I dedicate these ramblings to my Jersey girls, Kimmy and Mary Kay. I enjoyed the Chinese food, wine, and friendship tonight. You are better than “Sex in the City” any day. What would I do without you? Thank you for listening to me, and I hope you know I’m there for you anytime.
“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.” (KARL A. MENNINGER American physician, 20th century)
Isn't this the truth? What a beautiful and accurate portrayal of the gift of friendship. It reflects on many things that have been happening in my life this past year or so. I've made new friendships, re-kindled old ones, and watched a few drift away. I've thought a lot about friendship.
Are there any hard and fast rules? If you don't talk to a friend in a defined amount of time, does that mean the friendship is over? If you don't confide everything right away to a friend, or they don't confide in you, does it mean the friendship isn't true? I don't think so.
However, some friendships grow and others become dormant; they don’t necessarily go away – the feelings are still there - but it’s more of a sentimental friendship, like a souvenir of a past closeness.
I hope I'm the kind of friend that listens, that helps others ‘create, unfold and expand’, as they have helped me. But the problem with friendship is, it’s not always a two-way thing or an even give-and-take. Rarely are friendships perfectly balanced between two people. The need shifts back and forth, like a see-saw. Allowing your friends to listen to you is as important as listening to them.
What happens if you stop being listened to? The challenge is not to let it deflate you or fold you back up into yourself, but to hold on to the gifts that linger, even if the friendship itself fades away.
I noticed that Menninger says "friends" not "friend" in his quote. I don't think it's fair to expect one friend to meet all the needs of another. Just as there are many sides to each of us, we might connect to different friends in different ways.
The picture above is of my Lago girls on our annual retreat (recharging, renewal, reawakening) to Port Aransas (left to right. Jackie, Kim, Cheryl, Mary Kay, my sister Brenda, an honorary Lago girl, me, Conni, and Nancy. Karen couldn't come this past year.) When I moved to Lago Vista thirteen years ago, it was scary. I had lived within twenty miles of my childhood home and friends all of my life. But within a few short months, it was home because of these and other wonderful friends who took me into their hearts.
But I'm also blessed to still have my friends from elementary, junior high, and high school (some of them in the photos below.) Even though we graduated thirty years ago, we've clung to and even strengthened our connections with each other, by sharing and listening, laughing and praying, mostly through emails but also with periodic get-togethers. They've helped me rediscover sides of myself that I had neglected or even forgotten about. I hope my friendship has meant as much to them.