Tag Archives: friends

What Is A Friend? My review of Why Can’t We Be Friends? by Aimee Byrd

Amy Mantravadi and Rachel Miller have both written excellent, very detailed reviews of this book. I commend them both to you.

I was excited to be a part of the launch team for Aimee Byrd’s newest book. As I’ve written in the past, I have enjoyed the Mortification of Spin podcast for several years, and one of my summer books last year was Byrd’s No Little Women, which I highly recommend. I have been surprised at the backlash Aimee has received in the lead up to this book. The number of people accusing her of actively sabotaging marriages has been startling and unjust. Reading Why Can’t We Be Friends has confirmed to me that as a culture we don’t really know what friendship is.

My closest friends in the whole world, outside of family, are Jawan, Becky and Sarah. They are the people I would drive miles out of my way to see. I weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice. My heart is lifted when I see I have a message or email from them. They are my friends. I love them.

If I spent hours talking to, texting, or messaging, them while ignoring my family, that would not be friendship. It would be an unhealthy relationship. If I talked to them about my hopes and dreams and the deepest part of my soul and didn’t share any of that with my husband, both my friendships and my marriage would be in very unhealthy states. I love those women, but I have never had a candle light dinner with either of them, because that’s not what friends do. As Aimee points out in her book, friendship isn’t exclusive.

The thing is, healthy limits are a part of healthy friendships, regardless of the shared or differing sex of the participants. My friendships with Jawan, Becky and Sarah doesn’t threaten my marriage, not because they are women, but because they are my friends.  The relationship I have with my husband is unique and exclusive. My friendships are not. In fact, as Aimee points out, my friendships with those women don’t threaten my friendships with other friends like Natalie and Jocelyn and Suzanne. Friendship doesn’t work that way. When Jawan introduced me to Becky, she didn’t lose part of her friendship with me. We both gained a shared friend, and the many benefits of that.  If I ever behave to my friends in the way I behave to my husband, I would have crossed lines that friendship is not designed to cross. The objections to other sex friendships assume that friendships will always lead to crossing those lines, but true friendship doesn’t.

The problem with both the hook up culture and the purity/courtship culture is that every interaction with the other sex is as a potential sexual partner. This is unhelpful and unnecessary; it is also learned. Friendship in any context will fail if we expect all human interaction to result in a unique, exclusive relationship. We will be dissatisfied with every point of contact. Friendship should be our normative definition of intimacy, with sexual partnership properly identified as rare and exclusive. In this case, cross sex friendship should be the antidote to, not the casualty of, a hyper-sexualized culture. The more inclusive our friendships, the more personal, but less novel and exclusive, the individuals with whom we relate will seem.

All the redeemed, male and female, make up the bride of Christ and are sons in the Son (p 136)

Why Can’t We Be Friends is about friendships and faithfulness in the body of Christ. Aimee takes solid, and uncontested biblical truths, and makes the good and necessary application of them to our relationships with the other sex. She then roots those relationships in the outworking of the local church and the means of grace. Byrd’s words and application, from beginning to last, are about faithful friendship within the covenant community of God and it is this context I think her detractors are missing. Aimee isn’t calling us to seek out the other sex just to prove we can. Nor is she calling for a general “free for all” attitude to interpersonal relationships. She is calling Christians to be the covenant community we are called to be. Her words echo Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NASB)

I hope a lot of people actually read this book for its content, instead of disagreeing with it blindly, or hunting the perceived heresy. If that can happen, we can begin to have the real conversations about friendships and wisdom between the sexes.

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Not A Redneck Joke

redneck  Two weeks ago, I uttered the sentence: “I’m sorry we couldn’t make it to the tractor pull. We had to move chickens.” Yes. Really.

My children have to pick potato beetles from the potato plants every morning before they can play, and some days we see more tractors and four wheelers on our road than cars. This is rural life.

It is easy when my to do list includes “hill potatoes” and “shuck peas” to present myself as a caricature of the country preacher’s wife, becoming the stereo-type I have always hated to read. It is tempting to go for the easy laugh.

But for all of the ways that our life looks different from the life we lived in St. Louis and Columbus, there are infinite ways that it doesn’t. There are still hurting people and happy people. There are victories and defeats and the mundanes in between. We are praying for health and for jobs and for lost souls. We are doing our best to love people, and we are sometimes failing. The promises of God are true, and we all need to hear them every week (or more) no matter where we have lived.

So yes, there are tractor pulls and chickens, and I have shucked a lot of peas. But there is so much more to this life than those trappings. The people we love and the life we are building here are precious to us, and Jonathan’s calling to serve the church is an honor. It is rural life, and rural ministry, but I will not make it one big redneck joke. It is so much deeper than that.


Beautiful Book End

In 2010 we had our first seminary US Thanksgiving. We weren’t going to travel, and our new neighbors, the Baudhuins, had just brought a baby home from NICU, so they weren’t traveling. We decided to celebrate together. (I posted about it here.)

