Can Guys and Girls Really Be Friends?

2834CB80-832A-476D-ABD9-485E574B9CF4And there he was. Strolling into my room with some of his own heaviness, sharing the understanding that we were perfect company for each other in that moment. He came in and sat on the edge of my bed. We bounced back and forth about what was weighing us down, did our best to lift the chin of the each other and remind them, they could totally make it through this. And eventually settled into a calm quietness of the comfort of a friend.

Everyone had left at this point, and we sensed he should to. But then something shifted. The air was different than it normally was with us, we both got a little nervous. I had been half working on school work this whole time and looked up from my computer. Finding his eyes made it clear what he was thinking…what we were both thinking.

We had come to this moment we all come to at some point. It only lasts a second, but that’s all it takes for you to step into water that was never meant for you. To end up much deeper than your intentions ever were.

And by the grace of Jesus, we snapped out of it. I forcefully said I had work to do, he clumsily stumbled out of my apartment. And while we endured the most awkward goodbye of our friendship to date, we both confirmed afterward, that we’re really glad we decided to be ‘just’ friends that night. Because now we get to keep being friends and there’s nothing in the way.

Ever been here? Ever been here and made a choice that ruined a lot. Ever been here, and made a choice that made too many rooms awkward, cost you someone you care about, or just added another thing to the complications of life?

If so this post is for you. This post is me trying to answer questions most people probably don’t want to ask out loud, but have been screwing up for a while.

So let’s get into it.

I think a lot of the problem lies in this reality:

We value relationships way more than friendship, and we have an unmet need for intimacy. And I think these two things may be deeply related.

If we back up to square one, we are hungry for intimacy.

We know we need it and want it. But no one taught us (or even acknowledged that hunger in us) (especially if you grew up in the church) how to understand our own need for intimacy, and how to healthy have it with anyone honestly.

Often the by-product of this is latching onto the first person you can have a ‘real’ conversation with. It’s falling in love with someone who ‘gets me’. Sound familiar?

The danger of this is that we’ve mentally associated intimacy completely with romantic love, and when we do this a few things are inevitable. 1) When you stop feeling understood by said person you become confused. 2) You have a deep quality talk with someone else (not your s/o) and immediately feel guilty, afraid you chose the wrong person etc. etc. 3) At best you float through the world looking to be understood by someone, placing tall orders on individuals, and likely experiencing a lot of pain.

These are just guesses. But I think we’ve all be on the search for that ‘spark’ one time or another. But this is what I’ve learned.

We’ve carved an idol from what was supposed to be a normal, healthy, commodity of community. So when we do in fact experience this gift of intimacy (no not physically, but emotional, mental, etc.) that was intended for us to have, we act reckless. We try to claim it as our own so no one can take it, and likely end up strangling it like a baby bird we squeezed too tight. 

The second unfortunate fallout of our misunderstanding of intimacy is that we (or maybe it’s just me) cannot separate intimacies.

I remember one night with a friend (who I was not romantically involved with). We were with a large group of our friends staying at a house, and everyone else had gone to bed. I found him out on the porch looking up at the stars. I love the stars so I walked out, asked if I could join, and we laid there on the porch talking about constellations and how we couldn’t see them like this from the city. Then-get ready, we got up and went to our rooms to sleep.

Crazy I know. But that my friends, is friendship. It is sweet, and special, and truly a gift. But I know the more common ending to that story for me and many I know is at worst: we then proceeded to hookup right there on the porch, or at best, we went to bed wishing we had. Hear me when I say, feeling a ‘spark’ is not always your cue to marry the guy! It’s actually just a gift that Jesus gave us to connect with MANY people, male and female, in different moments, with proper boundaries.

Wow, what a gift to know that ‘feeling’ we all treat like some buried treasure is ready to be harvested in the treasure of the people around us.

