The email had no content, just the words, Date Night, Friday? in the subject line. This was shorthand for, "let's do something on Friday after work, save this night for us, OK?"
There's something about having a friend wanting to spend time with you that is just plain kinda nice. Yes?
This whole topic of friendship has been popping up a fair bit lately. Have you noticed it too? Maybe it's just me. Yeah. It's prolly just me. The rest of you have fully functioning loving families that fulfill your need for conversation, social interaction and friendship. Regardless, I've got some thoughts. And this is where I dump them.
Are facebook friends (fbf) real friends? Are you on facebook? (I've got a poll set up, over there on the right. Do it, will ya?) I have 232 friends. Yay me. One of my fbf's has 1447 friends. (She's way prettier, that's why.) There was an interesting discussion about social media and friendships last Monday at The Kindlings, called Are We Amusing Ourselves to Death? If you have a spare hour, give it a listen. Then if you want to talk - send me a text, or a tweet, or page me. We can also IM on fb chat or skype if you live far away...
Some of the things I'd love to talk about in response to that podcast are:
1. How many friends is a reasonable number to 'maintain'? Jesus had 12 close friends. Which might mean something and it might not.
2. Does facebook dilute our definition of 'friend'? I think those of us on facebook know the difference between friend and acquaintance. We use the technology as a means of communicating and sharing photos and keeping in touch (in the olden days folks would've met up at the ol' watering hole in town to 'catch up' ... nowadays, we do that same sort of 'hi, what's new with you?' conversation on our walls.) One of the criticisms of facebook is that it is shallow and the relationships on it aren't real.
3. And along with that criticism is the notion that facebook contributes to the dumbing down of discourse so prevalent in those born in the '80's and later. Do our kids even know how to have a deep, meaningful, respectful conversation on a controversial subject? Or has this business of stating your opinion in your status (or your tweet) in 140 characters or less, cheapened the richness of real interaction of ideas? For example, Clint wrote a 13 word status update on his facebook page that was offensive to a certain segment of his 833 friendship base. He had posted it, minutes before him and I met for dinner. And all through the meal (it was a quick one - we were at Subway), his phone kept beeping, advising him of responses to his outrageous statement. This pleased my boy. It was a record-breaking status update for him: 54 responses. That in itself garnered a few comments.
"I've got a good discussion going," he said proudly.
"You've provided a forum for a bunch of opinionated alpha males to spout their thoughts," I replied, unimpressed. "This is not a respectful exchange of educated, well-thought-out responses... these are the angry outbursts of young males who need to shout their opinions, not caring if they are offensive or hurtful in the process."
Maybe it's a generational thing? Maybe it's a gender thing? He thinks he's providing a great service, offending people into action. I think he, well never mind what I think. Let's just say that even thought I love him deeply, he and I rarely agree on his facebook statuses.
4. And my final thought on facebook is that it is just a tool. And it can be used for good or evil. You can use it to encourage, educate, share, challenge, invite, and exhort. Or you can use it to offend, shock, belittle, hurt and slander. And it's not going away anytime soon. So you might as well get on board.
So yeah. That went way off course.
Clearly I need to talk to someone about that podcast. And friends. And parenting.
Do you have a few more minutes?
Pop over here and read this. It's a three-part story about friendship written by two friends-in-real-life who are also bloggers. The first part is written by Liz (from her perspective) and then it links to Ellie (who writes from her point of view). THAT is friendship, people.
It's about loving people even when they are unlovable.
It's about hanging in there and doing the hard work to keep the relationship going, when it would far easier to walk away.
It's about making a commitment to a relationship through the ugly messes that happen because we are all imperfect.
(And it's also about addictions. Which is another thing on my heart these days but that's another blog post.)
Did you read the comments on those posts? Did you see the last one? Where Allison says, I’m gonna get myself some friends. I want someone to call me on my stuff...
Is it that easy?
Is 'getting friends' just a decision that someone makes?
Shouldn't the statement be something like "I'm going to be someone's friend"?
One of the bloggers who commented on DaMomma's post is Heather from Vancouver and I took a peak at her blog this evening. On the side bar she has a pic of her husband and kids with the title above it describing them as "the people who know me best and love me anyways". My first thought was, how lucky for you. Really. How awesome. To know, really know, that your husband and kids love you unconditionally.
