Honestly, her books and Bible studies are some of my very favorites. She has a way about her that so speaks to my heart. I had the opportunity to hear her speak in person once and it was just amazing. I don't know what it is about her, but she always just strikes me as remarkably genuine and down to earth. Straight talking, but completely graceful. And I can't think of a single thing of hers that I've read or heard her say that I've thought, "Yeah, that doesn't sound right to me." Anyone who knows me knows that is insanely rare. There's probably something out there, but I haven't run across it yet!
Right now I'm participating in her Wising Up study. It's a study of wisdom, particularly as seen in Proverbs and in the session we started last night, she was talking about friendship. Pastor Tim just finished a sermon series about friendship, but this hit me a lot closer to home. From the minute Beth started talking about what a real friend is until we turned off the disk 45 minutes later, I was just leaking all over the place.
First, I am crazy lucky to have a couple of women who I consider close friends. They make me think. They challenge me and help me grow. They emotionally support me no matter how ridiculous I'm being. They allow me to be completely honest, even if that honesty isn't pretty. They've seen my soul laid bare and they still talk to me. I know that many never have that, and I have been blessed to have two women who fit the bill. And lest it sound too dismal, these women are still remarkably close to me. I can't imagine anything that could happen (especially at this point!) that could break the bonds of friendship that we share.
That said, one of the points Beth made last night is that friend indicates someone who is in close proximity to you. A neighbor. Someone you can call at whatever time and who can be right there. And while the internet, cheap long distance & cars have made the world much, much smaller, there is definitely something to be said for having a friend who is nearby who you can see regularly. There's nothing like having a friend you can call in the morning and meet for breakfast 20 minutes later, even if you haven't fixed your hair or face and have a coffee stain on the front of your shirt. I love when I get together with my bff's, but it's definitely an "event" and that's different than the spur of the moment visits. When I have a rough day, I can call them, or shoot them an email or text (well, when I get a cell again I can!), but it's just not the same as kicking back with a coke and a crappy movie and laughing or crying together.
One thing that we didn't talk about last night (maybe it will show up in the second half) is that for me, a super close friend has to be a woman. That is not a slam against guys. Again, I'm super lucky to know some great guys and to have some that I would consider to be friends and even close friends. My husband was one of my dearest friends before we became romantically involved. But ultimately for me, no man will ever be able to understand my heart the way another woman can. There are unspoken things that a woman can hear that a man, no matter how close, simply can't read. I love my husband madly and deeply and can talk with him for hours about just about anything, but even he is no substitute for a female friend.
Because so much has been pointing in the direction of friendship, I'm trying to reach out to a few women "on the fringes" in my life. Clearly my reaction to last night's study indicates that my heart is aching for a friend. I don't want to seem desperate, but the fact is, I need a friend. So it's time to step out of my comfort zone where I wait for someone to find me and become my friend and look to be a friend first. It will be fun (if a little frightening!) to see what happens next!