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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

working it out

I was talking recently with a friend about our inevitable upcoming move to Boston and friendships and best friends and the like. Truth be told, I’ve always been a best-friend kind of girl. I like to have them, to hold them close. I like to work hard to love my friends well and in general, I just like women. While I’m a massive introvert and need time alone, a coffee date with two or three of my closest tends to bring a good amount of joy to my heart. I had best friends in college, who stayed best friends. I had a best friend in Charlotte, who became my best friend who moved to Seattle when I did. And sure enough, I’ve made some best friends here. That phrase starts to sound silly after a few sentences right? Like a seventh grader asserting her claims and wearing matching bracelets.

Anyhow, my wise friend was telling me that it was really beautiful the way she saw her mother kind of working out her salvation at home. She knew her mother had friends and had accountability, but if it was a bad day – she didn’t rush off to a coffee shop to meet some women, she prayed right there with her children. Which of course got me thinking about my own life and sanctification and the role I allow my family to play in it.

To start the dialogue, I turned to my very best woman friend ever, my sister. I asked her what she thought – because she’s a best friend kind of girl too, and she agreed. It was sort of a novel, fresh idea. Instead of striving to make our husbands chief of our relational worlds – what if they just were? What if on bad days and good days, our kids were allowed to see the work of the Spirit within us and we shared with them the praise of His name when fruit began to grow? She agreed, it was something to think about – and more importantly, if that was the way the Lord led my heart – it would be essential to give Glory a sister so she has a built-in best friend before she meets her husband.

The whole time I was discussing this with my sister, we were skyping so we could see each other’s sweet faces, and my husband was sitting on the couch nearby. When I brought up the topic with him, his response was really beautiful and wise because he pointed out the fact that most of the big issues I mull over in my heart are not taken to him first. He reminded me of a few big things I’ve been praying through and thinking through – and how he’s seen me talk to other women about it and not necessarily ever mention it to him. Even this new idea I’ve been thinking about, I talked to my sister about it first – without really asking his opinion.

What a shame, right? Here I am, with this complex and confusing heart that is kind of desperately wanting to be grown by Jesus and I bypass the one person (and the three little people) who see and feel the effects of it daily. My thoughts, prayers, big ideas, dreams, fears, desires, and convictions tend to stay locked in my head until I have time to package them up neatly and give them to women for consideration or sit down in a quiet space and type them up.

And of course, there is something to be said for protecting your family a little. The last thing that needs to happen is me confessing me body image issues to a two year old or collapsing on the floor in front of Nick to rehash my day when he walks in the door. But what if I gave them my prayers and confessions first? If in the middle of a fit of despair, I sat on the floor and asked the kiddos to pray and read the Word with me, rather than reaching to text a friend? What if I made more of my relationship with these four other amazing people in my family than I did of the handful of women the Lord has blessed me to be friends with? It would be so beautiful if my husband was more than my “best friend” in theory, if his company & council was sought after quantitatively more and not just figuratively more.

So I’m still overwhelmingly thankful for the women God has put in my life. I still want to enjoy them, sharpen them, skype with them, laugh with them and give them all those things in return. I still want to learn how to be a better friend, how to encourage and spur and listen well. But for now, my chief pursuit in the area of relational living will be learning to work out this beautiful salvation at home. With my four best friends.

13 comments:

Annie said...

I think about this a lot. I am a talker and somewhat of a verbal processor so calling someone seems to be a natural step, BUT I tend to do this before I talk to God or Ryan. I'm working on the prayer piece the most right now, just making sure I stop and talk to my Father about it first.

Leigh said...

Love this Jess. I think a lot of women are this way, we run to another friend because they understand the "emotions of being a woman/mother/wife/sister/daughter". We either want them to tell us we aren't crazy, tell us to snap out of it or help us figure out what to do instead of first seeing what God or our husbands think about what's going on in our hearts.

And i love love love the praying with your children first when you are having a hard day, I can see those days in my future and I am already praying that I can put things like this into practice for the sake of those two little blessings!

Teresa said...

As mothers we protect our loved ones by working things out before we present it in the "best light". I have learned in hind sight to present the issue as best we can to our mate, let them process it then discuss it together. I would give anything for a "do over" in certain situations from the past but I have learned to do this now and it is rewarding.

