I am an insecure person who compares her own accomplishments, children, and house to others. I'm a shy introvert who usually waits for others to approach me to initiate conversation, plans, friendship. So Jill's chapter entitled "No More Perfect Friends" had much to teach me.
Every mom needs a community of mothers around her. I know this. In my last home, while nursing my second baby, I struggled with the temptation to kill myself. I was suffering post-partum depression, something people with bipolar disorder are prone to, but I was unaware of both conditions. It would be another few years before a diagnosis and medication would bring some blessed relief. Adding to the suicidal notions was lack of sleep (as all mothers of newborns can attest) and ISOLATION. I had no friends. My husband had to go to work daily. My parents lived in another state. "No one" understood me. A mothering community would have helped so much.
Where I now live, I joined a Mom's Group as it was forming. What a blessing it has been! These ladies have saved my life, figuratively AND literally. I made incredible friends. When I had surgery, they brought meals for my family. When I was going through a depression around Easter one year, they got together and brought baskets for my kids with great papers in some of the eggs..."Mommy loves you"..."Let's snuggle"..."Let's Play a Game".... It "forced" me to spend time with the reasons I was struggling against ending it all. They also brought visitors for me - not caring I was in my bathrobe with stringy hair. They have brought extra Christmas gifts for my kids in lean years. Through the grace of God I've been able to reciprocate some gifts.
I am a "here I am" person, waiting for people to come to me. Since reading this chapter I'm trying to be a "there you are!" person. Friendships need to be nurtured to be sustainable with an investment of time and energy. But friends are human. If you expect imperfection, you won't be disappointed when it shows up; you'll be a more grace-filled, loving friend. My insecurity says I'm not worth someone's time and energy, but confidence (who I am in God) says I am valuable and have something to offer to a friendship. I am not perfect, but I am in the process of being perfected. Same with my friends.
One of my friends was brought to tears recently when things didn't go so well at the IEP meeting at her son's school. She came to me. What a gift! But at first I didn't treat it as a gift - I treated it as though she came to me for advice. Another friend and I sort of ganged up on her, telling her what she should do. Fortunately, I came to my senses, apologized, hugged her, asked if I could email her later. Yes. In the email, I apologized again and encouraged her where she was, reminding her she already knew what was best for her family, and assuring her of my prayers. She was very gracious in forgiving me and the encouragement was just what she needed. I have much to learn to be a good friend.
Grace happens when we allow another person to be human. Encourage one another even as we make different choices in our personal lives. Now excuse me, I need to decide which friend to get in touch with today....