14 August 2005


Clayton has a series going which, although I haven't read it in too much depth, I find very interesting and helpful.

For a very long time in my life, I had no friends. It happened after I was married; the kind of people I liked would have been highly uncomfortable with my husband. (Okay, so that would've been a clue...) The isolation from friends lasted so long because I'm not the type to give up easily, and also because I was suffering from that lonely sin, pride. I learned the hard way that when you're lonely, pride, or one of its endlessly morphing manifestations might be lurking around somewhere in the ol' psyche.

The newly humiliated me (I shall not yet claim to be humble - I'm blogging, aren't I? ) has learned to reach out and offer friendship to those around me. I was an only child for ten years, and a solitary soul by nature; my mother's alcoholism just isolated me further. I'm not at all comfortable with "joining" anything. (Over at Amy's she asked people to describe what they liked about their parishes; every time I read "people are so friendly!", I cringe. I don't know how to express it properly to people, but to do the friendly thing with me at church is to frighten me off for months at a time. Just give me a cordial nod and a smile, then leave me alone to look around and take it all in. I'll get back to you when I'm ready ... really I will.)

I've been reflecting on friendship, because I have two very stalwart friends now, and their encouragement and sharing have transformed my life. I am at a loss how to repay the favor, except by being as good a friend as I can in return, and by allowing their encouragement to be reflected in my life.

As I try to understand the choices I made at certain points in my life... figuring out why I chose the way I did... my relationships with friends, and my attitude towards friendship, are what I think about now. For so many years I would snort in derision to hear a husband or wife prattling on about how they'd married their best friend, blah blah blah. I see now that the derision came from deep hurt and confusion. Reading what Clayton has posted about friendship is like repair work on my understanding. Sometimes it helps to go over the ground and, while one cannot start fresh, at least work to fill in the thin spots with truth.

I came this close to marrying my best friend. Circling back to talk about it with him was the blessing of a lifetime. Neither of us really knew what we had in one another. Or, if we did, we felt sure the other was only pretending to like us, or that such bliss could never be ours. Somehow, kids have to be enabled to think they are worthy of friendship. In our extreme self-doubt, my friend and I were suffering from the worst kind of pride, the kind that believes we are so insignificant - so somehow extra-achievingly unworthy - that no one in their right mind would ever take us seriously. And, for that reason, we didn't take ourselves seriously. The love and respect and awe we felt in one another's presence, we experienced in solitude, even as we embraced one another.

For me, humility means learning that I'm not so clumsy or despicable as I think I am. I'm not extraordinarily sinful, nor am I particularly virtuous. My talents are good in some areas, but mostly I'm just typical. I am muddling thru, by the grace of God, like everyone else. And, if I will quit focusing on myself, for God's sake, maybe He'll be able to act in my life without having to shove me out of the way to do it - which He very rarely will.

At the Dominican Nuns' blog, on June 25, they had a quote posted which, alas, I cannot find there now. I'm glad I printed it when I saw it; I have it on the refrigerator and it has inspired me ever since. It's a quote from Fr. Walter Farrell, O.P.:

"Let God tend to the hopeless-looking things ... It seems to me quite entrancing to be able to pile into bed realizing there is someone as big as God to do all the worrying that has to be done. Worry, you know, is a kind of reverence given to a situation because of its magnitude; how small it must be through God's eyes... You can't get everything done in a day, nor can you get any part of it done as well as it could be, or even as well as you'd like it; so, like the rest of us, you putter at your job with a normal amount of energy, for a reasonable length of time, and go to bed with the humiliating yet exhilarating knowledge that you are only a child of God and not God Himself."

For a very long time, I was unable to do just that. I spent untold hours of misery, castigating myself because I could not work harder and Do Everything - with the predictable result that I got nothing done! I was constantly discouraged. Now, I'm learning to do just a little bit - give thanks - do a bit more - rest. God has blessed me in this season of my life by letting me finally see that it's not all about me, and it all doesn't have to be done today. Just because I cannot see the end of the work, or understand why it's not getting done, doesn't matter. I'm to do what I can do, today. Tomorrow, I will do some more. And I will do all of it better if I'm well-rested, well-fed, and in the proper frame of mind.

The most humiliating thing is to realize that it took me so very many years to figure all this out. There is no pride left. :) And, with pride slinking away, at last - in come friends. Deo gratias.

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