Monday, April 9, 2012

In Search Of The Missing

Today has been one of those days for me.  Do you know what I mean? Graham Cooke says when we are in Christ, we no longer have good days or bad days, we only have grace days.  Some days, God gives us grace to enjoy the day. Other days, God gives us grace to endure the day.  Today was definitely an enduring day for me.

If I was completely honest, I'd admit that it has been a bit of an enduring season for me, in one aspect or another. One of the benefits of such a season has been a deepening of my friendship with Holy Spirit. In moving to Georgia, 17 months ago, life and friendships as we knew them in the past shifted. While I enjoy a wonderful friendship with my husband, he is my absolute best friend. I am admittedly woman. I like the sound of a girlfriend's voice, her laughter, the way she sees things that's altogether different from a man's perspective. I've missed the shared camaraderie of the deep friendship one shares with a girlfriend. At holiday times, the magnitude of this loss seems to be even greater than it honestly genuinely is. But the pain of missed shared memories and happy times is certainly immense.

I love to sit and ask questions. Today, as I was reflecting on authentic connections and intimate friendships, a Danny Silk teaching, "are you your own happy manager or do you need someone to manage your happy," came to mind.  I had to ask myself, "Why am I sad that no one invites us over for dinner? Why does it make me sad that no one calls to invite me on excursions to the mall or to grab a glass of wine?"  To which Holy Spirit responded, "Is it really true that no one invites you over?" No, it's not true. We've received invitations to dinner since we've been in Georgia. Even Doug, reminded me of one such invitation this morning. Why is it so easy to get swept away in what's not happening? Why do we naturally gravitate toward negative emotions? Why is it so easy to attach ourselves to discontentment?

So I asked Holy Spirit, "How do I partner with you to find joy in solemn times?"  His answer, "Cry until you can't cry anymore. Find something to make you laugh and laugh until your side hurts. Rehearse my goodness. Tune into my love."

And suddenly I realized, it's all in the choosing. Joy is all around. Peace is all around. Love is all around. Contentment is all around. But so is all that other stuff: loneliness, depression, despondency, fear, anger, panic, rejection, betrayal, abandonment, and that list goes on and on.  Sometimes it can feel like a battle to choose well, but it's so worth it. Just a slight turn of the head gives a person a completely different perspective.

As long as I keep waiting for a friend to come along to "make me" happy, I'm going to be miserable. The truth is, no one makes you anything.  Happiness is a choice. I can keep waiting for a flowered path or I can choose to shift my focus and enjoy the flowers on the well worn path of life I'm currently traveling on. Our situation may not change, but when what we believe to be true about our situation changes, we have the ability to look at the same situation through lenses of hope, lenses of confident expectation where at first there was no hope.

In my adult life, I've moved several times. I'm no stranger to change. It's like two sides of the same coin: I hate to move. I love adventure! I miss my friends, my routine, all things familiar. I love discovering new places, meeting new people! Looking back at each move, I realize it took about 2 years to develop that genuine, ride or die kind of friendship with another woman. There's a level of risk to fully opening your heart and sharing you with someone else. I understand the levels of authenticity that one must progress through in order to reach this stage of friendship.  So what's really going on?

Outside my husband and my family, I want to be important enough to someone to be willing to take the risk. I want to surround myself with people who are important enough to me to risk knowing them, really knowing them. My picture of authentic, intimate friendship is much deeper than surface, know by name friendship.

The truth is people need the core needs of their heart met.  They need to be loved unconditionally. They need to be accepted.  They need to be significant. A person has to have a sense of value, of dignity. A person needs to know that who they are matters and that they can and will make a difference. When asked the question, If I moved away tomorrow, would my absence be felt?  They need to know, the answer is yes. 

First and foremost, this needs to happen in an encounter with Father God.  We must have a vibrant, love-filled, intimate connection with the Perfect One before we can ever connect with imperfect people. Am I looking to gain from people what only God can give me? If my answer is yes, I must first return to His lap and allow Him to love me.  But knowing that it was never God's heart for man to be alone, if the answer is no, I receive His grace to endure the waiting with joy filled expectation that friends are all around, while partnering with Him to build deep, heartfelt connections with the people He's placed on my present path.

Just a slight turn of the head, from 'oh woe is me' to 'wow! what an opportunity'. Does the loneliness go away? No, I'm still very much in search of a friend to share my life with.  My situation hasn't changed.  But I'm no longer looking at my situation with hopelessness. I can choose to be overwhelmed by the absence of deep, heart to heart friendships or I can choose to be overwhelmed by the opportunities to build those friendships. Life always has a way of bringing us back to this choice.  What are you choosing to be overwhelmed by?

Today when my present alternative is sadness, I choose joy.  Today, when my present alternative is loneliness, I choose His presence.  Today, when my present alternative is despondency, I choose hope.  Today, when I could be disenchanted, I choose to be encouraged. I will not partner with fear. I will not befriend the 'dis' family - discouragement, disenchantment, disillusionment, disappointment. I will not live with regret. I choose to fix my eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of my faith.  Today, I will marvel in His goodness.

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