Category: Friendships

Review: Nobody’s Cuter than You

You may remember of the time when I told the whole world that I just loved Melanie Shankle’s books. Sparkly Green Earrings and The Antelope in the Living Room are some of the funniest books ever. They kept me laughing out loud and I couldn’t put them down.

Melanie has a new book out, Nobody’s Cuter than You, which is a memoir about the beauty of friendship. In it, she shares the stories of the women in her life who have impacted her, the lessons she’s learned from her relationships, and just how essential girl friends are in our lives.

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As expected, Melanie brings her witty, down-to-earth charm to her book, making you feel like you all would definitely be good friends if you lived next door to one another. I must admit that I didn’t laugh as much in this book as with the others, but I was equally as hooked. I love her and her BFF’s, Gulley, relationship. They are like sisters, holding each other up during the hard times, being real with one another, going on crazy adventures, and caring about each other’s mundane. I think that’s when you know that someone is a real, deep friend- they ask and listen to your everydayness.

Jake and I sometimes talk about friendships. Because we’ve moved around a lot, our friendships with people get cut off before we have time to put in the face to face, REAL LIFE hours that it takes to really know someone. The time to share your stories, learn each other idiosyncrasies, watch them parent, see them upset, work through conflict, and make lots and lots of memories.

It also takes confidence to reach out and make the initial contact.

It takes energy to invite someone over for dinner.

It takes a miracle to have a good conversation at the above dinner if you have kids under the age of 5.

It takes courage to ask someone to step into your life, a life that is not perfect and has its rough edges.

It takes vulnerability to lay down the mask first and allow someone to see you without the promise that they will lay theirs down too.

Mostly, though, it just takes time. Time to invite.Time to say yes. Time to come over. Time to drop by (does anyone drop by anymore?!). Time to relax with one another. Time to drink a glass of iced tea. Time to run an errand. Time to do a favor. Time to watch a movie. Time to take a day trip. Time to go shopping.

Nobody’s Cuter than You is a great reminder that although it costs something to have deep friendships, they are absolutely, hands-down incredibly worth it.  

 

Thanks to Tyndale for the opportunity to review this book! 

Developing friendships at ages 5 and 35

A couple days ago, my daughter walked all the way home from school holding hands with another Kindergartener that she met only a month or two ago. They quietly hung back behind the rest of us, talking, holding hands, and examining all of the interesting nature trinkets they could find.

It got me thinking about childhood relationships and how easy they were, generally. You meet someone and just start playing. You have fun, run around, chase each other, tell each other secrets, and decide that you are Best Friends Forever after an afternoon of play.

It’s not always so easy as we get older huh? Not only do you have to decide if you and potential friend have enough in common to get along, but there’s also those other subtle, unspoken “tests” that friends have to pass.

Tonight I was reading a great article about making friends over at The Art of Simple. The author shared a part of a New York Times article that described a few of the secrets of making close friends:

“As external conditions change, it becomes tougher to meet the three conditions that sociologists since the 1950s have considered crucial to making close friends: proximity; repeated, unplanned interactions; and a setting that encourages people to let their guard down and confide in each other, said Rebecca G. Adams, a professor of sociology and gerontology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. This is why so many people meet their lifelong friends in college, she added.”

It’s pretty hard to accidentally do that these days, especially for stay-at-home parents. Let’s be honest, there’s not too many “unplanned interactions” for moms of multiple young children. Even going to the bathroom can be a calculated decision! So what does it look like to invest in others at this stage in life?

I think the author of the article brought up some great ideas (eating together, texting one another throughout the day, meeting needs before they’re spoken, teach each other things, etc.)… what would you add to the list?

 

Relationally Nomadic

I don’t think God created us to be relationally nomadic.

Over the past 6+ years of marriage, Jake and I have lived in 4 cities, 2 countries, and at least 8 apts/duplexes/houses. Our three kids have not known to live in the same place for more than a year.

God has blessed us with caring family- both biological and spiritual. They have been supportive as we have moved from place to place, and have helped us work through the cycle of excitement, loneliness, anxiety, questioning of decision to move, and celebration of settling each time we move. The trouble is that by the time we move, we have only just started to build those kind of relationships where one feels known by the other.

My heart desires sustained relational community. Our growing family loves one another and we have a ton of fun playing and working together. But, Jake and I need adult friends to do all of those “one anothers” with…. encourage, dream, argue, discuss, sharpen, love, play, work, minister. Our kids need friendships that endure; they need other adults in their life whom they can build trusting relationships with and go to when they need non-parent advice or encouragement.

Each time we move, we have to start over. We get to a new city where no one knows us. Although we are initially excited to “start over” and “develop new relationships” and “explore new discussions” and “experience a new place in the world”, we find ourselves longing for familiarity, for deep relationships, for people who know us and have helped create us. As we move around, we are beginning to see how different people in our lives have helped us to change and grow in certain ways. How thankful we are for that.

But we just want to be rooted in one place, with relationships that will be constant. We want to learn what it is like to be faithful to a community, and them to us. We want to make traditions with a group of people. We want people to know and love our quirkyness- our odd parenting style, our nonsystematic theology, our desire for peacemaking and environmental care, and our annoying way of questioning everything and always feeling a need to stir the pot. We’ve discovered that those characteristics are not often welcomed.

I’m thankful for the internet, which allows me to stay connected with some of those friends we’ve made. I get to have “discussions”, read about their lives, and see pictures of their kids. But you know what I want? To play games in our living room. To stay up late on New Years Eve, with all our kids piled in another room. To create family friendships where all the kids feel like brothers and sisters. For my kids to have “second moms and dads”. To know a city with familiarity. To be able to drop by someone’s house, unannounced but genuninely welcomed. To be able to say, “I’m not sure I believe that” and not be looked upon as a heretic. To have my gifts welcomed and utilized in a faith community. To make dinner together.

Relationships like that take time- people in one place (or a common place) for a long time. Do people even do that anymore? I don’t know, but it’s something I’m longing for.

I’m relationally exhausted. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of starting over. I’m happy to do the hard, long work of sustaining significant relationships, but I’m weary of beginnings. And I’m uncertain of the ability to sustain significant virtual relationships.

Las night as I went to bed with this ache in my heart, I felt something inside me say, “Tiff, you feel this weariness because I didn’t create you to be relationally nomadic.” But what happens now?