Anyway-that potential hookup does not have to be the story!! We can understand that a moment of healthy intimacy with a friend, DOES NOT have to lead to a moment of physical intimacy. The pie of intimacy was not made for us to consume in its entirety every moment, and with only one person.

The third tragedy our misunderstanding has created, is a deep fear in one another. Our lack of understanding in our own friendships, simply signifies that likely our significant other also does not understand the intimacy pie. And when they get more of it from someone or something else, they are likely to harm what you two have labeled as a committed relationship. And even if they don’t, that fear breeds a lot of jealously that simply would not exist if we were confident and trusting in the ‘friendships’ of the people around us.

The good news is, we can be! In fact, we are CALLED TO BE. Actually, more than friends, but BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST. WHOA. This is who we are before and after anything goes down. In Matthew Jesus calls us his brother, sister, and mother. In Romans we’re a part of one body. In 1 John, we are called brothers. In 1 Timothy we’re told to treat those who are older as fathers and mothers, and our peers as BROTHERS AND SISTERS. IN 1 Corinthians, we are told to not sin against our brothers. Proverbs tells us our brother and sister are born out of adversity….

Are we getting this? These are pictures of intimacy. Working together, loving one another, experiencing pain together, forgiving one another-these are intimate events and the bible outlines each one happening with a friend-in fact a close intimate friend. One who is like a brother and sister.

A full life is full of SAFE intimate moments with the people around us. Have we been missing out on the fullness of this?

But Emily, how can I get close to a guy when I know one of us will fall for eachother-and then that just gets awkward.

I get it. But I honestly believe this is an issue of maturity.

I have done all of the below:

Left a friendship because we couldn’t stay on that level.

Agreed with the other person to PROTECT our friendship from romantic elements.

Moved forward in a serious relationship with a once friend.

There’s not a wrong answer, and every situation is different…but if we trained ourselves to build friendships BEFORE dating, we might be able to 1) avoid unwise relationships in the first place and 2) care about someone enough to work through the feelings with them, in vulnerability, and decide together to protect your friendship from complications.

Knowing that every piece of the pie is on the table, but having friend relationships that are so valuable, that you guard them against the pieces that just don’t fit. These kind of friendships are SO possible, but both parties have to be willing, and mature enough to enjoy the gift and not control it. 

I think part of this is waiting for the right people. And not looking over the great one’s you already have. The greatest compliment a guy can give me is being someone who genuinely wants to know me, spend time with me, and care for me as a friend without expecting a physical benefit from it. I love my brothers. They out their ladies.

*This topic is REALLY big, and this is only a scratch on the surface. If you think I didn’t touch a specific thing enough, or have questions on a more specific situation comment or email me at e.beth2014@gmail.com for later posts!

 

 

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Why Divorce (and other things) suck

August 2018

I and so many people go through life matter-of-factly stating our tragedies.

“Yea, he died when I was 13.” “Mhm, she left us when I was nine.” “I’m not sure what happened but…we don’t really talk anymore.” And then we just move on…like those sentences explain why it hurts. And while yes, they are the root cause of a lot of the crap we’ve had to deal with, the pain is in the details.

It’s not until you’re packing your things in boxes that you realize you don’t know where home will be in a few months…so you start labeling them really specifically in the hopes you don’t lose track of them.

It’s going to send a funny GIF to a friend you forgot isn’t there anymore.

It’s remembering the small crawl space in the closet beneath the stairs in the basement was always the best hiding place for hide-and-seek that you mourn not being able to hide there now.

It’s realizing no one was there to teach you how to tie a tie, so now every time you’re a little unsure.

It’s losing the security to “go out and explore the world” because that’s only easy to do when you know there’s home to come back to.

It’s finishing the TV series you started together, alone.

We know when things are supposed to hurt us, but we realize they do when we least expect it.
 

