all the women in my life. I am truly blessed!

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.” C.S. Lewis

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