Will quickly pick up where we left off. So let’s get into it, shall we?
If you’d like to double back and catch up, here’s PART 1.
Where to start when you realize you have friendship PTSD
“I did a very simple exercise advised by my friend. I wrote myself two letters. First little Lisa-Jo wrote a letter to big Lisa-Jo telling her about all that hurt. All the places the bomb had wounded her. All the ways she’d felt lonely and scared and misunderstood. I wrote it with my left hand. My baby hand. The hand that doesn’t know how to hold a pencil properly. And so when I read it I could hear my younger self clearly through the purple marker and scrapbook paper.
And then I replied. I wrote myself back. My grown-up self wrote back using her right hand and her mature voice to reach in and answer the painful questions I’d been living in patterns of repeat for decades, without ever before pausing to see if they were healthy.
So I pushed pause on that Friday afternoon and wrote back to myself explaining all the ways the various relationship bombs that had detonated throughout my childhood weren’t my fault.
And we both cried—both parts of myself—and none of it was wasted because I knew the Holy Spirit was there writing the words and answering the questions with me and through me. Because He is a God who keeps track of all our sorrows. A God who collects all our hot tears in His bottle; who records each one in His book (Ps. 56:8). None of it was a surprise to Him. It was an act of freedom. Because “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free” (Gal. 5:1 niv).”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
The moment I read this, I immediately wondered why I had never thought of doing this. I ended up at the healing part in the end, of course. Remember God signed me up for therapy soon after my primary school experience.
But I love that this exercise is drowned in freedom and redemption.
Mine came with years and years of weeping, naming my pain and tracing where it hurts the most. It came with taking back those sour words “You’re dead to me” that I whispered under my breath on my tear stained pillow.
It came with opening up my heart like a Disney character every morning secretly hoping that this would be the day I would make a genuine friend as the warm sun rays made their way into my heart.
It came with acknowledging that I’m not too broken to make good friends or be a good friend myself because this stuff can rock you and make you doubt.
It came with forgiving them because they didn’t know any better. They probably feared that I’d cry if they asked about it. They probably feared that I’d say I can’t forgive them to their face for not doing anything that day. They probably feared that my pain was too heavy for them to carry. They probably had a reason I was blind to see with my tear stained eyes.
So to the girls I called schoolmates in class 7 and 8, I say I forgive you. I forgave you a long time ago. I was never sure we could be friends again but stranger things can happen. But I release you from the weight my broken heart could not understand you carrying.
I forgive you.
Forgiveness is ground zero
“Friends are hard work. Heck, people are hard work. There’s no getting around it. The only way through is through. Through the knowing and the showing up and the forgiving and the laughing and the folding laundry together and the walking kids to school and the daring to do the ugly cry in front of each other.
Because there are no perfect people, inevitably someone will hurt us and we will hurt someone. What matters is what comes next. Will we forgive them, or will we withdraw? Will we work it out, or will we write it off? We are each broken and each wounded. But only by choosing to stay, can we start to grow deep roots. And forgiveness is always ground zero when it comes to any relationship, especially friendship. Without forgiveness, friendship becomes extinct and relationship nonexistent.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
We all have friendship baggage. We have both initiated and been on the receiving end of some of the experiences.
You’ve probably found yourself either too proud to forgive someone who wronged you, or even prouder to accept it.
Like I said earlier, making new relationships hasn’t been easy. I’ve been hurt and forgiven just as they’ve hurt me and I’ve forgiven them. It’s the symbiosis of sustainable relationships. Forgive and forge ahead together.
It’ll take all of you, but it will be worth it.
The kind of friend we need to be
“In Luke 10, when the scholar pressed Jesus to define who exactly this neighbor is that we’re commanded to love, Jesus didn’t give an inch. He gave a story. And it defines neighbor not as a particular who, but instead as a what, as in what you should do. The parable of the good Samaritan isn’t about identifying your neighbor; it’s about being a neighbor. In essence, it’s about being the kind of friend you wish you had.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
Did this blow your mind like it did mine? I had never seen it like that?
Also, why is it that we were taught that a good Samaritan is someone who does good deeds and charitable acts?
It was always about who we need to be. The kind of neighbour or friend we need to be.
As someone who’s been the guy beaten up and left for dead (as shared in part 1) I know how I’d have been if someone was a friend to me in my hour of need. Would have saved me a world of pain, that’s for sure.
But the bigger take out for me, is the need to be that person for another, for all.
