September 14, 2016

Go First

In the late afternoon, when I send the kids out to get the mail from the mailbox, they inevitably come back with a stack of bills and a pitiful look in their eyes. I can tell they've rifled through the mishmash of circulars, looking for their name on an address label--any address label--and, failing to find it, they ask for the millionth time, "Why don't I ever get mail?"
I think it's sort of funny. What are they expecting? A Toys R Us gift card magically appearing in the mailbox? A letter from a friend or classmate who is writing "just because"? A note from the President?

They see my name on everything and think I've won the mail lottery. I want to explain just what sort of "fun" mail I'm getting: the water bill, a notice from the DMV, and a catalog of things I'm not interested in. They aren't writing to wish me well or inquire about the state of my soul. They want my money; no, they demand it with due dates highlighted in bold and/or capital letters.

I hear my mother's voice echoing in my own words of response, repeating what she said to me when I had the same issue with our allotment of mail as a child: "If you want someone to write, you should consider writing them first."

It's the age-old solution, really, but it's also a mother's cliche and they don't want to hear as much as I didn't want to hear it as a child.

But it's true. 

The fact of the matter is that my kids just want to moan and complain for a millisecond and then run off to play. They don't really want to put any effort into writing a letter; they want someone else to do the work.

If my children truly wanted a letter in the mail, they'd sit down and write their grandmothers (100% guarantee return on time and stamp investment), a friend who's moved away, or even the President for that matter. Whatever they don't write guarantees they won't get a response.

It's simple actually, but every time I hear those words tumbling out of my mouth, I think about how the same principle applies to my adult friendships, and I sort of don't want to hear it from myself.

But it's true.

If I want someone to...


....then I should probably consider doing it first.

If you want to know the truth, I'm more like my kids than I'd like to admit. I like to moan and complain about what's lacking more than I really want to put any effort into relationships; I simply want someone else to do the work or to take the risk of going first.

Going first is risky, because it's true that initiation is not always appreciated or reciprocated. And it's also true that initiating isn't a sure-fire way to make a friend. But sitting and waiting and twiddling my thumbs?

Whatever I don't initiate guarantees I won't get a response.
If friendship is a topic you'd like to read more about in the coming months, you'll definitely want to stick around here with me. This fall, I'm dedicating my blog to writing about issues related to friendship and community. I also have plans in the works I'm excited to share about with you at a later date, all of which will lead up to the April launch of my book, Messy Beautiful Friendship. Follow along with me by subscribing to my blog and following me on Facebook and Instagram. I believe friendship is complex and difficult for most women yet also one of the greatest joys in life. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us as we explore together what godly friendship looks like!