I originally wrote this for my friend Lydia's blog. (My first ever guest post). We have a busy week this week - so enjoy this old, but new to my blog post.
I remember when I was in high school and starting college I didn't think I'd be able to get together with all my friends at the same time. As a homeschooler I didn't have a clique that I belonged to or a large group of friends that all hung out together. Therefore, my friends were a smorgasbord of people. From the long haired, trench coat wearing guy I'd met while taking drivers education to my two preppy best friends that I spent most of my time with. From my converse wearing, 'Doors' fan girl friends, to my hilarious, fun loving 'Backstreet Boys' obsessed friend from church. None of my friends seemed to fit together. It didn't really matter at the time. Not being a huge "group" person and preferring more to spend time with people one-on-one, it worked well.
Shortly after my son was born I joined a local mom's group. A couple years in I was asked to be on the board. I nervously accepted. One of the things required of being a board member was to host one meeting during your year long term. When I found this out, I was mortified. There were 12 members on the board and I was the only one with a small house. At the time my husband and I had a rinky dink little trailer in a mobile home park. All these women had beautiful large homes with gorgeous kitchens, plush couches to sit on, and manicured lawns. I had couches that had been left in the home when we bought it, 1979 original carpet, and my single wide trailer. I ended up "hosting" at someone else's home in order to avoid the embarrassment I felt about the size and quality of our home.
I started to feel like I couldn't be friends with these women. I felt like my life was a contradiction of all of theirs. I assumed that they probably looked down on me for living in a single wide. I so badly wanted to fit in, but there was no way we were going to be able to buy a house any time soon.
Becoming a mom rocked my world as far as defining who I was. I suddenly became a lot of things I hadn't ever thought of before. I became a breastfeeder, a clother diaperer, an attachment parent, and a baby wearer. I wore these titles proudly around my neck and talked about them often because it made me feel really good to espouse my new baby oriented interests. "Here I am world! Look at all my awesome mom talents!"
When I was talking to other moms I would instantly perk up if someone shared one of my mommy interests. On the flip side, if I realized that our views were vastly different on any number of topics it would either deter me or quickly turn me off completely.
Somewhere along the line I had stopped accepting people who were different than me. If someone expressed an opinion that clashed with my convictions I figured we couldn't be good friends, or for that matter friends at all.
It got even worse than that. I started judging people based on what sorts of clothes they wore. If they dressed better than me, in my insecurity I told myself that they were superficial and cared too much about their appearance. If they dressed in clothes that I thought were trashy, I felt embarrassed to spend time with them. This is a really ugly thing to admit, but if I'm going to be honest it's true.
That is when situations started cropping up where I found myself in smaller groups of people who were not exactly what I considered "friend material". Uncomfortable conversations would come up, questions would be asked, opinions were expressed. I often felt like I didn't fit in. I felt like I was doing the wrong thing to devote time to these relationships. There were many times that I felt like quitting so that I didn't have to invest any more time in friendships that I didn't believe were going anywhere. That is when without warning I started to care about these people. When issues crept up and I needed someone to talk to, these friends that I didn't give proper credit to were some of the first people to support me. They were the ones who checked on me regularly to make sure that everything was ok. They were the ones to tell me it was ok when I'd had a hard day with my kids. They were the women who wrote me letters, called me, and brought me meals after having a baby.
In the midst of my judgement these women were loving on me regardless of our differences. They were being the hands and feet of Jesus while I was casting stones.
Being friends with someone doesn't have anything to do with how big their house is, what kind of car they drive, or whether they send their kids to public school, or homeschool their children. It doesn't matter if someone is introverted or boisterous, if they have one child or twelve, if they're liberal or conservative. It doesn't matter if they're a crunchy mom or if they never recycle one single thing their entire life. Some of my very best friends are people who I initially didn't think I had anything in common with; women I didn't want to give the time of day.
It is incredible how when you start to open up and allow people who are different in views and personality into your life how much you are taught. I've come to realize (and I'm certainly still learning), that the women who are the most different from me are the ones who stretch me the most. That is a very good thing. The tense feeling of stretching is not always comfortable, but the results of stretching on a regular basis are that you gain flexibility.
Today is Transparent Tuesday!
I invite you to link up and join me in an effort to cast aside the filters we use to depict our lives as always being perfect. We all have a story to tell. The best stories are those where ordinary people rise up and work through the tough situations, the unseemly moments, the mundane, and the unglamorous.
All you have to do to link up is:
1. Either merely post a picture that depicts something in an honest way (just for example it could be a dirty room, or a selfie with you without your makeup on). Write a small caption to go along with your picture. OR, instead of a picture you can write a post that gives an authentic glimpse of your life.
2. Copy the url for your post (not your site) in the link below.
3. Finally, last but not least copy the code for the Transparent Tuesday graphic and attach it to your post so that other people can come and see all the other posts for Transparent Tuesday. The more the graphic is shared, the more people will be able to participate!
Thanks for linking up! The graphic and link up are below: