Still the Sea

celebrating faith, beauty and wholeness

Still the Sea Blog

  • Who Are Your Best Friends?

    A new year is a good time to take stock.  What does my scale say?  What’s in my closet that shouldn’t be?  Did I really wear a cropped sweater last year?  What life patterns need changing?  What health and wellness measures to add?  They all goes to the same question I think…

    How best to edit our lives?

    Picking up on the concept of our life’s “story,” the word “edit” resonates with me.  So much is thrown at us in life.  It’s our job to pare it down to that worth pursuing.  To curate.

    Lately I’ve been taking stock of my friendships.  I work full time as a lawyer.  I have two small, sweet, but suuuuuper needy children.  (Thankfully they are funny, which takes the edge off the needy part.)  (Also I am crazy in love with them.)  I have a husband who – if you know him you’ll nod here – is wonderfully engaging and also fairly chatty.  I have a business, Still the Sea, on the side.  Busy times.

    But…I am also an extrovert, and I am female and absolutely built to connect and relate.  No matter how narrow the bandwidth, I’m always going to make the time to hang out with good friends.

    Social media has upped the ante for competitive people and social connections. Our contact lists are out there – they are public, and immediately quantifiable.  We begin to collect friends, business contacts, and even distant acquaintances, all within the same big web-friendly bundle.  Our concept of “inner circle” begins to fade.

    Given that free time is so limited in many of our lives, and given the flood of our “connections,” who end up being our very best friends? 

    There are some pretty icky ways to screen friends.  (1) Who can get your career the furthest. (2) Who is the prettiest / thinnest / richest/closest in proximity to Kim Kardashian.  (3) Who throws the best parties.  (4) Who belongs to the best [fill in the blank] club.  (5) Who is the most sophisticated and has the best business card.

    Maintaining close friendships with these criteria in mind can be…what’s the technical term…”life sucking.”  For you and for them.  (Also it’s just lame.)

    Friends are those whom you turn to when you need marriage help. When you are trying to discipline your kids without breaking their spirit.  When you are super scared/embarrassed/anxious about something and you need a sounding board and some compassion.  Friends will talk you out of plastic surgery you don’t need.  Friends will talk you into going for that promotion.  Friends will tell you (and quickly) if you have something in your nose.  Then they will hand you a Kleenex.  To me, friends are indispensable for sanity.

    My best friends are loving, fun, and creative.  Almost all are hysterical, several are brilliant, and each is, to a one, very deep and real.  Also, each of them feels very free to remind me when I’m getting…how shall I say…”off track.”  By off track, I do not mean “gained a few pounds,” I mean, “doing stupid stuff.”

    Have you ever heard of the term “hunting license”?  Tim Keller, pastor of New York City’s huge Redeemer Presbyterian Church, mentions the idea in several sermons.  A friend with a hunting license is one to whom you’ve said “please confront me when I’m being an idiot…or just plain lost.”  You allow them to keep you accountable. You allow them to guide you back home again.

    (Clearly any friends to whom you give such license will need to share your faith and belief system.  Or else they will warn you to run in a different direction than the one that fits with your conscience.)

    While back east in November, I had breakfast with one of my best friends, Jenn.  Over the last of our oatmeal at Le Pain Quotidien, she looks over at me expressively, eyebrows furrowed.  In  her Southern drawl – so wonderfully out of place in Connecticut – she said to me:

    “Um…hunting license?”

    I gulped.  I knew what that meant.  I nodded a tentative yes, scrunching my eyes closed as if that would ward off the bad news.

    Jenn said, with great compassion mind you, “I think you are trying way too hard to control things.  I think if you keep doing that – trying to plan too much in advance, to put everything in its place – I think you will miss out on some great things God has for you.  You’ve really got to lighten up.”

    She breathed a sigh of relief, said “I love you!” and took another sip of her latte.

    Do you know – I did feel so very loved!!   She was just sharing wisdom with me, out of love, to help me live a better story.

