14 May 2015

One Guaranteed Way to Connect with Other Women

They asked me to speak at our church’s monthly women’s breakfast. I had no idea what to say or where to begin.

All I could think of is my long list of things I get wrong. On repeat. I’m not afraid of this list. I’m not embarrassed by it. I don’t feel the need to hide it. I just know that it’s not very preachy. It’s a list of who I am and also who I’m not.

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At 40 I have made peace with that combo. It no longer makes me want to weep that I forget dentist appointments. Micah has two warts and we got all the way out of school and to the Doctor’s office and onto the exam table and then he was just over it. He cried and I held him and they got part of it done and now we have to go back again in two weeks. But we showed up.

Should I tell them that the tumble dryer’s been slowly dying for months and while I think I should mention it to the landlord, I never actually got around to it till it’s good and dead and churning out stone cold wet clothes.

There’s a birthday party I promised one of our sons back in December that still hasn’t happened and one year I invited people to Zoe’s first birthday party for the wrong month, for goodness sakes.

There was a time for two days {and one night} that a diaper genie sat outside our front door. Don’t ask.

I sound like a woman stuck together with chewing gum and twine some days.

But on the inside I’m rock solid.

There’s this growing sense of who I am through Jesus’ lenses. Far, far from perfect. But deeply and profoundly loved. So thoroughly loved that my places where I get everything wrong aren’t as terrifying to me anymore.

And I’m learning that much like that storage closet we all have – you know the one – where left over odds and ends go to die and that we have to shove closed with a shoulder? Well cracking that closet open can be liberating.

When I’m willing to open a door into my mess then the women I know and the ones who read here can exhale, “me too.” So even though I wondered if God would give me something super spiritual to say on Saturday, He just shook His head and told me to keep doing in real life what I’ve been doing over here –

open the door to your mess and let other people in.

I am convinced that the shortest distance between strangers and friends is a shared story about our broken places.

So Saturday morning finds me standing in front of a lovely group of women and an even lovelier array of cinnamon crunch bagels sharing how desperately inept I’ve felt when it comes to mothering a daughter. How for years I attended a church where I didn’t know anyone beyond “fine.” And how my new strategy for making friends is going to be sharing more than they’re expecting to hear.

I want to be a radical truth teller when it comes to how hard motherhood is and also how holy.

I want to admit the days I am absolutely, 100% NOT fine.

I want to give the gift of going first by admitting my own struggles so other women can finally be comfortably asking for encouragement in theirs.

Friendship lives beyond the margins of blog posts. Friendship cups real hands around paper cups of coffee. Friendship can see when your mascara runs.

Beautiful reader, believe me when I tell you that we need those friends. We need to pack up our excuses and join that Bible study or moms group or coffee hour or book club or running team that we’ve been meaning to for months now.

Or maybe all we need to do is tell the truth when someone asks how we’re doing.

I promise it won’t be perfect.

Friendship with skin on will let you down. It will likely hurt you some times. But it will laugh with you, not at you, over the every day bits and pieces that make us real. So these days, I’m going all in. Random diaper genie outside the front door and all.

How about you?

Comments

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  1. 1

    Amen! To all of it. We need to share those “me, too” stories. Love this.

  2. 2
    Paige E says:

    Oh, how I have such a hard time with this. Not because I want others to see me as perfect, but I am just fiercely defensive about my family and tend to take others judgment to heart. Then I close up my shutters and I’m done. Jesus, help me to not just love on your people, but to also be accepting to their love as well!

  3. 3

    Yep! I am all in and actively PRAYING for those real, authentic friendships where we can all just breathe around each other because we are enough just as we are. Thanks for sharing your heart!

  4. 4

    Thank you for this. As I look around my messy house, the Mega blocks have exploded all over my sons floor, this is so encouraging to me.

  5. 5
    Christine says:

    Yes, yes, YES!! This is such important stuff! I’m teaching this in a mom’s study right now and we’re talking about how we have to be willing to create space in our lives for and then be willing to open our lives to the people God put into it. We are talking about how to practice Biblical hospitality, as opposed to the worldly version, which says that the diaper genie outside the door for two days is unacceptable. And we’re looking at how doing those things create the context for the kind of friendship Jesus practiced which brought real healing, comfort and joy to the people around him. Boast in those failings – they are the starting place for our greatest strengths!

  6. 6

    Thank you Lisa-Jo,
    First of all your house looks a lot like mine, except I have teenagers so switch that to make up, nail polish and leftovers!! You are speaking so much truth here it hurts. :) Keep on keepin’ on sister, we need more you out here.

  7. 7
    Beth W. says:

    Preach it Sister! Amen & Amen!!!!!