I was telling Dave that I think the good Samaritan parable is a lot like the Inception movie. I don’t know why it feels like a dream within a dream. I think the good Samaritan was ALSO the man that was robbed, beaten black and blue and left for dead.
Hear me out.
I can’t seem to shake that realization off. I keep seeing him as both the man left for dead and the man who helps him. Like the him needing a good Samaritan while on the ground part played out in his head first before he could be the good Samaritan later to another guy in a situation much like his.
Might be my story telling senses running mad but I think I’m on to something.
I hope that left you shook like it did me.
And that’s a perfect transition to paint the picture of how it looks like to be a good neighbour or friend.
Friendship is experiencing God together through shared sadness and celebration
“I’m fine or I’m busy are the biggest hindrances for women friends truly connecting.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
Hands up if you nodded vigorously at that statement. Right? Feel like throwing in ‘I don’t know’ in there for good measure. We tend to say ‘I don’t know ‘ in our interactions and to ourselves when we’re afraid of facing out loud what’s clawing within. If there’s no honesty in our interactions, then we will fail to dig depths in our female relationships.
“Maybe the most intimate, radical thing we can do for our friends is to show up. To show up like Jesus did—in person, willing to experience life with the community around Him. Giving our friends the same gift Jesus did—the gift of our presence. To show up and do one of two things—“Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15). Cry the ugly cry or celebrate with whooping and hollering and confetti.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
Anyway, Whitney Houston and Cece Winan’s “Count on me” is the perfect picture of the kind of friend that we need to be and have. To be a good friend, be counted on.
Just gonna add it here to carry the message home. Also, God I love the 90s!
Be Willing to Carry Each Other’s Pain
“Jesus lived the whole arc of the human emotional spectrum—from weddings to funerals. He announced His public ministry at a wedding (John 2:1–11). Dancing, love, laughter, and passion. And in Jewish culture seven days of unmitigated joy, of food, of family, of telling stories, and of catching up on life and celebrating. But He also stood outside the tomb of a friend as close as a brother and wept His broken tears alongside friends and strangers, believers and doubters (John 11).
Wept with them for the brother who had died. Who had been dead days before He even arrived on the scene. Wept even while knowing He had the power to raise Lazarus. That He would raise Lazarus just moments later. Wept because friendship shares an emotional DNA, and His was tied up with Mary and Martha, and He entered fully into their grief. Their joy was His joy; their sorrow was His sorrow. He carried all of it. He opened His human heart and let it all pour in. He walked into their lives and didn’t hold back feeling the full range of all that they lived and loved and hoped and despaired.
When we’ve run out of words, when we’re beside ourselves with the pain that we’re watching our friends go through, we can follow His example and give them the gift of our presence, our tears, our sorrow. We can always give them that.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
This is where I fail. I know I have been a “drive-by” friend who leaves when it feels like it’s time especially when the I don’t know, I’m fine, I’m busy card has been thrown at me like a wall breaking any hopes of connection.
Perhaps it’s my Anais Nïn shared dislike for shallow living or friendships. It’s either we drown or I don’t make enough time. I’ve always been that intense. I share my life with friends and strangers alike and I look for depth in every encounter, even if it’s just a glimpse that’s enough to invest in.
And I’m realizing this may have cost me some relationships because not everyone is a deep sea diver. Some people take time to warm up to anyone. Like I said, everyone has friendship baggage. And I should be conscious of that more in my interactions.
I know I need to lay down my life and be open to daily inconveniences, especially to the shut down ones who don’t know how to reach out when they’re going through stuff. And to those who are genuinely tired through the mummy years.
Lisa expressed this better than I could put in words.
“Being willing to weep with your friends will take courage. It will take deliberate choices. It will sometimes take inviting yourself over even when it feels awkward and like an imposition, because if you keep putting it off, the window will close and you’ll have missed the chance to be a living, breathing, weeping form of life support. They need you. Especially when they don’t want you.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
Be willing to carry each other’s joy
“There are glorious days where joy comes naturally to us. But there are others when it feels just as heavy a burden to carry as grief. Because celebrating someone else’s joy, rejoicing with them, can feel like admitting out loud that thing we don’t have, that thing we’re desperate for.
Being willing to rejoice anyway, being willing to see past your own disappointment and enter into your friend’s joy, is the very essence of being willing to lay down your life for your friend. And Jesus has told us that there is no greater love than this. When celebrating with friends comes easily, thank God and enjoy every moment.
