I’m still a “park mom” but I fear that my simple park days are numbered.
They’re getting older and the bucket swing is almost a thing of the past as is the chase-the-toddler stage. So I usually sit on a bench and watch them play. To a tired mother, the park is a breath of fresh outdoor air on an April afternoon. To two little girls, the neighborhood playground is a world of possibilities contained in a couple acres of municipal property.
“Do you think there will be other kids there, mom? How long can we stay?” My eight-year-old’s anticipation builds as we walk up the hill and around the corner.
Her expectation isn’t for jungle gyms and monkey bars, but for the prospect of new friendship in the space of a short spring afternoon.
“Maybe Brooke will be here,” my littlest thinks out loud. And I know that her best friend, Brooke will NOT be at the park. But it doesn’t matter. She makes friends with more confidence than most adults I know. We get to the park edge and they both race off, eager to introduce themselves to all children remotely within their age range.
They find sisters playing, five and seven, and immediately they are all new friends, creating a pirate ship from a jungle gym and a castle from a pair of slides.
Just like most children, their friendships are fast and strong. When we have to walk back to begin dinner, they both cry because they might not ever see them again. The “never” is left in the void of their hearts.
Contrary to popular opinion, we women have trouble making friends.
As women we weigh, we watch and we wonder if that other woman will socially work with us, if we will connect, if it will be easy conversation. We hover around the edges until the moment is right and tentatively offer a sliver of personal information and hope they offer back. We walk carefully near the fringes of people, watching where we step because if we get too close we will be in heart-hurting range. It can take years.
We don’t make a practice of quick love. We’ve lost it somewhere between nail polish and stealing one another’s boyfriends.
What if we loved as quickly and as passionately as a four or an eight-year-old?
What if we threw our whole hearts into the basket, opened up our entire souls to be vulnerable? What if we jumped into one another’s lives and showed the kind of broad-stroked love that Jesus did?
Whomever. No matter what they’d done.Or are doing.
Sure, we might get stepped on once in awhile.
But what if?
I’d never be lonely with such quick love or have that empty space in my heart.
I wouldn’t feel the void of wanting to tell something to someone and not knowing who.
And what if the Church ran out into the open acres of the world with the same kind of messy, open love that a child has?
We’d never have empty pews. We would BE community. We would BE love, just like we should be.
Do you love quickly?
by Sarah Markley, The Best Days of My LifeLeave a Comment
Julia @ Dark Glass Ponderings says
Great post. I’ve often thought the same thing as I watch my 5-year-old playing at an indoor playground or eagerly approaching a new neighbor. I’ve struggled with shyness and worrying too much about other’s opinions for as long as I can remember. But this is my desire and day-by-day as God works through us…we live His love more and more clearly.
I felt every word of this post in my heart. I understand you completely.
I have formed lightening-fast friendships, but that has been a rare experience. For the most part, I can relate to watching, waiting, and wondering if this could be another friendship forming. Self-protection is at the root. And maybe insecurity is there beside it.
Thanks for that this morning 🙂 What a great way to start the day! Very thought provoking!
Julie Todd says
I left this on your blog, Sarah:
Honestly I believe some of the biggest hindrances to women making deeper relationships is SHAME. Shame blankets our lives in ways we have no clue, I’m discovering. When we feel shame for who we see ourselves to be we don’t want to let anyone else see either so
Honestly, I struggle with relationships with other women. Not as much as I used to, but I struggle, still. And I like the thought of the church ‘running out into the open acres of the world.’ I like that. That’s what it’s about isn’t it?
Great thoughts, my friend.
No…I love cautiously. It takes me so long to recover from hurts. And yes Julie, shame enters in the equation more than we want to admit. So much is expected of mothers that we are afraid to let our vulnerable side show. I try very hard to be non-critical of the friends that I have. Being loving helps to build intimacy and trust. But other women seem sometimes to be more competitive than loving, so I back away. It would be lovely to throw all the cares to the wind and love unselfconsciously. For me, I believe that would take a miracle or two. 🙂
My sister in law wrote this as her facebook status towards me…I a have not asked her to be my friend..but i would like to have some respect. This is why I have a hard time trusting and being friends with others..because at the end of the day..this is what some people think…if only you could read the harsh words she wrote because all I asked from her was to be involved in my nieces lives.
