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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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 

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

Have You Been Here? Pt. 3

They can’t. (*Here’s a good place to go back and read Parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t.)

I’ve tried.

Those things in Pt. 2 can’t fix the brokenness all around me. They can’t make me believe in love or fix marriages or make me confident or satisfied or purpose-filled. They can help yes, but they can’t do all that and sustain it too..and I think most of us have experienced this truth.

And this place or realization feels really, really hopeless.

But this my friend, is the great reversal.

In a world where failed attempts at control equal hearts left aimless and discouraged, this is where we begin.

On the path of faith, this is the first step. It is called ‘surrender’.

In a world where “I’m sorry” is never really enough to heal the wounds we so easily inflict, in this new world “You’re forgiven.” comes first.

In a world where each of us have PhD’s in wall building, we can realize they are all made of sand. And the walls we build may keep out the people, but they certainly don’t defend us from the tidal waves life sends in.

In this new world the place of “I can’t” comes a new louder voice of “You don’t have to.”

In the places that feel very alone, comes someone who says, “I am always with you.”

In the moments where you have onloaded every failure to improve, self-manage, self-promote, self-help, and have realized that you tried and failed, “so why am I still here.”

A very generous, and kind voice, comes in from the back and says,

“It’s not your job to save yourself from your story.”

And suddenly the weight is lifted.

Have you been here?

*****

If you’ve been in any of these places, from Pt. 1, 2 or 3 I’d love to hear from you in the comments. I know there’s power of knowing people get it, that you’re not alone, that the episode you’re living in isn’t as unpredictable as it seems. So do it down there!! xx

 

 

Have You Been Here? Pt. 2

“You gotta be rich to be insane, Hol. Losing your mind is not a luxury for the middle class.” And in a painfully relatable quote from a your favorite movie, you know they are right.

Because time isn’t afraid of the messes we make. It never backs away from its work or steamrolls quickly by in an effort to leave us behind. It consistently, reliably, carries on, and us with it.

Time certainly does not heal wounds, but it distances us from them a bit, and in that distance we are able to more clearly see the potential for healing than when we were in the eye of our storm.

The people who were going to stay stay, and the ones who were going to leave are gone. You realize that most of the paper planes flying around in your head all those nights eventually land on their own.

But even so, even when the dust settles, even when we are ‘getting over it’, that feeling, it’s still not whole…

Have you been here? You know when your friend calls to check in, and you give her the “I’m really doing better” followed by a list of proofs that show it’s true.

I know I know, I believe in the healthy lifestyle. The balanced days, the steps towards equal measures of gym time, me time, service time etc. on the path to the best you.

But there has got to be more…right?

Even on the best days where the check list is completed and my own self-satisfaction is at its peak…

there has got to be more.

There’s got to be more than balanced lifestyles, Keto diets, ‘family first’ mantras, the year of the ‘focus on me’, #hustlemore and #dailyinspo etc. etc. etc.

I’ve got to believe these things are the garnishes on an already fullness…they certainly can’t patch me up on their own.

Can they?

***

Read the “Have You Been Here?” Series from the beginning starting here. Or here for Pt. 3.

Have you been here? Pt. 1

I’m sorry.

Not because I loved you, but because I’ve never seen the side of me that hurt you before.

I guess I always knew it lived in there somewhere, but my self-righteous past made me believe it would never grow into something anyone else could see or feel.

I didn’t just hurt you you know, but you and someone(s) I really care about….and myself.

And now I’m walking into a place where my greatest desire is to love, and I’m looking around the room seeing people I need to dodge.

What was once a family reuinion now looks like tip toeing around a minefield of hearts-some of which I planted myself.

It makes you ask the question, “What happened?”

And I guess if you stay somewhere long enough the lines of hurt start to tangle around places you frequent like subway lines, but I like to hope those one day become veins of forgiveness.

It’s a hard thing for a man to become collateral to another man’s sin.