But when it comes hard, lean into Jesus and ask Him to lend you His feelings so that you don’t miss out on the gift of getting to be the gift to someone else. And for those of us who are rejoicing, let’s not forget our friends on the high of our happiness. Let’s remember our people who may struggle to throw confetti. Let’s give them the gift of both understanding as well as acknowledging their unique season.
Shauna Niequist shares a story of what that looks like. Struggling through excruciating years of infertility and loss, she wrote on her blog how badly she wished she could just smash something, break something, hammer all her raw feelings to bits and pieces with a sledge hammer and a pair of safety goggles. And then a friend who’d just announced her pregnancy invited Shauna to lunch. It could have been terribly awkward—all that joy sitting across the table from all that raw pain.
But Shauna describes the surprise moment when her friend handed her a pair of safety goggles and said she’d be willing to smash things in shared pain and solidarity with Shauna any day of the week. Gracious joy making room for shared grief.”
— Lisa-Jo Baker
I know the sting when your point of pain is someone else’s joy. I know it all too well.
Like how they let you have a tour of their new home before they get married, room by room, with all the beaming joy of the experience and desiring you to share in their manifested promise when moving houses is a breathless topic for you. How you’ve hoped and tried and almost given up but you genuinely end up moved by how gracious they were letting you in even though it feels like the first 10 minutes of PS: I Love You because like Gerald Butler and Hillary Swank, how the story goes is that you’re not able to afford it.
Or that time my brother got a new job when his boss moved to another bank that gave him double his salary. I was equal parts excited and equal parts gutted because at the time, I was losing grip on my business and at the brink of giving up as I wondered why it wasn’t growing beyond a certain point.
How about that time a friend took me to her first workplace where she might go back for work. A place that took my breathe away in terms of its architecture, design and creative work culture (you get to leave whenever you’re done with your work) and it brought out awe and exposed my fear of beautiful places (for some reason, some companies, hotels and businesses almost feel too brilliant for me, they make me feel like I somewhat don’t belong there. It’s a lie, I know) and magnified the wound that was once the joy of working from home.
Or fighting to be happy clappy (and genuinely being so) for friends who flew or took a train to a destination for their anniversaries when Dave and I’s last vacation was our honeymoon almost 3 years ago. Sigh…
I’ve learned and I’m still learning to celebrate others through my tears. Won’t even get into it here. But I know, even from experience, that it’s possible and necessary.
God just slid this image into my mind. Have you ever watched The Price Is Right Game Show? Have you ever noticed how the audience members and hopeful players clap and shout for anyone who gets called up to play? It is electric! As the called up contestant makes his way to the stage, everyone reaches out to high five them, hug them and clap for them. Even better, when they have to guess prices while at the stage, everyone screams out answers in a bid to help.
And I get why God brought this to mind when I casually tuned into CBS online. The Price Is Right is a good vibes, go you extravaganza!
Maybe it’s also a picture of life as it should be.
Clap for and high five the ones called up even as you long for your turn coz your turn will come.
Share guesses with the called up ones not just because you’d want the same for you when it’s your turn but for the sheer thrill of watching someone just like you, who was in the audience longing to be called just like you, win. Do it for the joy and the possibility.
Do it because everyone has a story.
Do it because one day, the one screaming and crying and hugging and waving as they go to the stage and win big will be you.
In some ways, dancing in the rain and clapping through your tears are kind of the same, don’t you think?
Joy and grief.
Oh how we should let each cross their boundaries. That your joy may heal my grief and I can later lend you joy for your grief. An exchange. But one that needs you to show up nonetheless.
If women are the heartbeat of society, if we’re broken then are our hearts really beating?
If we are a pillow for the hurting, where will they rest when we turn to stone?
There’s a power in togetherness, one on one, that translates community-wide, nationwide before it explodes worldwide.
And like I said before, we could all use an epidemic of kindness, honesty and real love where we nurture oak high, ocean deep, universe wide relationships where we’re all seen, heard, welcome and celebrated.
“If ever there comes a time when the women of the world come together purely and simply for the benefit of mankind, it will be a force such as the world has never known.”
— Matthew Arnold
Was this some ride or what? I’m planning on getting the book (physical) and Bible study series online because wooh! What a journey this has been.
I hope it’s blessed you so as it’s blessed me to write it.
If you think someone else would be just as blessed by it, please share it with them on any of the platforms below. Also, you can click subscribe on the side bar and you’ll be able to get such posts sent to your inbox weekly.
All my love,