I remember vague things about that Thanksgiving, but mostly I remember that the subject of how long 4 years really was came up a lot. There was no real way of knowing that we would walk closely through these years together. For two years Bliss and I and our children ate dinner together every Tuesday evening while our husbands worked, or were in class. We have celebrated other holidays together, and birthdays and the ends of semesters and the ticking down, class by class, of those four years that seemed so daunting this time in 2010.

This summer as we were meeting the church that would become our new home, the Baudhuins were doing the same and when we came back to our neighborhood with the news that we would be leaving a semester early, Chad and Bliss literally jumped in delight, because they, too, had abbreviated their four years to three and a half. So we arrived together and will step out together. It only seemed fitting to celebrate this Thanksgiving, our last Thanksgiving, together like we had our first.

Here we were then:

Thankful for friends we didn't know six months ago.

And here we are now:

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In Which Another Mental Myth is DeBunked

One of the things I decided when I was hugely uncomfortably pregnant with the snickerdoodle was that I was going to make more of an effort to reach out to women in their final four to six weeks of pregnancy. I appreciated the meals that came after the snickerdoodle was born, but the people who either brought food or invited us over for meals in those last weeks before she made her appearance are burned forever in my mind as some of my most favorite people EVER!

There aren’t as many pregnant women in my life this year as there were last, but one of them is the wife of one of our associate (assistant? I always get those confused) pastors at church. I hesitated before even suggesting to her that we would like to either bring them a meal or host them here. I guess I’m still holding on to some of those “larger church myths” that have lived so long in my mind – one of which is that the staff of larger churches are far too important and busy and importantly busy to spend time with the little folks, especially little folks who will graduate and likely move on to smaller things in the next three years.

So I hesitated, but eventually sent her a quick email asking if such a thing would be a help.

Tonight they came for dinner.

I can’t say enough how glad I was that I let go of that myth.

We had such a great, easy evening that part of the way through, as we were chatting about something or other I found myself laughing in my head at this idea that these nice, enjoyable, fun people would have turned their noses up at dinner in seminary housing. Turns out that they were real people. Who knew?

All of this reminds me of why I love having people in my home. When we see each other exclusively at church, or out in social situations, we can often think of them as not quite real, but when we’re in one another’s homes we begin to take form as genuine people who do simple things like eat, and take our kids to the potty. It’s how we build community and it’s why God calls us to be hospitable.

Because it turns out we’re all real people.


Why I May Not Blog In the Next Few Days

The McGinnises have come to play and we are too busy having fun to get on the computer. 🙂


Betsy Has a Birthday

Tonight our friend Betsy had a surprise birthday party and we were invited.

Another neighbor entertained the kids while we waited for the guest of honor to arrive.

When she arrived, she was really surprised!

Her husband announced all the food in a big food runway event.

While the children - mine front and center - danced. It was dinner and a show.

I’ll get you all the pictures tomorrow Betsy, but I hope you don’t mind me sharing some of them here first.  Thanks for including us in your celebration!  We had a LOT of fun.

 


Can’t see the Forest for the Twigs

Last week I found out that one of my oldest childhood friends has cancer, and two friends’ marriages are falling apart, one slowly and painfully, one quickly and painfully.  It sort of puts the whole “none of my clothes fit properly” complaints into perspective.  It also shocked me out of a personal pity party I was permitting myself.  (How’s that for alliteration?)

Jonathan’s schedule last week was HORRIBLE!  When it showed up in the e-mail inbox I pitched a fit.  Unfortunately, I pitched it by e-mail to my friend Becky.  I engaged in some ungodly attitudes and thoughts and general “poor me” behavior.  I grumbled.  I complained.  I felt sorry for myself and expected others to do the same.

Then I kept getting news from friends.  Pretty soon I was thanking God for a series of late nights and long days, and Jonathan put things in even more perspective when he reminded me that we have to guard our own marriage from the things that have attacked these others.  I didn’t need to be complaining to God about a few 10 hour days.  I didn’t need to pray against a 10 am – 8 pm Saturday shift.  Instead, I needed to be begging the Lord to keep us from temptation and deliver us from evil.  I was so lost in the twigs, I had lost perspective on the forest.

The final straw of conviction was coming to the end of the week and realizing that unlike cancer and broken marriages, the difference between a bad schedule and a good one is seven days, and sometimes less than that.  A training day that had been scheduled for Sunday was rescheduled for a Wednesday, and Jonathan’s schedule has been reworked from five shifts of six or seven hours, to three shifts of ten hours.  That means four suppers and bedtimes with Daddy instead of two.  It means three nights he can do his homework after the kids go to bed, instead of sometimes having to put in a couple of hours reading or studying after getting home at 11:00 pm.

It means that while my friends are dealing with real struggles, I was pitching a fit about something so temporary as to be laughable.  This week I’m delighted in the new schedule and reminded that most of the things about which I complain are both fleeting and irrelevant.

It means this week, when I’m tempted to complain about regular pants being too small and maternity pants being too big, I’m going to stop and pray for my friends and their families and hopefully look up from my little twigs, to see the forest around me once in a while.