So I guess this is my permission slip, to know now it might not hit until later. And to have the self-grace for when it does.

competing parties

Feb. 2018

I was always taught that nightmares can’t hurt you because they aren’t real. Emily baby, that’s pretend, that can’t hurt you-

But this logic crumbles underneath nightmares of what has already occurred. Because in fact, they are real, and they have hurt me, and the nightmare has now become not a messenger of coming hell, but a madly realistic ride into the unwanted past.

Again and again, every night, reality beeping into my subconscious:

“Keep all remaining limbs in the vehicle while the ride is moving”

And we take off without consent of rider.

That’s what life does, it doesn’t ask, it just goes…

 

Yet, in consolation, I realized this tonight. This elementary understanding, I got it.

Truth is a powerful weapon against the untrue. But what happens when the knife in your heart isn’t a dream, but it’s just as real as the verses of scripture you’ve been told to memorize along with corresponding hand motions. What then.

I’ve been trying to claw my way out of the pit made by the “V” between truth and truth, because they are both true! What happens when I KNOW my God is good, just as I am acutely aware that this pain living inside of me wakes every morning to drag it’s nails along the walls of my hope, and spits its morning spat onto what I thought were securities.

 

When the truth hurts. We’ve got to pray for more than new truth.

We’ve got to pray for stronger truth.

More powerful more lasting truth.

More important truths.

Deeper truths.

Soul saving truths.

 

We’re in the big leagues now.

And like an excavator in the desert, I’ll find this truth. Because I don’t want to wait so I can just chalk up my healing to time and negligence. If I know myself at all, there will be no peace in saying, “it just hurts less now” because I waited long enough.

 

NO.

 

I will find truth that allows me to say, YES, right now, this hurts like Hell. Later, it will probably still sting, it will probably still try to make me believe that people don’t come through, that safe love doesn’t exist, that I’m not enough. But I’m done with the “truth” that says,  “No honey just move on that’s ok.” I’ve got to find the truth that says “Yes. That’s true, but look at this. This matters more, this impacts you more, this can not only revert that damage but can this here baby can redeem that damage. This builds atop a strong foundation that remains…this right here can save you every day if you need it to.”

That’s the truth I’m going to find.

Jesus, that’s the truth you’ve gotta help me realize.

How Peter Kavisnky is ruining my theories on being single

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It’s likely that by now you’ve seen the utterly adorable “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, if only because it’s been plastered to the heading of most of our Netflix’s home pages for weeks. And if you have in fact seen it, you’ll know the movie 1) isn’t really about the boys LJ loved before, 2) pretty much stole the quirky attractiveness of Wes Anderson-esq shots and color schemes and 3) has a storyline that doesn’t really include any singular event that is extremely exciting…
so then WHY do we (i.e. all of Twitter-dom) love it so much?

Well. Peter Kavinsky my friends. Peter. Freaking. Kavinsky.

Which is also a little weird because on paper his character is just about as normal as the rest of the movie, yet so so endearing.

So here I am, Tuesday evening. It was a sick day for me, so I was stuffing my face with the only two things I really trust in Uganda-crackers and (cheap) imported wine, and decided it was a perfect night for this movie. I was genuinely hoping it would be some kind of reflection of all the boys in LJ’s life, that she’d transcend into a high-school version of Nola Darling, and I would go to bed feeling empowered in all of my womanhood. I was ready.

Rather, at 10:45 pm I was ready to sell my entire soul to the Lacrosse goalie of Adler High-MY WHOLE SOUL Y’ALL (good news is, he’s actually my age ;)). Frankly though, I was disappointed in myself. My impenetrable wall of ‘completely fine without a man I don’t need y’alls  blah *explicit blah, I’m just fine here thanks’ literally melted in the hands of a Netflix producer with 100 minutes at his disposal. Who was Will Smith. Will, why did you come for me like this?

And yes, I could have (*read, should have) let this moment slip away into the privacy of my crappy couch cushions, but I guess I just wanted to tell all the girls who had a similar response this one thing:

Your hopes for love, and sometimes disappointment at its absence do not make you weak. You can (will) kill it with, or without a man. Some days of the single joy ride will feel like that. And some nights will feel less like it. And that’s totally okay.

