As 40 fastly approaches (one week to the day as of the date of this here blog post) I am most appreciative of the maturity that has been cultivated in me and mine these 20 years. One of my dear friends has been visiting and though it’s not under the best circumstances, I’ll take it.
When you’ve been friends for decades the friendship holds so much weight to it. So many memories. A lifetime in fact. And as a single, these types of friendships have been the closest things to marriage that I’ve experienced.
They are definitely what I would call “covenant relationships.”
I’m listening to “The Light We Carry” by Michelle Obama and in it, she shares about the effects of friendships adding to our lifespans. For the first time ever I wondered, “Could I live long simply b/c I have so many great friends?” The thought filled my heart with warmth and brightened my perspective.
One benefit of having such long friendships is growing together. We have truly grown and evolved together. Even over state lines and sometimes even country lines. And even though we have gone through very different life stages and experiences, it seems we learned the same lessons. We were enrolled in the same school of Holy Spirit.
Looking back I see our hearts, though in the right place, did not always exude the wisdom they have now. The character they have now. The knowledge of healthy living they have now. Healthy living being all-encompassing and ranging from our thought-life to our eating habits, to our physical health, and spilling over to our function.
This particular friend and I both grew up in environments where codependency, abuse, and substance abuse were the norm. We didn’t know that functioning dysfunctionally was abnormal. It was our normal. So of course, we brought that way of thinking into our relationships. Into our friendship.
I remember in my early 30s consuming so many books on emotional and behavioral health. After losing a dear friendship I was motivated to look inward. My heart was pricked by seeing my own unhealthy function and I thirsted after being the best version of myself. But in this quest I also harbored resentment. Why was it that I was just now learning these key emotionally healthy ways of functioning when my middle-class suburban counterparts seemed to have known this stuff much younger? Why was I so late in the game?
But in my older years (older meaning, now) I understand that sometimes we get things on the backend. Sometimes we are a little late to the party, but the party doesn’t really get started until we get there (insert wink).
One important teaching I accumulated during this time of maturity was the necessity of boundaries. I had never been privy to this knowledge in my 20s and most of my close friends had not either.
When you are the first, the first college student, the first to wait for the right marital partner, the first to not have children out of wedlock, the first to own property, the first to start a business, the first to break the generational curses in your bloodline, there is a lot you don’t know. You are the first, so there was no model before you. In my case, and in the case of my friends, well, Jesus was the model.
His Spirit led me to pursue purpose and in that leading, I became a better version of myself. And my friends did too.
In this season I marvel because I can see that we are now practicing healthier habits with one another. We are not just reacting out of what we were taught growing up as we had so many times before. No. Instead, we are taking our time and asking ourselves and each other, “Hey, are you ok with this?” and “What is it that you need?” or, “What is it that I need?”
We are not perfect by any means, but I know the Father is proud of the work He has done in each of us. All those years of patiently shaping and molding us to get to this point have finally paid off.
After bumping my head so many times in my dating life I also am finding the immense value of boundaries in dating. This has been a 5-year endeavor in the making. Many of you know my story that I did not date for a long time. There are a few reasons for that which I’ll save for a different post but know that it’s been a rocky road of breakups, waiting, abstinence, dating, breakups, and waiting. But now I get to see the effects of boundaries and how they ultimately bring forth the original intention of the Father for the relationship.
I’ve been told a million times, “Boundaries are for our protection” but it always felt like they were for a withholding of my desire. The very desire God had given me. Where was the protection in that?
Again, there’s too much to say here on this topic and maybe one day I’ll be bold enough to share in an actual series or (clears throat) an actual book. I surely could write one. But for now, I’ll just stick to paying homage to the work that has been done in us. The healthier versions of us who practice self-awareness, take accountability for wrongdoing, aim to serve others over ourselves, and diligently practice emotional intelligence, communication, and conflict resolution.
Yes, it’s not been an easy experience of choosing one another, but it has surely been a beautiful one. And always one that is worth it.
In other news, did you know that I just dropped the pre-sale for my debut novel When Love Wins? You can check out more here! This time around there is an audiobook in addition to the eBook and paperback versions. Make sure you are subscribed to my email list to catch special offers, discounts, insider information, and more!
Are you on Instagram/Facebook? If so, please reach out. I have a series called “Word of the Day Wednesdays” where I share 5-10 minutes worth of nuggets that are on my heart, which I hope are encouraging to others on IGTV/FB Live! I have these also posted on my Youtube Channel.
And, lastly, if you have read “Stories for the (Urban) Soul, please put up an Amazon review here. I was SUPER encouraged and blessed when a new reader put up her review for my 2nd book which you can view here :).
As always, thank you for your support!