Clara said...

thank you for your timely blog. last night, someone presented to me the opportunity for an accountability group. it scares me. it scares me a lot.

unlike you, i don't have a sister (which is why i'm so glad for my girls to be only 17 mos apart). i don't even have a best friend (though i've gotten close a few times). oddly, i do go to my husband for everything (sometimes too much). and my children get to hear my "dialogue" (sometimes loud and inappopriate) with God.

but i'm not sure i'm completely ready to be vulnerable with other women. it's okay, even essential to confess my sins (those dark ones i don't even like to think about) to others in a safe environment. my husband and my children see those sins firsthand in the safety of my home with no audience. and even if it would surprise my potential accountability gals about my probably-not-as-secret-as-i-wish-they-were sins, why do i care? the goal is for iron to sharpen iron. i want to be sharper, but i guess i'm a little scared about the process.

Kelstar said...

hmmm...this was sooo good and something that i have been trying to figure out in marriage a lot and is one of my biggest struggles...because for 30 years i have been going to my closest girls for pretty much everything and for every adventure...and its hard to change that mindset around...but day by day you try a little bit more...and i think i am getting there. but you might want to ask joel for a second opinion. :)

staci said...

good thoughts jess. going to think about this some more. love you.

lauren said...

thanks for this blog. sometimes i know what i've seen examples of in my own life and what i am (or want) to be about, but i can't always express them well in order to truly grasp them. you help me.
one note... while i think it would be amazing if glory-girl got to have a sister, i'm not sure i totally agree with it being necessary. why could she not grow up a)seeing you turn to the Lord to meet your needs even before Nick and kids (and thereby look to Him as well) and b)have you, her siblings, and mentor women in her life to meet some external needs to be known?

kim said...

YES!

michelle said...

hmmm. i really always secretly admired girls who have lots of girlfriends and hang out all the time and do things and the such. probably because i've never really been that girl :) i think i tend to keep things to myself or share them with dave, but i really don't tell him all the details of most things. just certain things. i think it gets harder to share everything as a pastor's wife because you kind of get used to not giving people full disclosure. there's still this solitude even in a crowded room.

i really like these thoughts about being vulnerable (in appropriate ways) with our children, and showing them that we rely on Christ, not just our friends or ourselves or our husbands. this seems like a great way to teach kids (especially as they get older).

and hello?! of course you need a baby quatre (my mom is adamant about girls needing sisters for some reason, too. even despite the fact that my sisters and i, though close, are not exactly bff's).

we'll go for #4 together ;)

Jessi said...

A few things.
a) I didn't expect this many people to comment on this.
b) Annie & Lauren, and all others who hit that vein. I think you're right. Going to the Lord first is the REAL lesson there.
c) Theresa - I think there is probably truth to both sides of the coins. I'm probably guilty of getting obsessed with "the best light". And I feel a little careful about keeping my sin and hardships to protect them. I genuinely want them to understand the redemptive process to dealing with sin, rather than just being exposed to it - which they inevitably will.
d) Clara - I'm DEFINITELY a fan of healthy accountability. I say do it, take a chance!:)
e) Stace - I love you more.
f) Lauren, I definitely think you're right and I also think my sister was kidding a little because she just really wants me to have another baby.
g) Michelle - outside of this issue, I think the Lord kind of let me in on the news that there will in fact be a quattro. So, yeah - that's something we'll need to tackle together - in like sixteen years.

inthemiddleoflife said...

hmmm. hmmm. hmmm.
love your thought process, as usual, but have to disagree with the conclusion as I read/hear it.
as you know, I've had many seasons of best friends. some were blessings, some were life-shattering and this current season is by far the best-best-friend season. But it came after a 5 year drought when we moved here and after The Hubby spent many hours on his knees praying for a godly best friend for me. His prayers were answered and my life is so much richer for it. She is accountability, affirmation, conviction, encouragement and long coffees all rolled into one. Our husbands love when the 2 of us have time together, because we sift through the un-righteous and sometimes just female-perspective stuff that would have put a strain on our marriages. And when I say sift, we really do sift it out with Truth--because my friend believes and models Eph 4:29: "let no unwholesome talk come from your mouths, but only what is helpful for building them up according to their needs." Very challenging for me to live this as she lives it.
Probably a difference in what you're describing though is that she/I only talk really once/week. That keeps us taking the greater questions straight to the Lord and our husbands. Great thoughts though. Could make an entire study out of these questions Jess.

Anonymous said...

i have learned the same exact lesson not in FULL, but in part.

thank God for His present Spirit to convict us of these things. if it weren't for that uncomfortable feeling, that taking of what is not mine - on someone else's turf w/o being invited - what you called the feeling of shifting in your seat uncomfortable in that bible study one time - then we would never know the path to freedom.

maybe that made sense. thankful for His staff to show us these things. He is mighty prevalent in your home. and mine!

Michelle said...

Love your thoughts on this and they really provoked me to think about it. Thank you for your transparency and realness to talk about this. I'm going to ponder over it....

Michelle