I was listening to an audio file of Dr. Larry Crabb on 100 Huntley Street last week and the interviewer said "I get a glimmer of God's love for me when I see how my spouse and children love me. It's unconditional. And it amazes me. They know my imperfections and it doesn't affect their love for me." And when I heard that, I thought to myself, "How lucky for him. How many of us can say our spouses love us like Jesus does?" And then, because I can be a little bit bitter on the topic of spouses walking out when their partners are unlovable, I had a 5 minute pity party at my desk.
True story: I was unlucky in love.
Another true story: It doesn't matter (much) anymore. I am rich in friendships.
Getting back to that audio link I was listening to at work last week (while I folded 2600 newsletters), Dr. Larry Crab was talking about Ruth and how that whole book is about 'relationships over advantage'. Do you have time to listen to it? It's inspiring. Well, it was for me. (It's only a 10 minute segment.) While I would love identify with Ruth, I think I am more like Naomi in this story... and instead of waiting for my own strong, handsome, wealthy, jean-wearing Marlboro-type-man like Boaz - I am waiting for that grandson to bounce on my knee.
But the point of their discussion is the need to prioritize relationships. Above all else (sex, money, a clean house, social security, travel opportunities, earning capacity, peer recognition, sporting victories, popularity, appearances, loneliness and so on) be faithful to those God has placed in your care.
Ruth could have left Naomi and likely would have married well in her home country. But she put the relationship she had with Naomi above the security she would have had and committed to staying by her side.
Boaz could have taken advantage of Ruth sexually, but instead valued a relationship with her above meeting any immediate physical urges and ended up marrying an amazing woman.
Do I do that? Do I prioritize relationships above rules? Above 'things'? Above privacy and a need to be alone? Above selfishness? Above pride? Above uncomfortable conversations?
Lately there seems to be a buzz around the word, "community"...
Sometimes I think 'community' is just a bigger way of saying 'friendship circle'.
Our longing for community is another way of saying we desire to be part of group of family and friends who have our backs. We want to be associated with people who prioritize relationships.Who love us when we're unlovable. Friends who hang in there when things stop smelling like freesia. Families who are committed to sticking together even when someone messes up.
A few weeks ago, just after Easter, we were talking at work about our favorite aspects of the long weekend we had just had. There was the usual 'favorite Easter hymns', 'inspiring hope-filled messages', 'ability to share the miracle of the resurrection with young children' type answers that you'd expect at a Christian ministry... but then Mark, a visiting guest from one of our partner organizations talked about the foot-washing service they had at their church. He spoke for like, 30 seconds, and all he said was, "foot washing is a community activity, isn't it? It's up to Jesus to wash our sins away, but the everyday grime of living, the messes we get involved in, the dirtiness of our comings and goings - well Jesus modeled for us how we are to minister to one another." We humbly kneel in front of our friends and ask if we can wash the filth away.
Jesus didn't direct them to a hose and say, clean off before you come in. He didn't pay a servant to do it. And He didn't pretend their feet weren't filthy.
Friday Night Dates.
And here we are, back were we started.
Talking about friends.
And how lucky I feel when one of them asks me to reserve a night so that we can just hang out together. I love 'dates' like this, but rarely initiate them. I always have a purpose to my friendship meetings. I have so much to learn.
So, anyWAY on Friday night, without a real plan, we hopped into my zippy new Escape and went on an adventure. We headed west and ended up in Stanley Park:
It was raining.
So that dampened our enthusiasm for walking around.
But we did anyways.
I'd never parked here before. Very pretty.
I'd like to go back on a less wet day.
and saw this:
Which turned out to be more graphic than we expected or were comfortable with. My friend thought the dog was adorable. I found Alex O'Loughlin to be wonderfully cute.
From there we stopped in at Langara College's Photo Exhibit were we were the oldest and poorest dressed attendees.
The signature at the bottom says TITI FREAK.
That should have been our first clue that we wouldn't understand the art work inside.
I liked the way this photographer hung his work. (Also wondered if he's related to the famous Jamie Delaney?)
And I wonder if Matt is from my mom's line of Neumann's?
There was a DJ and a bar and all I wanted to do was take a few photos to prove I was there, and leave.
Three things I'm thankful for:
1. Friends. Friday nights. Fords.
2. Pod Casts. Downloadable audio files.
3. Social Networking Media
PS Don't forget to vote on the poll.