But I’ve watched this play out more clearly now than ever, and it really is a testament to the urgent words in Ephesians 6 that we only seem to bring up when trying to pat down a problem we don’t fully understand-

The words that say, we aren’t at war with each other, but with the roaming, hungry spirits.

You can’t damage control sin, and this is why that living scripture is both a warning sign and an ointment for black eyes after the fall out.

What better way for the darkest side to gain strength, not by killing us, but by turning us against one another. By smearing our names in the sand with the tongues of what we thought were safe people.

What better way for evil to distract us through lingering stares and bitter regrets.

“I’m sorry.” feels like a child’s weapon against the darkness, but use what you have.

****

Challenge Time

I’ve been reading a book called “Renovation of the Heart” and in it the author writes:

It is common today to hear Christians talk of their ‘brokenness,” But when you listen closely, you may discover that they are talking about their wounds, the things they have suffered, not about the evil that is in them.

I know I know, you’re thinking Emily, why must you always bring the hammer on my perfectly nice day? Well because I truly believe, a new freedom comes when we look in the mirror not with shame but with brave honesty. When we can stand before the darkness inside of us, it loses a little more power to hurt others, and that my friends is a victory.

What do you need to face today? (Either with yourself or with someone else)

Read Pt. 2 here.

Logistics got me sweating

Here again.
Not catching my breath, overwhelmed with the logistics of this life.
Trying my best to flip and turn puzzle pieces into their sisters places.
Trying my best to sort out the insignificant because I can’t get a hold of the of the
important.
But then I realize there are pieces on the floor I’ve been missing all along..
and under the rug…
and out the door.
There are pieces too far for me to reach, this is not my puzzle to solve.
In fact it’s not a puzzle at all.
But a story that you’ve written and are now producing. 
A story in which my leading role looks more like a reclined position than hunched over in strife.
A story in which I am less responsible for piece making and more responsible for peace making. 
I’m sorry I’ve spent so much time believing you were soverign over my life, but not over my next week. 

Heart Maps

Recently I was driving to meet a friend with another friend in the car. Everything was going as normal until my friend in the passenger seat asked, “Wait, why are you going this way?” To which, I responded, “What do you mean?” My friend in the passenger seat redirected me to what was apparently a more normal route to the coffee shop we were going to, a route in which I honestly had never used. And just like that I realized, I had never learned the ‘normal route’ using main roads.

I had learned to get to that coffee shop based on a landmark, a landmark from my past. I hadn’t realized it, but I had been navigating my way to several places orienting myself around this one place. I knew how to get to the grocery store, from that point. To the coffee shops, from that point. To my friend’s house, from that point. I had never considered that when the relevance of that place ended, it was no longer the best route.

And then I just sat. How long have I been orienting my present around past landmarks? How long have I been taking the same way home, driving past pain points because it’s the only way I learned.

This might sound ridiculous to you, because unlike me you have a great sense of direction and can quickly find new ways to get from point A to point B…but even if you aren’t doing this in real life, we all do a little bit of it in our hearts. Even when we know we need to leave a life landmark in the past, we always seem to find a way to drive back by. Check in, see if anything has changed…see if it still feels like it did a few years ago.

But I recently got smacked with a Bible Study one of my friends wrote. In session three she came around John and taking up your cross daily. I had never realized that implied moving forward. I had never realized Jesus is rallying beside us, cheering us on to keep taking steps, to not slow down. It’s like He’s saying, “You may have some things to carry, but I’ll help, we can’t just stop here honey.” I also certainly never realized the cross I was denying to pick up, the cross that was keeping me from moving forward was my simple refusal to do so.

Jesus wants to rewrite my heart maps, he doesn’t want me driving down those old roads anymore.

So this is the ode to learn a new way. It’s okay that those places once meant something to you, and it’s okay that that isn’t how it is anymore. They can hold those memories just fine without you checking in.