It takes a good friend to get up at 5 am to meet me at the gym.
There’s sweat, there are leftover sheet marks on cheeks and by all means, there isn’t any makeup.
I submitted to her get-in-shape-via-cardio-interval plan one morning last month completely unaware of what I was getting myself into. We began on the treadmill and gradually over the course of 20 minutes she had me running at almost seven miles an hour.
“We won’t be able to talk in a minute,” she said to me over the whirr of the early morning gym sounds.
And she was right.
After almost an hour of quadricep-burning, lung-fatiguing intervals we ended up on the stationary bikes.
Except for our treadmill sprints we’d been talking the whole morning. I’m a firm believer in creating relationships through exercise because suffering together is a bonding experience. Marriage and fitting into wedding dresses, friendship and church. We’d talked about it all.
She looked over at me and said, “Can I push you on something?”
She’d been “pushing” me all morning so I wondered what more she could possibly want.
“What happened to your book, Sarah?”
Ugh. THE thing in my life right now that might be the most difficult and most humbling thing to talk about. She wants me to talk about it at 5:45 in the morning.
Last year I’d begun writing a book and I’d gotten nearly halfway finished. A publisher contacted me and looked at my proposal. “I believe in you,” he told me.
My spirit and my heart lifted. Maybe this is it.
“But with the current economy, “He followed, “we’re only taking big authors right now.”
“You are too much of a risk.” Is what he ended with.
I’d known it was a long shot.
So in March I printed out copies of my manuscript, my proposal and the list of publishers that would be at my upcoming writer’s conference.
“It’s too edgy,” one publisher said.
“Have you thought about changing the perspective/format/main idea?” the other publishers mirrored.
I cried. I sat on a bench. Again, I’d known it was a long shot.
So I shelved it.
I haven’t written one word on my manuscript since before I left for Santa Cruz last March.
It sits there on my hard drive gathering digital dust.
So when my friend asked about my book on the stationary bikes, I had nothing to hide. I told her about my frustration, my confusion, my feelings of failure. And she listened.
She had “pushed” me, with the risk of my clamming up or worse being angry at her for asking a question that would make me feel exposed and vulnerable.
But instead I felt loved. And I know she asked because she loved me and was concerned for me.
I’m learning that that is community. Risking friendship, ease of communication and a gym-buddy is worth the closeness and intimacy that comes with both asking hard questions and being willing to answer them.
She knew my dream is to write. She knew that my dream is to see women healed. She knew these things about me and she was willing to participate in maybe the most beautiful and hardest part of community: confrontation, sharpening, questioning.
Because what happens as a result can be amazing.
Do you have a friend who is willing to ask you the hard questions? Are you willing to answer?
I need a friend like that! I, too, have shelved a book. Perhaps it’s time to dust it off…
My best friend and I have never hesitated to ask the hard questions and battle it out (in honesty and with love) until there were real, soul-truth answers. It’s gets pretty bumpy sometimes, but we’re always better for it. I am so grateful to have friends like that!
I do have a friend that is willing to push. We have been friends for quite some time now, and though we don’t often get to the “heart-to-heart” talks as often as we like, she knows me well enough to see when things need to be addressed and “pushed.” Thanks for drawing my attention to that necessary piece of our friendship!
I have a couple of those “pushy” friends!
I’m going to be more intentional about listening to them!
Goodluck to you……God is way bigger than we ever let him be in our minds! 🙂
Dori Cox says
My favorite Christian store is The Open Door in Terre Haute, Indiana. They have the most beautiful store, and friendly, helpful people that go out of their way to help you and make sure they have what you need, or will order it for you.
My favorite Christian Book Store is the Abbey in Norfolk NE.
Deb Martell says
The Garden of Readin’, Elmbrook Church – Brookfield, WI
Yes, but we don’t get together often enough!
Thank you Sarah for this reminder! A “Push” friend is a rare treasure!
I’m so thankful for all my friends, but the handful who are willing to push me and let me push them are rare treasures.
regarding the cards…I’ve already given away two and plan to give away more by Sunday.
I can purchase Dayspring products at Berean Christian store!
Don’t let them discourage you! Your time is coming when your book will be published. I do have friends who will ask the hard questions. I hope I am one of those friends as well. Life would be really hard if we didn’t have good friends! I also have a writer/author friend who pushes me to write. She has encouraged me so much that with my first ever contest entry, I won 🙂
My best friend of 17+ years is like that for me! It’s hard to listen sometimes, but I know what she says is out of love. Thank you for sharing your heart with us! 🙂
Krista @ Life in Texas says
Ugh. My mother in law “pushed” me two weeks ago, and she didn’t do it very nicely or gracefully. I’m honestly pretty wounded because it was a dose of bitter truth mixed with unfair accusations, and a drop of painful knowledge that she will never admit to also being an offending party in this confrontation.
We’re still in the middle of a big fat relationship mess.
Yet over the years, I have been pushed positively by her many times. She challenges me to be a better mom, a more genuine Christian, a more transparent married woman.
While she and I may be struggling in the present to have enough grace for one another’s humanity, I am sure that eventually God’s grace will spill over us both, and there will be enough of it to help heal this hurt on both sides.
Penny Swanson says
Yes! I have a friendship like this. I actually have several friendships like this. My friends and I realize that true friendships do ask the hard questions of each other because we recognize the value in being honest and true in what we say to each other.
Favorite Christian store is a Family Christian store because it’s the only one within 30 minutes of me!
I have a dear friend that is willing to push me and she does it in such a loving way. She knows that it’s hard for me to open up, so she pushes me to do it, if only with her.
