Bittersweet: Thoughts on Change, Grace and Learning the Hard Way

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Sometimes people exhaust me. I mostly chalk this up to being an introvert, a condition under which extended contact with others drains whatever resources I may possess and I immediately need to retreat to a quiet room to stare out a window or at a wall. Also, some people are just plain exhausting (you’re thinking of a few right now, aren’t you?).

Of course, I am not a hermit, nor does that life sound particularly appealing…except for the times that it does. So I’ve never been one to have gobs of friends. I don’t surround myself with crowds or seek out parties or gatherings as a rule. Unless there will be really good food, in which case it would be just plain rude not to go. Obviously.

But in this season of my life I’ve noticed that I have been craving really good girlfriends. Like the kind who totally get me, my humor, and my life, and with whom I’m not grabbing from the corners of my brain random tidbits to share to keep the conversation going: “So… did you hear about that toddler in Asia who smokes a pack of cigarettes a day? What’s up with that?”

The ones who will check in with me, pray for me, generally make time for me, and for whom I will do the same. The ones who show up when it really matters, no questions asked.

But life gets in the way, which I totally get. Our kids do a crazy dance on our last nerve and it’s all we can do not to lose our minds and go screaming into the street, leaving a trail of crumbs and despair. This is not the time when we think, “Hey! I wonder how Montana is doing?” and call her up to have a meaningful conversation about being intentionally present in our lives.

What I have discovered, however, is that by getting swept away by these daily distractions and to-do lists, I neglected to create relationships that would help refill my soul’s tank, that well from which I draw for that extra measure of patience and fresh ideas for what to make for dinner that my daughter will actually eat.

Shauna Niequist talks about the importance of friends in her book Bittersweet: “Share your life with the people you love, even it if means saving up for a ticket and going without a few things for a while to make it work. There are enough long lovely days of the same old thing, and if you let enough years pass, and if you let the routine steamroll your life, you’ll wake up one day, isolated and weary, and wonder what happened to all those old friends… We are made to live connected and close…holding one another’s babies, taking turns stirring whatever’s on the stove.”

This sounds really nice to me. So I’m putting myself out there. Spending time with the moms of my daughter’s friends, sending texts to the friends I don’t see very often – just because. I also stalk certain women on Instagram who seem like kindred spirits. This may or may not be your preferred method of making friends, but whatever; it’s worked a couple times for me so I’m sticking with it.

And this is why: “Great friendship does a lot of things in our lives, but one of the best things it does is tell us the truth about ourselves when we need it most” (Niequist, Bittersweet).

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A born wordsmith (that’s someone who likes words a lot and uses them well), I bring 15 years’ experience in professional publishing to the table – writing and editing are where I really shine. And now a word about books. Simply, I love a good book. When I come upon a really great sentence in a book, I like to linger there. Really soak it in, wiggle around in it and think about how the author crafted that amazing line. Super geeky, I know. But that’s exactly why I make a great editor. I appreciate words. I appreciate the art of stringing words that alone are nothing special, but when married together become a thing of beauty.

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