Two Values Where Love Blossoms

I have always been astounded by the power friends have to bring hurt.  Friends are people you trust to have access to your feelings, your thoughts, your information, on good faith and with love.  They are people you share yourself with, that you let yourself be known to, vulnerable to, and they have an amazing power in their hands.  And failing their consciousness around their own power, with some careless handling, this power can truly destroy.

Friendship has been a very strong theme on this blog.  There have been many hurts, many vents, many priceless moments, and many lessons learned over the course of the past (almost) year.  I have described the dangers of weak girls as friends, the impossibility of friendship with the man whore, the power of girlfriends, the need to be touched and comforted that is experienced by single women,  the honoured place of the platonic husband, the desire for someone to be nice to in every one of us.  This blog has been dedicated to everything BUT romance, but even in this dedication the need for togetherness is recognized as absolutely vital.

In recent days I had a challenging experience with more than one friend.  I use the term friend still because I am not sure yet what to do about any of it.  Forgiveness is in order… I acknowledge it makes no sense to hold on to hurt.  But is reconciliation?  Does it make any sense to hold on to people who hurt?  I realize that in each case my friend and I see friendship from very different vantage points.  I realize that we have two different sets of values.  And I realize that values in friendship are important.

In chewing on my environment I have learned a few things about friendship.  Two main values in particular jump out that are absolutely key.

1. The Values of the Friend

What is a friend?  In thinking this through and determining whether my friend is truly a friend I have come to understand that what is inside a person is what the person is.  I know this sounds simple.  And I know it sounds airy fairy as well.  But hear me out.  What is inside the person is what the person is.  A person’s actions, words, language, mannerisms all come out of their character.  Their character comes from the actions that they have practiced into habit and second nature.  The actions they have practiced into second nature and habit have come from decisions they have made to do this instead of that, go here instead of there, say this at this time and not say that at the next moment.  These decisions have been made from their values.  In what the person decides to be the thing they should do, “SHOULD” itself is defined by their values.

A person’s character is a dynamic thing yes.  But it is complete.  In this moment they are exactly what they are.  No more no less.  Their past is not here anymore.  Their potential hasn’t yet come into being.  Only what they are today is present with you.  What they value today is all that is.  Sure, they may have the necessary raw material to grow in a certain direction… but will they choose to?  Yes, they may have all the potential in the world… but what is potential other than a belief of what could be?  It certainly is not what is.  Sure, I accept that they could grow.  But they have not yet grown, not at this moment, anywhere beyond where they are.  And waiting for a person to grow and come around to a place of being where you feel you can have a relationship with them that is mutually fulfilling can turn into throwing years of time away, gambling with your most precious possession of life itself, and casting your pearls before swine.

Love Blossoms

2.  Alignment of Values is the definition of trust

Another thing I learned came out of a conversation with one of my brothers.  He said something that has resounded within me for hours, bouncing and echoing through the hallways and channels of my brain and my veins.  It came from something he had read recently on Trust.  The author of whatever it was put it to their readers that trust is what is present when values are the same.

Think about it before I go any further.  Chew on the phrase a little while.  Trust is what is present when values are the same. 

It isn’t some special ingredient or result at the end of a formula.  It isn’t something manufactured, packaged in plastic, and sold from the shelves to supermarket shoppers.  It doesn’t come from listening to self-help gurus and conjuring spells from witch doctors.  It isn’t the immediate result of an “I Do” or an “I swear”.  It only shows up where values are shared.

Let’s go back to number 1.  If it is true that “What is inside the person is what the person is.” And if  “A person’s actions, words, language, mannerisms all come out of their character,”  which is at the very foundation “determined by their values.”  Then the alignment of values, the sameness of foundation, is where trust exists.

Taking an example, there are two people who meet for the first time.  They are put in the same place to work on the same project together as a team.  The people are very different – one is tall the other short, one is a man the other a woman, one is from Africa the other from Asia.  But let us say that both have at the core of their being a value system based on honesty, directness, diligence and pride in their work.  How likely is it that they will be honest with eachother, appreciating the honesty in the other?  How likely is it that they will not be offended by eachother’s directness?  How likely is it that they will trust eachother more and more as they learn that they both take pride in their work and are dedicated to working diligently for it to happen?  At the end of this project how do you see their trust relationship looking?

Take another pair.  They are both men, both American, same height, same home town, speak the same language, and they shop at the same store.  But say one has a value system based on honesty, directness, diligence and pride in his work.  And the other has a value system based on creative diplomacy, expedience, politeness, and pride in his paycheck.  How likely is it that directness will butt heads with politeness?  How about expedience and diligence?  Honesty and creative diplomacy?  How well will pride in ones work fit in with pride in ones paycheck?  Can you see how this might be a recipe for disaster?

Out of the values of a person springs the seed of who they are and what they do.  Out of shared values sprouts trust.  Out of trust grows friendship.  And out of friendship blossoms love.

BITTERNESS BURNING

This week I was given the opportunity to share with someone as she slayed her bitterness.  We had a Bitterness Burning. 

My girlfriend had a wake-up call in her life to the fact that she was harboring hurt and “drinking the poison expecting the other person to die”.  Truth is, many of us have been bitter.  I raise my hand – I know what bitter tastes like.  It’s been a while but I am not immune.  Many of us are still in the White Witch’s bitterly frozen Narnia with no idea how to get out.  But Bitterness is not a closed-border state!  There is a way out!

THE BITTERNESS BURNING

Write every emotion down.  Write like a victim.  Write like an accuser.  Write like an executioner.  Write every hurt and harm, every angry thought.  Let there be nothing left in you to wring out.  This took me several days and several sheets of paper to vomit out all my anger, hurt and bitterness into black ink on white paper. 

Let the amount you have written in itself be a wake-up call for you.  I remember thinking Oh My Goodness, where did all these words come from?  I could just visualize the space that they left behind inside me waiting to be filled with something different.  What a huge amount of space these words must have filled inside!

Then burn it.

Now my girlfriend and I are quite creative people.  We see the world in colour and, although I hate to use the word, drama.  Her bitterness took on the largeness of her personality and it took some ceremony to get the deed done.  She invited a few of us girlfriends over to dinner, and after the lovely meal we prayed for her future of bitter-free living in a circle of friends outside on the grass on her lawn.  Then we made that baby burn.  As the paper curled and blackened we lit hand sparklers and twirled like fairies, using them in turn to light roman candles and even bigger fireworks.  The loud booms and bright colours lit up the sky!  A real celebration!  It was beautiful.  No one got hurt (and yes, we are all amazed – these women and gunpowder and no accidents). I’m sure the neighbours thought we’d lost our minds in the middle of a normal week in February with dew on the grass and us out there with fireworks!  But one thing was missing.

BITTERNESS.

He didn’t even show up.  She had a bitter-free night.

Of course this is just the beginning.  If you wake up the next day and do exactly what you’d done the day before nothing will change.  Bitterness, like every other bad habit, takes practice to remove.  It will slide right back in if you let it.  Habits are easy to form and hard to let go BUT we didn’t burn bitterness for nothing.  Oh no! 

It was a celebration of a new commitment, a new future and making space inside her soul for something different to happen.  My friend stepped out of her comfort zone and began to take responsibility for her future.  She enlisted the help of women she trusted to hold her accountable and help her create that future.  Today I am sure my friend, as I did, woke up with a natural tendency to slip into bad habits.  But she has a lovely memory to help her in her commitment to fill the hole left behind by those words now released with something new – something beautiful.  The love of her God, the love of her family, and the support of her friends will envelop her in her new journey.  She will busy her hands with new projects – baking is one of her many talents and she enjoys it so much.  With her God, her little family and her friends surrounding her with love, she is committing herself to a journey that will lead to a destination that bares absolutely no resemblance to Bitterness.

How sweet it is to be loved by you…

Ladies and Gentlemen,
 
Let me confess first of all that I am not a Techy.  My autocorrect tells me I can’t even spell it correctly insisting that it needs an ‘ie’ instead of a ‘y’.  Bahumbug.  My brother still loads my iPod.  My mom has more gadgets than I do ( iPad, iPods (plural), kindle, blackberry playbook, iPod docs and accessories).  In fact I think they switched our generations around.  She has more than one Facebook account for more than one capacity, several emails and understands apple and blackberry generations.  We’re all very proud of her.
 
Me not so much.  I like my paper books, my handwritten diary for work, a wall calendar and I will admit to missing the prominence of the CD.  I hate that people prefer to communicate my instant message rather than meet in person or talk on the phone (but admit its cheaper).  There are old friends I prefer not to have lunch with because they are always on their blackberry.
 
Despite all this, in the last six months I have maintained a blog.  And through this blog I have made some very real and very inspiring human relationships.
 
It is such a phenomenon to me. I have friends I have never lain eyes on that I have been through some pretty rough mileage with.  They have sent comments of encouragement in answer to my occasional rant, have heaped praise on me when I have enjoyed breakthroughs or simply written well, and they have shared their inspirations, their pet peeves and their breakdowns with me.  I count a few of them a real friends whose opinions I value and whose blogs I enjoy.
 
There are very real people on the East Coast and on the West Coast of the USA, in England, in South East Asia who share moments of my day with me, my struggles and their struggles, my joys and their joys.
 