This post encourages me to be a little more “pushy” with my friends. This is something that I will strive to work on.
i just moved so I’ve looked up (using the store locator!) and have found that 7th Ave Stationers and Becoming God’s Answer are near by me. I can’t wait to spend some time wandering around those stores!
Kristine McGuire says
This is a beautiful example of what a true friend is all about. Someone who actually asks you those important questions because they care. 🙂
By the way, I understand exactly where your coming from about the book as I’ve experienced the same thing. I chose to self-publish (you end up doing as much work for promotion either way). The book industry is changing. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
YUp, I have a couple of those friends and I wouldn’t trade them for the world. They are the ones that when I actually ask,” do these jeans make my butt look big?” They answer with the truth (lol, yes, or no, or no, it is your butt that makes those jeans look big. =0)wink)
It took me a long time to get people in my life who I felt safe enough to answer accurately when asked the hard questions. I never lied but I didn’t always disclose everything. But my need to be known started to grow and I knew that if I didn’t start risking then I would never know true community. So I started risking and in the process found more love and connectedness than I could ever imagine. So now I have a handful of people who will ask the hard questions and to whom I am willing to honestly and authentically respond with the WHOLE truth!
P.S: You need to write that book. I suspect I’m one of the women who need to read it.
In the past, I have found myself annoyed at those who ask those “tough” questions. But I have come to realize they ask out of love and nothing more.
Thanks for sharing! This was a great post!
Great post….yes, I thankfully have a friend like that. I know when she and I are together, we are going to talk about the hard stuff, the stuff I don’t like to talk about, the ugliness in my heart….but she draws it out of me…and I get to do the same with her. I love her because of it, too…because I know she cares more about the condition of my heart and mind. We get to disciple each other and lead each other closer to Jesus.
Thanks for this post!!
My favorite Christian Store is Family Christian Stores, simply because it is my only option where I live.
It’s been awhile since I had a friend who was willing to take the risk and ask me the hard questions. I’m slowly developing that friendship with someone now where I didn’t expect it. But, it’s such a gift to have that person in your life!
Ginny Hafer says
I buy my Christian cards almost exclusively at Family Christian Stores in Phoenix, Arizona. Not only is it not too far from where I live, they definitely have the best prices and a good selection. I send many cards, both via email and regular mail, and the message they convey is very important to me. So, I appreciate the fact that these lovely cards are made available at a reasonable price.
i feel like i’m in a place where i’m both tired and afraid (in equal measure) of being pushed. or even asked about what i’m needing to process through right now. i feel paralyzed and it’s as though i don’t want to be alone and i do want to be alone all at the same time.
i’m not even sure this makes any sense. i can’t find words lately. not the right ones anyway…
loving you, sarah. so much.
Thanks for this story. I often wish I had more friends willing to push me. I am finding them in several of the blogs I’ve been reading lately though. ~Jessica
My favorite store is Sweet Spirit in Marietta, GA.
I have this yearning for a friend like that, but haven’t really found her. My husband gets the privilege of being the one companion to push me. Not the same as coming from a friend.
Beth Werner Lee says
I don’t think so, but sometimes a friend has shut me down or worked through something with me. I think I need to be more along that line, the friend that lovingly asks the hard question and maybe I’ll gain friends willing to return the favor!
My new favorite christian book store is Family Christian Store #381!! There are always special deals for everyone in the family! And GREAT COUPONS, too!! The sales staff is so helpful.
My favorite book store is Inspiration House located in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida…
Friends are a treasure and one good friend is a diamond, I am thankful to have that diamond!!!
Anjanette Warren says
I have a very forward, blunt friend who pushes me to think about things in a different way – always indirectly to never hurt my feelings.
jodi @ back40life says
I don’t have anybody who is quite that close right now…clearly I need to pray more and ask God for that. great reminder!
Yes, I have a friend who keeps reminding me to “put my big girl panties on” and deal with the things in my life right now. Even though I often resist initially, I know she pushes me because she cares about me. I also have a friend who is willing to “push” me to do the right thing, when my first inclination is to wallow in anger, frustration, or bitterness over a particularly painful recurrent situation, she reminds me to let go of those heavy, burdensome emotions, and give them to God, allowing Him to heal all that is broken. I thank God everyday for friends who don’t tell me what I want to hear, but rather care enough to tell me what I need to hear, to “push” me into God’s arms.
P.S. My favorite Christian store is Mardel!!
I am the friend that asks those questions but the friends that I have, don’t like answering them. They feel that I don’t think before I speak or just don’t answer. Sometimes I wonder why I even bother..
I have a couple firends who push me on the hard questions when needed. I remember specifically during the planning process for women’s program that I was failing. Failing God, the speaker and the women who’d signed up to come. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees and was focused on the monetary aspect of the process rahter than the blessing that the event would be. My two closest prayer warriors listened to me cry and muddle through my thoughts and both asked me if “I” was the barrier to any progress. I hadn’t thought about it, but it became completely clear that I had usurped God’s authority in that aspect. Once I returned it to Who it belonged, everything worked out like He had laid on my heart to begin with. I cherish those two ladies for calling me out and holding me up along the way. I am truly blessed to call them friends!
cindy morris says
I do have a dear friend who asks the hard questions and pushes me, sometimes gently sometimes not so gently, every day. I was away from her for 25 years and at times not in a good place. When I finally decided to follow my lord and savior and turn my life around, I moved just around the block from my friend. For the past two years she has asked the hard questions and pushed me to do things I never thought I could do. I have learned so much from her these past two years. Now my friend is going to die of liver cancer. She is pushing me more than ever to stay on the path the Lord has given me. To become confident in my faith and myself. I am certain she will continue to push me right up to the end. Thank you, Mom.
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