jen hatmaker is my best friend

You know how we read the news online and gasp at the ridiculous things people do to either meet a celebrity or try to convince a celebrity that they are marriage material or whatever?  Psh, THOSE people are nuts.

I like nuts.  Pecans are my favorite.

I’m a special kind of nut in that I am pretty convinced that Jen Hatmaker and I would be excellent friends.  We’re both transparent, I’m hilarious and she’s not so bad herself, and we both love to write.  Now granted she has WAY more energy than I do and she could run circles around me in the ways that she gives and serves and just … DOES… but I think we would still make great friends.  Did I mention we both love to write?

photo from jenhatmaker.com
photo from jenhatmaker.com

She totally tweeted me yesterday…
(but only after I told her I would be traveling to her house to watch her new show since we don’t have cable)

And she’s coming to my church in Frisco, TX to see me…
(and about 749 other women who will just happen to be there as well)

I’ve read one of her books, and loved it…
(although she has written 9 others that I haven’t read)

And our hair is very similar – so there’s that.

I would love for you to come listen to her speak at Preston Trail on October 25th and 26th, but you should know that she will be VERY busy talking to me…
(from the stage and 749 other women will be rudely listening in on our private conversation)

You think I should buy us friendship rings or those cool heart pendants from the 80’s that say “Be Fri” and “st ends”?

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making the call to “that” friend

Why do we do that thing where we make an issue bigger than it really is?  Often times it isn’t even an issue but we don’t take the time to clarify someone else’s words and we go from harmless words floating in the air to panicking because there is an air raid and you’re being singled out.  You’re the only one taking shells!  RUN! HIDE!  GET IN YOUR FOX HOLE!

Or…
What if you just called your friend and asked for clarification.

GASP!

No Ann, you can’t possibly mean to face the issue head on could you?
Why yes, that’s exactly what I mean.  Hold on, let me finish rinsing the sand out of my teeth so I can share with you what I learned yesterday.

I’ve made this mistake too many times to count.  I had a conversation with a friend and walked away a little injured, then my mind went ahead and dropped the atomic bomb and made me think that friend didn’t care about me at all.  If I had a dollar for every friendship I have single-handedly ruined this way, I would quickly give it all away so no one would see how awful I have been.

Earlier this year I decided to change this way of catostrophasizing, but yesterday was my first real attempt at picking myself up from my face-plant in sand and setting my feet on the instructions that Jesus gave us.

23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.  Matthew 5:21

Since I gave up sacrificing animals for Lent (a bad, and probably inappropriate Catholic joke), I tend to think this looks more like when I am praying for peace, asking for God’s forgiveness, and asking for help to be obedient in His will — except that I am trying to step over the dead friendship I have created to get to God’s blessing.

You pretty much have to address the friends with whom you must reconcile. FIRST.

So I did.

I called “that” friend.  The one who said something to me early in the day and it messed with me all day long.  I said, “hey you know when you said this and that?  It hurt me and made me feel yucky.”

She was SO grateful that I called because as it turns out, she had only shared a teeny tiny snippet of the full story.  As I listened, I used my hazmat suit and gloves to clean up the chemical warfare carnage that I had created in my mind.

At the end of the call I felt SO much better.
And I also had more work do to… yup, more sand.

As it turns out, when you allow that atomic bomb to be built and to detonate in your mind, you create a World War II recreation in your own family by throwing up all over the people you love the most… and the cat would like for me to share this with you:

identity hidden to protect the innocent
identity hidden to protect the innocent

I had to go home and apologize to my husband for letting my chemical mess burn him, and I had to ask for his forgiveness.  He happens to be a pretty amazing guy who understood, forgave, and got the yard blower out to help clean up my sandy mess.

it’s a two-way street

What kinds of friends do you have?

  • I have friends who meet me at Starbucks and don’t care if I show up with wet hair and no makeup.
  • I have friends who tell me when it’s time to do my hair and put on makeup.
  • One of my friends lives in another country and we’ve only met face-to-face once.
  • A friend of mine has seen me, and aided me, during my absolute lowest points on my health journey, and she still loves me despite witnessing incredibly gross things.
  • Multiple friends just came and sat with me after a yucky surgery last year… just sat with me.
  • My husband and I have amazing friends who have moved to follow one of their dreams, yet we pick right back up where we left off every time we see them.
  • I am celebrating 25 years of friendship with one of my friends this Saturday, and she could probably still beat me in the original Super Mario Brothers.
  • One of my friends constantly reminds me to pray for myself. And there’s no sneaking by this friend, she is a Major Pain in the A…. Accountability department.  Which I happen to need.
  • I have a group of friends who would join me in singing the National Anthem in just about any elevator with no questions asked, then when the doors open they would proceed as though nothing happened.
  • I have a group of friends with whom I vacation twice a year for a weekend of sewing and crafting… and LAUGHING.
  • Ihaveafriendwhotextswithmelikethisandweboththinkit’shilarious. Andwearebothgrownups. Sorta.
  • I have friends who understand chronic illness because they too are suffering.
  • A friend of mine prayed for my salvation for YEARS, and I didn’t even know she was doing it!