“I believe there is a difference between holding grudges and standing up for what you believe in. I do not want to fill my life with people that I have to be careful or cautious around. I want friends that I know have my back no matter what , and don’t JUDGE PEOPLE! Some people need to sweep under their own feet before they lash out about someone else & spread lies…Let’s tell both sides of the story.”
How sad is it that. We are suppose to be women of christ but yet we can not even love freely and have respect for others.
Melissa K says
Through you, God met me right where I needed Him this morning. Thank you for sharing these words of truth and challenge.
I have given love very freely my whole life. It’s been very easy for me to open myself up and get attached to people. However, after a very close friend lied to me, used me, and walked all over me last year, I have become a different person. My ability to trust and open up is much more difficult to come by now. The recovery from that was pretty difficult and I’m uncertain whether I want to risk that again.
Melissa Brotherton says
Today Bonnie Gray is talking about “what if” on her blog. A few of us asked ourselves that question about situations in our lives…but this is a what if I’m scared to ask myself: “What if we jumped into one another’s lives and showed the kind of broad-stroked love that Jesus did?”
Friendship scares me. Vulnerability terrifies me. Rejection paralyzes me. I’d rather be miserable alone because I chose it then miserable alone because someone doesn’t care if I exist.
Your what if is a challenge to me. What if I tried again? What if I opened up? What if I trusted God with my heart?
You’ve got me thinking, Sarah.
LOVE this post Sarah!
I do love quickly, and this post has been educational for me. Like the kid on the playground who asks someone to play and is eyed up and then turned down, I sometime am confused by the logistics of female friendships. I AM one to bound up to a newcomer at church and spill out my thoughts and ask them about theirs, or strike up a conversation with the other mom on the bench at the park. I’ve been rebuffed, I’ve been pushed back, I’ve been snubbed and like a puppy dog I just keep jumping up. Silly. I guess I just don’t get it. I’m too open and I’ve had to learn to give space, to circle, to sniff, to invite and re-invite and re-invite until authenticity is established. Reading your post, and the comments I’m learning why. It’s not me, necessarily, it’s the history of hurt and the inability to trust that closes doors to quick and easy love and friendships. I’m still bounding though, with tongue hanging out and tail a-waggin’. As long as I don’t let hurt put a leash on me, there’s no harm in trying.
Cha Cha says
Oh em, I could not have written it better, I have spent hours on my knees wondering why i can’t make friend easily, I am ready and open and offering, Sometime I guess people have been hurt so often before, that it is hard to believe that someone could be open. I get my feelings hurt but I need to stop making it aabout me and pray for them and their needs we still may not be bff’s but at least I will like I shared love with them.
Cheryl Fleener says
Hi Sarah, truly enjoyed the post. Making friends has been easy for me, as I will talk in the grocery line too.
At this present time I have a few women friends, none I see regularly though. I have been retired for 3 years, am 63, travel across the country to visit and stay for 2 to 4 months with daughter’s family and grandkids. Hubby and I have a good talking, fun time together. I miss having that close, talk on the phone for hours woman friend, who would laugh, cry and sit at Starbuck’s for hours with me. I don’t have a best friend, but have had many best friends at the same time. I have had friends come in and out of my life though, some for that season, others we just faded…… thank you for your insight…nana C
I may be weird but I tend to jump right in feet first. I make friends quickly and usually easily. I LOVE my friends, they support, love, encourage and fulfill me. I try to give that back. Maybe I am still a child at heart??? At the ripe old age of 62!!!!!!!!!!!!
Thanks for posting this! And for understanding that loving quickly isn’t easy for everyone.
Oh, God, give me that kind of love that loves everyone easily and quickly, counting the cost as worth it!