Did you ever receive or write one of these in elementary school? They carried so much weight and anticipation. We placed hope in those notes, and cherished the friendships that formed. I’m blessed to still have several of those grade-school friends. What’s been fun with Facebook is reconnecting with other former classmates and forming new bonds. I’m even friends with the first boy who gave me an engagement ring. It was a real one . . . his mom’s. We were in kindergarten.
Friends. We had pinky swears and cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die secrets. We defended our buddies whether they were right or wrong. When we fought, the heat of the moment seemed to quickly dissipate. We were loyal.
Maybe we were just innocent. Or am I misremembering?
Over the past few months I’ve witnessed first-hand how people fear or threaten the severing of friendships due to the depth of differing political views. I’ve read FB posts by people questioning another’s sanity, morals, or integrity for supporting a candidate they’re against, and then question how they can continue being friends with such a person. There’s passion for candidates and issues on both sides, and I wonder if this passion has blinded us to why we once reached out and asked, ‘Will you be my friend?’
This post isn’t about politics. Really! It’s about friendships and not losing sight of those underlying passions that connect – travel, books, cooking, art, sports . . . I know being cooped up prevents us from sharing those interests as easily and often as we’d like, but those shared interests still exist. It saddens me to see the divisiveness that’s found a home in the absence of time spent together. I don’t know how we got to where we’re allowing political discord to take precedence over love for family and friends.
My heart broke recently as a young woman told me she’s afraid of losing relationship with people who’ve been part of her inner circle and creative family for years. Though I’m sure it’s not intentional, I imagine the comments and posts feel like personal barbs.
My sister called a while back needing to vent. (Which is always okay BTW!) She’d just finished a texting war with someone she’s been close to since college. They connect regularly and know each other as intimately as two friends can. Yet, when it comes to social justice and equality, and how to achieve them, their views couldn’t be further apart. Amid the recent police and BLM confrontations and protests, a conversation that began simply, ‘So how’s your morning?’ quickly escalated to ‘AAAUUGHHH!!’ and the brief fear this could break them.
I wonder how things might be different if we weren’t cooped up. Would talking in person over coffee, wine, or a couple of beers diffuse some of the emotion that’s tightly packed in a FB post or tweet? Would we see in body language that we’re getting close to a delicate place and know to pull back, out of love for our friend? Would even heated discussion eventually dissolve into laughter before we left the table, because a comment triggered a shared memory? By having these face-to-face conversations, what would we learn?
My sister is one who truly wants to learn and understand another viewpoint. She still may not agree, but she respects the different opinion. In the case with her friend, to both their credit, they’re having those conversations while remembering what they love in common.
Back in kindergarten when I took the ring home and showed my mom, she of course knew what it was. Since in our small Midwest town everyone pretty much knows everyone else, and at that time kids attended neighborhood schools, mom and I walked the several blocks to the little boy’s house. We returned the ring, and there was a conversation. Mom convinced his mom not to punish him, “He’s just a little boy.” My mom always saw the other side.
Shortly after I started working on this post, I learned Christian singer/songwriter Michael W. Smith had released a new video to one of his old songs, Conversation.
My hope is that we all start or continue conversations not only with our friends and family whose opinions differ from ours, but especially with those we’ve not reached out to and asked to be our friend.
Thank you for writing this. 💗
You are welcome. (I’d add a heart but don’t know how to do that! lol)
OMGoodness! How beautifully written, and so needed to read and hear your words. I’ve been very lazy with emails, so missed this. I couldn’t be happier for finding it again in my trail of unread messages.
Thank you, my friend!! Keep up the wonderful writing, and reaching out!!!
Yes, Kim. Thank you for reminding me to take a step back and listen.