What do all of these people have in common?  They are my friends because we encourage each other.

It’s a two-way street.
It’s give and take.
It’s grace.
It’s hugs.
It’s cards in the mail with stupid humor on them that make us laugh.
It’s patience and growth.
It’s forgiveness.
It’s tears and laughter.
It’s making mistakes.
It’s trips to the ER.
It’s a WHOLE lot of inside jokes.
It’s caring for each other’s children.
It’s illness and death, and new life and new loves.
It’s the excitement of new things and the comfort of the old things.
It’s praying together and urging each other to make wise decisions instead of running away when life gets tough.
It’s meals and coffee, cake and ice cream… and drinks from Sonic (rolling my eyes — you know who you are!)

Friendship is all of these things and more.

Are you struggling with your friendships?  I urge you to seek out what you can do to strengthen those relationships.  Is it time for forgiveness or confessions?  Is it time to pick up the slack because your friends are going through incredibly difficult times?  Is it time to ask for help because you feel like you’re drowning?

All relationships are built on honesty.  I have screwed that up many many times in the past because I was too proud to admit I was hurt or frustrated.  Don’t be that person.  It won’t work out well for you in the end.  I have lost friendships over my pride and a loss of words is no crutch to lean on.  It will crumble.

Pray about it.
Be honest and share your feelings.
Or stand up and pick up the slack because you adore your friends who are hurting.

What stumbling block do you see resurfacing again and again in your friendships?
What are you going to do about it?

one size does not fit all

In High School, I can remember joking with my teammates about “putting our big girl panties on” when getting dressed in sliding pants in 95 degree temperatures for softball practice. Basically we knew we would be miserably hot and sticky (and dirty) but we encouraged each other to just get through it because it was temporary (and secretly we sort of loved it). So “put your big girl panties on” basically meant, “come on, we can endure this for two hours!”

I have been conducting many interviews as I work on the manuscript for this book called, “Why Me?” and here is something I have concluded. When someone is going through something that is most likely a temporary pain, like losing a job or arguing with a spouse, those folks don’t seem to mind when a friend or loved one tries to motivate them to action by saying something similar to “put your big girl panties on.”

On the flip side, when people are experiencing chronic pain due to chronic illnesses, these folks tended to not appreciate the type of motivation that implied they were weak or making poor choices. Because for them, the pain is not likely to be temporary. When I was at my weakest point, if someone would have told me to “put my big girl panties on” I probably would’ve broken down and cried. I WAS wearing my big girl panties! That was all I had to give. One step was all I could muster to take.

Now I will tell you that I had a hard time deciphering the motivation behind the things people said to me when I was wandering aimlessly at my lowest point. I was confused with my lack of diagnosis, my extreme illness, the crazy mix of medications we had tried, keeping up with doctor appointments, and feeling extreme guilt due to all of the “regular” things I was unable to do. Oh yeah, and I felt like I had the most severe case of the flu I had ever had. So it didn’t help any that I was already a mess when someone would say something like, “Just get up and go to the store and quit complaining about it!”

Stop complaining? Yes, you’re probably right. I should have stopped complaining. AND (not but) there are really nice and helpful ways to suggest that. (Please take notes if someone you love suffers from chronic pain.)

  • I know your body hurts and I know you wish you could be active today. If you could accomplish one thing and feel good about it, what would it be? Are you able to do that without putting your body at risk for more illness/pain?
  • Gosh, you seem to be really stuck and frustrated today. Can I pray with you for God to help you find the silver lining, moment by moment if He has to?
  • I can’t even imagine how it feels to be in your skin right now, what one thing can I do for you today that would help you focus on the positive things you have going for you?

Just get up and go? Um, yeah. I would’ve done that already if I had been able to. I didn’t used to be someone who sat still for very long. Just ask my husband.

So my encouragement for today for those of you who suffer from a chronic illness, is that big girl panties are not all the same size. For you, getting through the shower could very well be your big girl panty hurdle of the day. And GOOD FOR YOU for pushing yourself as much as you know your body will allow. Stop looking at Facebook and counting how many friends are at the gym, running marathons in summer heat, or chasing their kids at the park. That isn’t going to help you. In fact, Facebook is probably the worst place for you to be hanging out right now. You aren’t going to find your self-worth there. The Bible is the absolutely BEST place and it will fill you up with hope and God’s love for you.

For those of you who think your big girl panties need to look like everyone else’s — let me tell you, they not only don’t need to, but they BETTER NOT look like everyone else’s. God didn’t design your body and mind to do the exact same things as other people’s.

You’re unique.
And that my friends is a GOOD thing.

One size does not fit all, and thank God it doesn’t!