    Another best friend,  Lisa, is in (a) seminary, (b) a worship leader and (c) curses like a sailor, which only makes her more real and loveable to me.  I once bounced a very bad idea off her.  Her response:  “I love you, and I l look up to you, and that idea is ‘effing’ unacceptable.”  Her wisdom and the choice dropping of an f-bomb that day saved me from a WORLD of pain and hurt, as I avoided making an awful decision.

    Friends also save you from shame spirals, which can be just as important.  When confessing something to my dear friend Sarah the other day, she said “that’s great Liz!  You have an opportunity to deal with this now, and it’s a great time to focus on it!  It’s a gift!”  A thousand pounds lifted off of me.

    On that note, I’ve been thinking about my mentors.  In short, have one.  Or two or three.  Men or women who help steer you in the right direction.  (Shout out to Tricia Rhodes and Julia Hughes!!)  And be a mentor to someone (or two or three) too.  Pay it forward, right?

    The Bible says we become wise by walking with the wise.  For me that means a careful edit. How do you choose your best friends?  Have you given them a hunting license?  Would you be willing?

    1. Vicky says:

      Oh I love this! I find that as my list of “friends” expands and contracts- it’s face time invested that really sets my closest friends apart. My “go to girls”, though few, are the ones I’d drive an extra 10 miles to go to the Target near their house instead of my house so I can have a shopping buddy and have even a minimal amount of time together. They are the ones I send emails to entitled: “Be honest” and “I really blew it today” and they know exactly what to say. Most importantly, however, they will say the truth or the Truth because its what’s best for me. And that’s why I value them most.

      Thanks for the beautiful post!
      V

      • Liz says:

        Thanks Vicky! Great idea on the Target strategy….shall try that one… I owe a few people a few “Be honest” emails now that you mention it too.

        Just visited your blog…love the phrase “soundtrack filled with laughter and fun.” Aspiring!!

    2. Conor says:

      I love this, it’s so YOU and thus so wise. I love being married to you. :-)

    3. Tia says:

      What a great reminder to be thankful for those people who really have taken the time to know me and put up with me. I have an amazing best friend but unfortunately we live way too many miles apart. So it takes a little more creativity to be the best friend I want to be, but it’s been a adventure with her alongside. She’s made my life story all the more better! Right now she’s going thru a difficult season and I hope she sees me as the friend she can lean on, even when it’s difficult to be that vulnerable.

      • Liz says:

        Tia, we’ve always been bicoastal, our family, so I’ve always had a few dear, dear friends 3,000 miles away. Creativity is key, you are so right – and just staying committed to the friendship transcends most obstacles. Great that you are willing to be there for her!!

    4. Sara says:

      You know when you read something, and shy smile when you realize you’re nodding to yourself and mumbling, “that’s exactly it!” I lost a friend this year. The kind of friend you thought would be around for a long time…but instead of letting it dictate all my other friendships, I’m digging in hard to the ones that matter. Quality really is better than quantity and in this New Year my close couple of friends have made a vow–to be real–with each other. To admit to ugly crying and rough days, and refusing to answer the dreaded “how are you?” with anything other than the truth. Sometimes the people we lose have to make more room for the people who become our net, who trap us and love us, and refuse to let go, even when our ideas suck.

      Thanks for this post, Brene Brown had it right, sometimes all we need to hear is we’re not alone.

      • Liz says:

        Brene Brown…so brilliant that sister. And yes, I’ve been reading a bunch lately about how we’re made as women in particular. Made to relate – created with the skill of connection. it’s in our DNA as women. And it’s a powerful gift, as well as tendency… True connections. Even when our ideas suck. :-)

    5. Haley says:

      Liz, found your blog earlier this month. Your words, girl, your words speak to me! I loved this post about friends, it hit “home” in the best of ways. The sweetest, most kind way of reminding me as I look at friendship, that I am in need of some evaluation. Not in a guilt inducing way, but in a way that is truthful. With a hubbby whom I adore spending oodlees of time with, a 2 1/2 year old activity director daughter, and me being a total extrovert, I so related to what you said. Thank you for sharing your heart, thank you. Your store, your blog, its just beautiful. xo

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>