We are FRIENDS.  Using a virtual reality to share our true realities.  A friend of mine shares frequently about a  peeve of his – abusive relationships.  He has applied his shoulder to the wheel of a great cause and helped me understand how to avoid sliding into one.  Another has just given birth.  She took us through every step of her pregnancy with hilarious detail and I honestly feel better prepared.  She’s younger than I am but well on her way to being a super mom.  If Kat can do it I’m sure I’ll be able to do it when the time comes.  She’ll be there for me.  Another expresses herself through black and white drawings.  She will be doing portraits of my family and of my pets for me in the coming year.  Another lady is a retiree who really enjoys words and sets us little writing projects that stretches our skills.  And I could go on and on…
 
Teresa of Ávila, a saint whose story has me fascinated, encourages her reader to seek good friends to pray together and strengthen each other, said of her own experience, “I had many friends to help me fall; but as to rising again, I was so much left to myself, that I wonder now that I was not always on the ground.”
 
As for me, I have not been so neglected.  Where one form of friendship causes pain another opens itself up as consolation.
 
Today I am thankful for how sweet it is to be loved by you.
 

Writing Found a Home

I was late and sat in the back.  My first writing class.  But I was hooked before I even sat down!  Twenty men and women of various ages and backgrounds were in the room where the collection of Art and Manga books call home in our local Books & Books.  They were rapt, listening to the instructor, eloquent as a feather, laying the framework for our six weeks together.

Tingles danced over my arms as I reached into my bag for my diary.  I was engaged, caught up in her reverence and passion for a thing she clearly loves.  She talked on writerly habits, having a writer’s journal, writing daily for at least fifteen minutes, reading like a writer.  She expressed in words several of the things I have learned since sitting down and committing to this blog.  Like the extraordinary gems of material hidden in the ordinariness of our own lives.  Like the way a writer thinks, examining the event of the day or the moving moment and creating words to recreate this picture to someone else.

We were given a class exercise – to write a paragraph each on three childhood memories – and the silence was broken only by the odd chuckle and the dizzy rush of pens.  I smiled down at my book feeling like a little girl again on the first day I realized that I could read.  I had cracked the code!  Found a new world to explore.  Once again I am in that moment.

This class will change my life.

And I won’t be alone.  The excitement in the room was like the 22nd person – hard and defined by bones covered in flesh.  The questions asked and experiences shared came as though from one massive tank of thought.  I learned something that will stay with me forever.  There is a community of writers.  Everywhere.  Watching, observing and loving the moment enough to write it.  Even here in my home town.  People like me who shut down a part of their day to spend with a pen and paper or notepad or laptop to pour themselves out for a moment.  There are people who take the colours of life and recreate them more brilliantly in black and white.  Others are fluent in my language.

This morning I have my blog to commit to and my homework to do.  I am praying for the time to do it all – both mean a lot to me.  And so I am giving fair warning – much of the frilly bits of my life will be cut for a time to make space for this thing that promises to take over, to bring a new chapter of meaning and a whole new purpose.

Onward with the Journey!

Why Weak Girls Make Poor Friends: 10 reasons

  1. They try to sleep with your ex boyfriend.  Your boyfriend.  Your cousin.  Your brother.
  2. They cannot make a single decision by themselves.  They will call six girlfriends and the man they are sleeping with to find out what to wear.  They will call ten girlfriends to find out whether to date such and such a guy.  They will call 15 girlfriends to determine what the “He” of the moment meant when he said “xyz”.  And then they go ahead and do the opposite of what they have been advised by the panel.
  3. They enjoy being the victim.  In order to maintain victim status they get into bad situations that they know are bad situations (because all 15 friends in point 2 above have TOLD them they are bad situations) and then cry about it later.  Bring on the violin.
  4. They bore you to tears for ten years about the mistake they made in point 3, usually dating someone who they knew was going to treat them badly and then proceeded to treat them badly (surprise surprise – string quartet).   All at the same time as sneaking behind your back and sleeping with your ex boyfriend.  Your boyfriend.  Your cousin.  Or your brother.
  5. They get jealous of the friendships you have with other people.  Other women.  Particularly good-looking ones.  Men.  Particularly (but not limited to) good-looking ones.
  6. They insult you in front of others to make themselves look stronger/better/prettier.
  7. They gossip.  Usually in the form of “can I trust you with this?” or “can you keep a secret?”
  8. They are always in competition with someone.  Mostly you.  To the point of embarrassment.
  9. They comfort you when you have been hurt by your ex boyfriend or boyfriend (or cousin or brother), let you vent, agree on what an asshole he is and then go home and call him up to “comfort” him too.
  10. When confronted with their weakness the only response they’ve got is tears.

Cry me a river.