On January 1st we have a tendency to reflect upon the previous year and think about what we can do differently to make the new year better. I used to be one of those people who made New Year's resolutions. I had a 0% success rate of keeping my resolutions, so 3 years ago, I decided to take the One Word Challenge.
For me, focusing on a single word has been much more effective than making resolutions. In the past, I have focused on words such as, Obey, Share, and Look.
Over the past 2 years, blogging has become a part of my life. As a blogger, you put your words out there, not knowing who will read them. This part is a little scary. And most of the time, you have no idea how your words impact someone, but you continue to write. You trust that the words you have been given are meant to be shared with others for a reason. This is the life of a blogger.
Once in awhile, someone might share with you how your words have helped or encouraged them. These moments are gifts….little reminders that your words are making a difference. It’s because of these moments that I continue to write.
*** This blog originally appeared on the Motherless Daughters Ministry website.
There are certain moments in time that change our lives forever. For me, one of those moments was when I learned my mom had passed away.
It was eight years ago, but I still remember it like it was yesterday. I remember waking up at 12:40 a.m. to my phone ringing and talking to one of my sisters. I listened as she told me about our mom’s final moments. I remember hanging up the phone and laying in bed for hours…going between moments of shock (did I just imagine that phone call?), moments of anger (why didn’t God allow me to be there?), and moments of feeling completely devastated.
My mom had battled breast cancer for 9 years, and while deep down I knew her time on earth was coming to an end, in that moment I learned that the thought of losing someone is very different than actually losing someone.
At the age of 26, I became a motherless daughter.
Motherless daughters share a special bond. Recently, I was reading the book, Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, by Lisa-Jo Baker, and within the first few pages she shared that she became a motherless daughter at the age of 18.
While her book focuses on how to create and keep lasting friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker also shares how her friends supported her after her mother’s death. I saw myself in part of her story.
Lisa-Jo’s first phone call after her mom passed away was to a friend. My first phone call was also to a friend.
A few weeks before my mom passed away, one of my closest friends told me to call her whenever I got “the call.” She didn’t want me to drive myself back home alone. She said she would drive. She wanted to go with me.
My friend followed through on her offer. After I called her, she dropped everything for me. She left work, packed her bags, and before I knew it, she was at my apartment, with food in hand, and her adorable dog. We had a quick lunch, and then she drove me to my hometown, which was 4.5 hours away, so that I could be with my family.
It was the longest car ride of my life, and even though my heart was broken, I felt incredibly loved by my friend (and her adorable dog who sat on my lap the whole time).
In Never Unfriended, Lisa-Jo Baker says, “Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up.”
Losing my mom helped me understand the truth in this statement.
I felt loved when my friend showed up to drive me home. I felt loved when my former teaching mentor (who I hadn’t seen in years), showed up at my mom’s visitation. She drove an hour just to give me a hug. I felt loved when 7 of my friends/co-workers showed up at my mom’s funeral. Most of them had never met my mom, yet they drove 4.5 hours to comfort me.
In the midst of my grief, God revealed His love for me through my friends.
I learned that friends make sacrifices.
Friends put others’ needs in front of their own.
Friends are willing to share your grief so you don’t have to walk through the darkness alone.
The hardest phone call of my life allowed me to experience the beautiful gift of friendship.
I’m so thankful my friends showed up for me. Who will you show up for today?
About thirteen years ago, I moved to the Cincinnati area to begin my teaching career. I didn’t know a single person in Cincinnati, yet I felt called to move here….4.5 hours away from my family and friends. Pursuing your dreams sometimes will require you to do things you never expected.
For the first time, I was living on my own, in an unfamiliar place, and I didn’t know anyone. It was scary, but it was also exciting. I had a chance to make a fresh start. Being the new girl isn’t easy, though, especially when you’re an introvert like me. The more I took initiative, stepped outside my comfort zone and introduced myself to someone new, the easier it became. Before long, I quickly made many new friends.
But I soon realized that making friends is different than being a friend.
Social media wants us to believe that friendship is just a click away. With one click, we can become friends (which feels great), but just as easily, we can unfriend someone (which feels not so great).
We are led to believe that our worth is linked to the number of friends/followers/likes we have.
We have hundreds or thousands of online friends and multiple social media accounts, yet struggle with loneliness. Why is this?
In her new book, Never Unfriended: The Secret to Finding and Keeping Lasting Friendships, Lisa-Jo Baker reminds us,
“You are necessary. You are not invisible. You are named and seen, and please don’t erase your relevance because you think you’re not relevant to the people you pass by on a screen.” (p.32-33)
The truth is, we were created for deep relationships. Our online interactions must be balanced with real-life connections.
You might quickly make a friend, but being a friend is intentional. It takes time. And it involves risk….especially if you’ve been hurt by a friend before (In her book, Lisa-Jo Baker shares about overcoming Friendship PTSD).
Never Unfriended is a guide about how to create lasting friendships:
“So, what can you do to find safe, loving, engaged friends whom you can trust never to unfriend you? Become radically invested in the people around you. Take the initiative and become that kind of friend first.” (p.82-83)
I love this advice, and have found it to be true in my own life.
Lisa-Jo Baker shares that a lasting friend: encourages, forgives, assumes the best, celebrates, helps carry sadness, is trustworthy, and is willing to let others see his/her real self (including the messy moments). Most importantly, a lasting friend shows up….in the good times and the tough times.
She also talks about the importance of maintaining healthy boundaries and reminds us that no human will fill the craving our soul has for connection…only God can do that.
If you’re looking for practical ways to develop deeper friendships, I would encourage you to read Never Unfriended.
Friendship is a valuable gift. Be a friend to someone today.
*This is a two part series. To read The Single Life – Part I, click here.
Like most young girls, I dreamed of growing up, getting married, and having kids.
Being single in my 30’s, one of the biggest lies I find myself dealing with is the thought that I’m “behind” in my life. Most of my friends are married, with several kids, and their kids are now in school, yet my life looks nothing like that. Sometimes it feels as if the world is spinning around, but I’m “stuck.”
The truth is I’m not “stuck.” It only appears that way because I’m comparing my life to others. Our stories are uniquely beautiful - no two are meant to be the same.
God’s creativity can be seen by looking at the stories around us, but sometimes I think we’re so consumed with comparison that we miss out on the beauty and joy right in front of us.
Have I questioned God about why I’m still single? Yes.
Do I still trust that God is good and His timing is perfect? Absolutely!
Have I prayed for my future husband? Yes, but my prayer has changed in the last several months. Recently, I’ve been praying….
“God, you know my desire is to be married and have kids. If that is not your desire for me, change my desires to match your desires.”
The first time I prayed that, it was honestly a little scary. At first it felt like I was giving up on my dreams, but the more I prayed it, the more God changed my perspective. I’m not giving up on my dreams, I’m giving my dreams to God. There’s a difference.
Has God changed my desires? No…not yet, at least. He may at some point, but I never want my desire for a husband to be greater than my desire for following God.
Being single in my 30’s has forced me to become independent, but at the same time it has helped me become more reliant on God. He is the one I turn to throughout the day. He is the one in whom I find my identity. He is the one who loves me unconditionally.
My joy, worth, and sense of purpose do not come from a person, they come from my Heavenly Father. And I know that if God wants me to be married, He will bring me someone who also knows this to be true.
Whether you’re single, married, divorced, or widowed, know this: Our relationship statuses may change, but we will always be valuable in God’s eyes.
I'm an ordinary introvert who loves an extraordinary God.