bread and wine (a giveaway)

Monday, April 22, 2013

With the lingering smell of still-fresh paint, in the middle of a favorite restaurant, we sat for hours, this old friend and I. In some ways, the things we have in common are far fewer than they used to be, but something about growing up together binds in ways that don’t dissolve easily. It’s all life and marriage and kids with careful steps around the spiritual, food and wine and tears together.

I’ve spent a lot of time praying for friendship. The older you get, the harder it is to make friends. I’ve spent so many hours feeling lonely. One or two friends didn’t feel like enough to carry me through. I wondered if I would ever have the kind of friendships where you literally share your lives together. Morning coffee, afternoon iced teas, coming over at the drop of a hat – not because you’re asked, simply because you’re needed. That’s the kind of thing I wanted. Honesty over the dinner table, tears over Earl Grey.

“I've long wanted to be better at accepting help, better at admitting weakness, better at trusting that people love me not for what I can do but just because they do. It would have been lovely to learn those things on my own terms, when I wanted to, the way I wanted to. But we never grow until the pain level gets high enough. Being so sick for so long was a crash course, not one I would have chosen, not one I handled well, certainly.

It was a painful education, but one I needed, one that forced me to embrace the the risky but deeply beautiful belief that love isn’t something you prove or earn, but something you receive or allow, like a balm, like a benediction, even when you’re at your very worst.”
-Shauna Niequist

Every other week, I sit in a living room with several other mamas. While our babies play, we talk Jesus and parenting and living radical lives in the middle of the everyday. If I need prayer, I go there first. When one of us is down, the others circle round and fill in the gaps. We finish our morning around the table, coffee cake on paper plates, our babies eating together on the kitchen floor. I leave energized and refreshed every single time.

I have new friends, friends who share my adoptive mama’s heart, friends who know intimately this road our family is walking. I wouldn’t have made it through these past few years if not for those precious women, holding me up with an email, with a phone call, across the miles. There are things I can share with these ladies that no one else in the world truly comprehends. I’ve sat across the table from understanding hearts at delis and conferences, sometimes with food, always with coffee, never without a good dose of truth-telling and encouragement.

There are those things I can only share with my old friends too. The ones who remember my birthday no matter how old we get. The ones whose birthdays I remember even when I can’t always recall my own children’s dates of birth. There is no substitute for knowing and loving someone for years on end. We might not get to share meals very often anymore, but every time we speak I’m taken back to the cafeterias and kitchens where we spent our childhoods together.

And then there’s family. Dinner together most Sundays for those of who are close. Special nights planned together for the rest of us who live further away. I love to call my sisters ‘friends’, but the unexpected surprise was how much I also depend on my sisters-in-law. If I need something, they are the first calls I make. I am more honest with them than with anyone else in my life. I love that they know me and love me, and even more than that, they know and love my kids, flaws and all. Long after the food’s been cleared, we’re lingering over coffees and waters, laughing and philosophizing and putting off children’s naptimes for just a bit more time together.

I’ve recently realized that somehow in the midst of all my crying and complaining and loneliness of the past few years, I’ve found my footing. Sometimes my dreams and my plans of how I want things to be, even my ideas of who I want to be…so many of those things were stripped away. In what remains, I find that I am already becoming who I really wanted to be. Unexpectedly, the things I’ve really longed for in life, I mostly already have. It might not look like a next door neighbor sharing my morning coffee right now, but I have everything I need. Hearts woven together over bread and wine. Love over us like a benediction. Dinner might be over, but we’re all still sitting at the table together. Friends.

 

 

*This week, I’m giving away a copy of Shauna Niequist’s new book, Bread and Wine: a Love Letter to Life Around the Table. I truly love Shauna’s books and her writing on her blog. This isn’t a sponsored post or anything – I just accidentally pre-ordered the book twice. I was going to send it back, but after reading it, I desperately wanted to give it away to one of you. It’s Shauna’s best work by far. Beautiful writing, beautiful truth. To enter, just leave a comment below. If you like, share something from your own experience with friendship and life around the table. For an extra entry, follow this blog via email or RSS. (Leave an additional comment for that.) Giveaway ends Friday, April 26, at 10 pm.

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