Exceptional Girlfriends: Why We Need Them
Is There Variety in Your Friendship Garden?Click thumbnail to view full-size
Choosing Great Friendships
I was at my niece's wedding shower last weekend. Whenever I attend family events, I feel the natural urge to take pictures. I love to document life, people, events and nature as they really are, not as they appear to be.
As I was asked to take a picture of my sister and her girlfriends, I paused to reflect on the friendships I have, and the value they add to my life. It caused me to appreciate the incredible gifts that I have received when spending time with my amazing friends.
Each my friends are like a good deep-tissue massage, they soothe in places you hurt and give you a retreat from the everyday stress of living. These times of just hanging out together are like a refreshing pool of water, you feel invigorated to face the next challenge.
After a conversation or lunch you leave relaxed and connected to yourself, reality, and often to heaven. They serve as vital lifelines in when I am in turmoil emotionally or need help healing physically. They also become cheerleaders when I don't feel like I have anything left to give or I am stuck in my thinking.
Sometimes they serve as "Post-it" Notes; reminding you of what you have accomplished and your place in this world. They help you laugh when you least expect it, and give you small gifts and/or cards that communicate your value to them. You know what I mean, the timing is on target because you are in essence, sisters of the heart.
Good friends surprise you and sometimes call you when you are just thinking of them, and vice versa. They have taught me over the years how to be a better friend, mostly when I have let them down. My friends tell me the truth about me because they know me.
I welcome information that helps me to grow in my relationships at any cost, even my hurt feelings. I fret over hurting anyone, and yet do so unintentionally. Sometimes a dose of humility is in order and they have helped me keep that in perspective by administering it regularly.
This is my tribute to my beloved and closest friends, with only some of their beautiful attributes. I consider them exceptional flowers in my friendship garden:
Nikki, my daughter is an elegant rose. She beautifies things wherever she is found and no matter what little snippets of time we gather to talk, leaves me enriched by her freshness. She and I have been through the deepest of seasons together in her early years.
Regardless of my mostly less than exemplary life as an adult, she is loyal beyond imagination. She survived years of transition while I was searching for answers, and somehow has managed to weave that into her present-day experiences with a blended family.
Nikki, too has survived loss and functions as more than a survivor; having cared compassion for the father she loved so dearly. Although she lives without her father who succumbed to cancer, she remembers him openly, and tearfully without apology.
Nikki has a busy life, but always has time for others, although her family is clearly first in priority. She has an incredible network of a variety of friends with whom she expresses her humor and spontaneity often. She lives with her own set of difficulties, allows herself to feel, speaks her mind, and is a champion for the hurting.
Erin makes me laugh, no matter what she's going through. The road to her house is entirely too long, albeit beautiful. Her mothering skills are commendable, she actually converses with her children intelligently and regards their individuality with great dignity and fosters mutual respect.
She can do anything she sets her mind to, organizing chaos on a regular schedule. We talk about life and everything else, and all I have to do is think about her and the phone rings, just the sound of her voice lifts my spirits. She makes life beautiful for her children and for me. She is a reminder to me that there is always more to live for!
She is real with me about her struggles, enabling me to do the same. I have a tendency to keep things hidden inside, she draws them out by being authentic and safe. Her secrets are safe with me always, confidentiality is huge to me, I don't hang out with gossips, they are frightening to me.
Martina is my tenacious friend, skillfully managing her five children with unconditional mother love like I have never seen before. She teaches her children while she holds them accountable, never losing sight of her responsibility, and without much support from their dads or the state.
She faces life squarely and rises up from the difficulties without blame. Excuses are not part of her repertoire. She just makes things happen when life doesn't work. She always finds time to return my calls no matter how busy, and she usually calls me first when I am hiding from life's blows. She teaches me how to perservere and how to say what I mean. She is my reminder not to complain about how hard life can be.
The recent birth of her fifth child, Kuper was a reminder that life takes turns, and we get to choose how we respond. She has done well under the questioning of others regarding all that, not that it is really any of their business. She also reminds me that boundaries are healthy to keep some people out of your life because they will keep on hurting you if you don't.
Kristen is the newest of my friends, intelligent, fun, athletic and never has a dull moment in her life. She, too, makes me laugh being with her is always an adventure! She is a discoverer who lives life to the fullest measure. She is real and teachable, yet I learn more about myself in every conversation we have. She is loyal, and knows how to give back, and wants to. She is my reminder to find joy and live life like today may be all you have.
Chris is my compass, she points me to growth, and because she is my older sister, sits on me until I get there. She knows me best of all because we have been together pretty much since birth. She is wise about letting me struggle until I am ready to share, but sometimes knows when I have just been isolating from sadness.
She been through many of my seasons, all of them and I believe I have told her most of my secrets, except the ones only God should hear. She feeds me every time I see her and makes me feel safe and comfortable, because that's who she is. You can't go to her home without feeling welcome, unless of course, you choose not to be.
She helps me belong in a world I seldom understand because of my sensitive, defensive nature. She has mothered me, and kept me alive in my difficult moments, nurtured me back to spiritual, emotional and physical health through her tender touch.
Ellie is my spiritual friend. She has deep values, little judgement and great compassion. She loves me when my heart is good, bad or indifferent and calls me to higher places, without saying a word.
She just plain understands, and that is needed. Going places with her is easy and uncomplicated, because she finds joy in the simplest things and events. An added bonus to this friendship is that her teenage daughter Amanda usually accompanies us, and she is loving and unpredictable, keeping us both from being boring or routine. Ellie is my reminder that life goes forward, and there is always something better on the horizon.
Shirley and Jackie are my cheerleaders....they never let me stay down after the round is over. They regularly give me much needed hugs and when they say they love me I believe them. I have lunch with them once a week, but it never seems long enough for the deep exchanges and fun that we have. I don't see them as often as I could but when I do, life is better!
Margarita is my cross-cultural friend. She came from Spain, and we in America are lucky to have her. She is energetic, industrious, caring and doesn't let me hide when I am hurting or feeling small. Invitations to her home are frequent, and when I join her we plan first, then go on exploring tours around the city. These excursions allow us to more about each others likes and dislikes. When we are in a larger group of women, I become an interpreter because of her thick accent, which I love. When it's just the two of us, we have no problem with communication because it's a heart connection and we finish each other's sentences without thinking about it. Margarita enables me to remember how important it is to engage and interact with everyone graciously. She is a blessing in that respect, and pays attention to the lovely variety God has placed in this world.
It is a natural tendency for us to form cliques with people who are just like us, so we can be comfortable, but with my friends, I feel like they have all been hand picked to bring out the best in me and subdue and refine the worst. For that and for them, I am eternally grateful.