Beloved, let us love one another.
Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.
-- Mother Teresa
This week for Lent, I am focusing on relationships-- friendships, acquaintances, people we pass on the street, those we write comments to on Facebook. Sometimes I'm so dismayed by the things I read on social media or the gossip exchanged over a cup of coffee. We can be awfully hard on each other. In the name of our beliefs and views and our "right" to air them-- liberal or conservative-- we can be unkind and insensitive.
I admit I've not always had an easy time forming healthy friendships. I didn't use to be like this. When I was younger, I felt much more open and less guarded. Over the years, I've allowed a few life experiences to make me gun-shy and wary. Being a "pastor's wife" came with a fish bowl type lifestyle, replete with expectations. I think I've become a little more insecure, afraid that who I am isn't good enough. And I think, in part, I've not always done a good job choosing friends. There are probably a variety of reasons, but whatever the cause, the end result is somehow my skin was worn thin and I sometimes feel like I'm permanently flinching around people.
But it's time to change.
And this is the focus for my prayers and meditation this week: to be a better friend. Being guarded is a form of selfishness, keeping me from thinking beyond my own interests and concerns. It's time to quit chasing after relationships who don't want me as I am, or who don't have time for me. It's time to spend more time listening without judgment, laughing without inhibition, and loving, just because it feels good to love freely.
I am thankful for the lifelong friendships I do have-- the ones who haven't given up on me (waves at college pals). I am thankful for the coffee dates where nothing is required of me but to show up, chat, and enjoy. I am thankful for Facebook, which has allowed me to reconnect with wonderful people from my past, and meet amazing new friends. And I'm thankful for the friendships that have yet to blossom and help me age with humor, grace, and empathy.
How about you? Are you where you want to be with your friendships and relationships? Do you reach out readily or are you like me, more guarded and introverted? How could your relationships be a meditation for Lent this week?