  8. 8

    Maybe I have something wrong with me! I never stop telling it how it is, I don’t care how it makes me look! I just say it, and since most people are relieved to hear that someone is the same (or worse) than them at cleaning/washing children, etc I just aim to continue! =)

    Why be embarrassed that your house is a mess? Or gross – as I said in a recent email to praying friends? It is how it goes at times, and we all have those times. I don’t think it is something to be ashamed of… Oh, it might not be the best thing – to have a messy house – but there are times when those of the species who are so emotional driven, just can’t keep it all together!

    Recently I saw a long-time friend – and as we parted, she said, “thanks for being real” – REAL? I didn’t realise I was different to others, I just talk about life, because it is what I deal with every day!

  9. 9

    And this is why we love you! You don’t say that and then tell stories of perfection. You say you’re going to be vulnerable and then tell us how you lose your temper, how your kids bring a hurricane of mud through a clean house, how you would have rather swallowed glass than have a baby at one point in your life.

  10. 10

    Oh boy, do I ever have mixed feelings about this. I love to be real. I’m not afraid to be authentic; but I am terrified of being “that” person who needs to tell all their truth, all the time. I don’t want to be misunderstood as attention seeking, instead of door opening. I don’t want Bible Study to turn into a therapy session because they assume I carry all this guilt and baggage, when really I just want it to be like you said…No pretence, no fences.

    • 11

      Dear Sara,

      Sweet beloved daughter of God–even if you ARE sharing to get attention or because you feel desperate, that is okay! We are commanded to bear one another’s burdens to fulfill the law of Christ. We don’t do nearly enough of that. The truth is, often we don’t open up because we don’t want to hear someone else’s hurts because we ALL feel put together with tape and band-aids to the extent that we think the whole world is broken and will fall apart if we are ALL real. But we ARE all broken! That is why we need Jesus so much!

      Be free! Share your heart with the Lord first, then with others, and you will feel better, and most likely — as Lisa-Jo does — you will encourage others in the process! (And, if the women you are with are judgmental, you should rethink your friend group. It is not Christ-like to kick someone when they are struggling.)

      Much love,
      Selena

  11. 12
    Alicia p says:

    LJ- It has taken me three days to listen to your focus on the family interview… because, motherhood. and i’m MORE amazed by you every time. you spoke to some places that needed healing in my heart that I DIDN’T EVEN KNOW i needed. Just wanted to say THANK YOU! I have a string of “little sisters” behind me that are watching how i “mother” and I am praying to be honest & open with them as they begin to enter these years. Thanks for being that big sis role i never knew i was missing! “In him ALL THINGS hold together” is now written over my home. THANK YOU

  12. 13

    “I sound like a woman stuck together with chewing gum and twine some days.” Man. I think we might be sisters. That whole birthday party promised back in December? Yeah. That whole storage closet thing? Did I miss your visit to my house?

    Thank you for sharing your messy with all of us. It makes even an old lady like me feel better. Reading your stories helps me remember those momma days when mine were young and I thought I had lost my mind. Wait. I see what you did here. Are we BONDING? :)

  13. 14

    I’m on board!! I’m so ready for a non-Pinterest, non-Martha Stewart life over here and for real, authentic community. I think our story and unpacking the lies we believe is the first step in being honest – honest with ourselves and honest with others. Thanks, Lisa-Jo, you hit it out of the park once again.

  14. 15
    Stephanie H says:

    Friendship is something that has been weighing very heavily on my heart and mind lately. I really appreciate your post and your honesty and transparency. I, myself, greatly struggle with making friends. In all honesty, at this point in my journey, I feel rather isolated from any/everyone outside my “in house” family unit (my wonderful husband and beautiful daughter.) Maybe it’s the fact that I can’t do as much as I could before (at 7 months pregnant I’m pretty well exhausted a majority of the time) but it just feels like my support group is pulling away at a time I most need them. I’m so nervous about becoming mom to daughter #2 and how much things will change or if I have what it takes to do the job God has entrusted me to do well, so worried that I won’t be able to keep up with everything (the house is already a wreck) and a little edgy wondering how my beautifully rambunctious, highly spirited, super independent 3.5 year old princess will adjust to not having the total spotlight anymore. My best friend of years has been steadily pulling away despite attempts to bridge the ever growing gap, even my parents whom I’ve always been super close to have become distant, consumed by work and their new significant others. I have an amazing church family, but unfortunately we don’t have small groups or bible studies outside regularly scheduled services. As a woman i long for that sense of community and fellowship with other women of like mind and heart to share the ups and downs of everyday life with. How wonderful it would be to have someone to genuinely relate to that’s been here, someone to offer advice and encouragement and vice versa. Don’t get me wrong, I thank the Lord for my amazing husband who is always open and available to talk about any and everything, but there’s just some things, despite his best efforts, that he’s incapable of understanding. I so desperately need some comradery but, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to find and keep it. *sigh*

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