I honestly feel like we’re a little stuck. If you’re in a committed relationship you’re the girl who just ‘doesn’t get’ the struggle. If you’re single and don’t want to be, you need to ‘find your worth in the Jesus, honey!’. And if you’re living life un-bothered you’re at risk of being ‘too’ whatever: feminist, disinterested, independent, fill in the blank.

I guess for me, I just thought I had to somehow prove the moment of singleness. Like the only brave way to approach it was was take it like someone handing me a trophy and give the best dang acceptance speech (even if I’m not even sure I wanted it).

But I-we don’t have to prove we’re anything to anyone. Not your friends, not your family-not your ex. You’re you now and you were you then. You’re growing, learning, becoming someone who knows best how they shine. You don’t have to prove you’re better now. You don’t have to combat the thought of another year of singleness with striving to be amazing in some other area of life. You just need to keep laying the bricks of what you know to be today’s best.

Your value doesn’t come from being with a man just as much as it doesn’t come from being perfectly fine without one. And I just feel like we need to get this.

The boys are, and always will be a piece of the puzzle. But a piece. The Pangaea of your world has plenty of other colliding and drifting land masses. I can weep at Peter Kavinsky (or you know, like other real humans it doesn’t work out with), send my requests up to the Lord, and still very much be a whole, healing woman who’s pursuing her passions and looking great while doing so.

So let’s dream the big dreams right now. If the right guy enters the scene, then great. If not, we’ll build an empire while we’re waiting.

7,671 miles away

I’m not sure what I was expecting-well actually that’s not true.

I knew it wouldn’t be instant of course, not day one instant.

But I thought she was here.
You know, her. The better one. The more impressive one. The one everyone’s been waiting for.

Her. The me I thought was waiting to be picked up here, the me I thought I’d step into straight off the plane. Like a gown that had been hand-stitched for 22 years, tagged with my name and left at Terminal 3.

I was home hoping someone had taken every single one of my personal hopes and disappointments and stitched them into a scarf I could wear in the moments where I sat wishing I would have a been a little better.

But it’s been a little over a month now and…she’s not here.

In fact, she’s no where to be found.

Which means the full space that has been reserved for her is being filled by-you guessed it-me.

I didn’t have an option you see. I came, she didn’t. I’m here now…And in a place where I thought you got to choose who you wanted to be and where some line from some movie about “reinventing yourself” was the news crawler in my brain, it’s nothing like that at all.

Rather than becoming the mysterious me I thought was waiting for me here, I’ve indeed only become very much more of myself.

I have taken that reserved seat and sat in it Indian-style, unafraid of the personal circle I am stretching to accommodate me.

I have taken ownership of my inconveniently loud expressions and of the ways I pronounce consonants too sharply in words. I’ve given up on trying to be good at directions and taken it as a chance to make quick friends when asking for help. I’ve decided to not be embarrassed when I’m putting a smile on someone’s face-I’ve found people to dance with me. I’ve owned the moments when I come off too sharp. I’ve committed to using my words more as a shield and less as a weapon. I’m growing of course, but it really still looks a lot like me.

And I don’t know why, but that’s kind of surprising.

And a little disappointing…

But then also quite exciting.

So.

If you knew me then-if you miss me now, I’m sorry to disappoint, but I’m very much the same. I still trip on things and my cooking is still hit or miss. I still mix up the times when you’re supposed to care what people think and when you’re not. I still can’t sit still for very long, I’m always almost late, and I still tear up at the thought of Jesus loving me.

If you’re holding out, I’d say you should just stop now. Because maybe a year 7,671 miles away will make me her, but what’s more likely is that it will simply make me a more brave me. And who knows, that could be even better.

Hard to want to do again

It’s like moving into a new house, or playing a basketball game.

You prepare for it, the build up is undeniable. You’re ready, committed.

But then when it’s over, when you finally unpack the boxes, when the season ends-it’s hard to want to do again.

You already moved someone into your heart. You practiced teamwork and strategized how to pass the ball.

And now instead of that restful ‘well-done’ feeling, you don’t get to sit.

You don’t get to put the trophy on your top shelf. You don’t get to settle into the new recliner with an old book.

You’re expected to start over…

Love is hard to want to do again.

4 Ways To Keep From Losing Yourself

The full length title of this post is “4 Ways to Keep From Losing Yourself in this Topsy Turvy World” in tribute to a fav Wonder Woman comic quote-HA. But don’t worry it’s only partly about boys.

Last week I was trolling through the overpriced Target housewares section talking to a friend. I felt like a certified woman you know, talking a little too loud about our personal identity crises while picking out the best photo album for the house I don’t even own right now. But there was serious business to handle.

“I feel like somewhere I lost myself. I want to get back…except no one loses themselves on purpose, so it makes it hard to figure out how to return,” my friend said.

And in the moment I didn’t have too much to say back. She’s right you know. None of us plan on getting here, on feeling this way. And though I probably couldn’t describe the feeling itself well, I think a lot of us know exactly what she’s talking about. Whether you’re knee deep into a few year relationship and you stopped doing some of the things you love, your new dream job has become the only thing you think about, or simply the need to fit into what’s expected shooed away some really special parts about you, you get this.

So no, none of us plan on getting here, but we can plan for when we do-or better yet how to guard against it.

Suggested below…

1. Unfollow Liberally 

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Being trigger happy will with the un/follow button on social media is probably one of the most underrated tools we have to protect our minds, time, and joy. Most of us get on social media innocently, wanting to scroll for a moment, check out what yo girl is doing down in Houston etc. etc., and then it happens, we see something that immediately washes a wave of dread, questions, or insecurity over us.

But why do we let this happen?

Whether it’s someone throwing shade, or an ex’s story showing he’s moving on way too fast for your liking, or any other 15 second caption that trips you up when you weren’t even expecting it, these things can get to us.

So, Get rid of that ish. You don’t need it. It’s your name on that account, own it. Make social media your haven and inspiration, not your comparison, drama, or heartache chamber.

2. Keep an ‘I like’ list

This one sounds a little silly, but I started doing this when I got into a serious relationship at the beginning of college. Inevitably, being around anyone who is different than you, you get to discover new places, music, opinions and more, and may even grow to like them. But you don’t have to let your old loves die, even if none of the people around you are into it.

This one is really just about living aware. Noting that you really liked that song in the grocery store, that you actually hate going with him to Sunday soccer games, or that you haven’t painted or created anything in a while.

3. WRITE down your Destiny Cues

You guys I absolutely LOVE this one.

Above my bed is a copy piece of paper that reads Destiny Cues. And like an actor or actress on the backstage of life, I truly believe God gives us small whispers of what is to come. These whispers don’t always need to be shared, but writing them down is a beautiful way to see His kindness when they happen! And to give you hope and direction when it seems like life has no direction.

Want proof? About 9 months ago I wrote on there that I might be going somewhere with an international organization to work with women’s rights.  This was before any applications, offers, etc. And now I’m going to Uganda. There are Destiny Cues laid out all through life, don’t miss them.

4. Have other voices.

Sometimes the best way to keep yourself to hear out people/things that are very different than you. Our generation lives in an echo chamber, we are boldly outspoken about everyone having their own opinion, but vehemently against listening to anyone’s but our own. Open up the airwaves. Don’t let your twitter feed be your best friend. Be willing to be wrong.

The most grounding other voice for me is that of the Lord. The world can feel like a tornado of expectation sometimes, and I always need the voice of the actual bible to help me recenter on what is true.

That’s it! Keep yourself, grow yourself-you’re no groupie my dear, and the world is better when you walk in that.

xx