Archive for the ‘women’s friendships’ Category

You’ve Got A Friend, A Spiritual Friend That Is…

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

We’re doing 5:30-6:00am Lenten Devotional meditation series at the church right now.

This morning’s devotional lesson talked about the importance of having and nurturing spiritual friendships.

We have different friendships for the different sides of our personalities. We have friends we go out with. We have friends we work out with. We have friends we keep up with online. We have friends we talk to about books. We have friends who knew us back in the day. We have friends we trust with certain secrets. But what the ancients called spiritual friends are different. Spiritual Friends are people who pay attention to the presence and movement of God in your life. Their friendship brings focus to your spiritual life. When you hear from them, their queries about how you’re doing come down to one thing, “How goes your soul? Is it well within? Are you any further along on your spiritual path?”

In a general way, all true friendships are spiritual in the sense that they involve our spiritual faculties — the emotions and the will. Obviously this is not what is meant by spiritual friendship in the ancients’ mind when they wrote about spiritual friendships. They called those friendships spiritual which are created, sustained and nurtured by the Holy Spirit. A friend is someone who helps me get by. But a spiritual friend is someone who goes deeper, and helps me get by to another place … a place closer to God. In all honesty, some seasons you don’t want to hear from your spiritual friend. But those are precisely the times when you need most to talk and share with your spiritual friend. It is when you don’t want to be around your spiritual friend is when you need to hear most from her. You know she will be honest. You depend upon her honesty. You know she sees.

In a spiritual friendship we share about our spiritual lives in a way that encourages each one’s growth in God. More importantly, it’s with a friend of your spirit that you feel comfortable enough to admit to feelings of spiritual emptiness, sadness, anger, or nothingness. And your spiritual friend listens without judgment. After all the key characteristic of a spiritual friend is her ability to engage in “holy listening.”

Those of us who are great talkers often make lousy listeners.

According to Kay Lindahl, founder of the Listening Center, “most of us spend about 45 % of our waking hours listening, yet we are distracted, preoccupied, or forgetful about 75 percent of that time. Marketing studies indicate that the average attention span for adult is 22 seconds. When someone has finished speaking, we remember about half of what we heard. Within a few hours we can recall only about 20%. The number of adults who have had training in listening skills is less than 5 % of our population. Most of us listen just enough to prepare for what we want to say in response. Lindahl concludes, “Deep listening is a forgotten art.”

Think of who might be a possible spiritual friend for you. If no one immediately comes to mind, ask God to help you find a person who can help you grow spiritually. Write down in a journal what you might want and need in a spiritual friendship. Write down what qualities you think are important in a spiritual friend.

And now comes the hard part. Make an honest appraisal of yourself. Ask yourself: Are I capable of being a good spiritual friend to someone else? Are there aspects of my self that might need to change before I can be an authentic friend to another person’s intimate journey with God?

Name 3-4 friends that help you connect with God? Can you name 2? How about 1?

Relationships 2.0: Virtual vs. Real Flesh-and-Blood Friends

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

Travelling a lot this week and don’t have time to sit to write a full length blogpost. Thought this would be a good time to take a survey.

Thought I’d raise a question about cyberfriends that was raised by a sister blogger on her blog. Are the friendships we strike up in cyberspace (Facebook, My Space, Twitter, blogs) on par with the real flesh-and-blood friendships we’ve made over the years? Are our virtual friends with whom we engage in long, heated, but friendly banter with for days, weeks, months, perhaps years on end — are these people real friends?

The question is prompted in part by a piece by James Taylor on cyberfriendships which appeared over on HuffingtonPost:

Of all the areas of life that computer and communications technology seems to be impacting the most is its influence on relationships. Mobile phones, texting, facebook, and Twitter are just a few of the ways in which relationships are being redefined, established, and maintained by technology. We have entered a new era of Relationships 2.0. Read More…

Personally, I don’t think virtual friends and flesh and blood friends are the same. But judging from comments by readers on other sites, there are lots of folks out there evidently who think differently.

Hear ye. Hear ye. Cyberfriendships are not real friendships. No offense loyal blog readers. I cherish hearing from you. I look forward to your comments. I appreciate the lively banter we enjoy here on the blog. But I wouldn’t know you from Adam if you came up to me here at the restaurant where I’m typing this right now. How can we be real friends? (Boy, oh boy, are my readership numbers going to plummet now. :))  How can you be  friends with someone you’ve never met? How do you trust a friendship that’s made in cyberspace? How can you trust what someone in cyberspace says about herself? You guessed it. No, I don’t believe in cyberdating. But that’s another topic.

I don’t mean to devalue relationships that have been struck up over the Internet. I’m sure there are some moving stories out there about love found on the Internet and about the support, inspiration, and comraderie struck up on the Internet. If friendship is all about love and support, then I guess it is possible to think of a cyberfriends as a real friend. But to call a relationship born in cyberspace and limited exclusively to the Internet sounds sad to me.

cyberrelationships

Call me old school, but friendship is friendship not because there’s a long history of support, confidances shared, and mutual admiration. A friendship is a friendship more importantly because it has withstood the test of time and misunderstandings, disagreements, bruised feelings, and make-ups.  Yep, there have been plenty of times here on this blog when folks have jumped in one another’s chest about comments made and have later come back on to explain themselves and kiss and make-up.  All of us know that mending a friendship in cyberspace can not compare with the awkwardness, the dread, and the pain of mending a “real” flesh-and-blood friendship. Facing a friend you’ve hurt or who hurt you, and slinging, snotting, and crying it out face to face as you try to work out where things went wrong, who’s to blame, and promise to do better—that’s the friendship we miss out on in cyberspace. Better yet, that’s the personal growth we miss out on when we lack real flesh-and-blood friends.

But that’s my opinion. Call me old school. A friend is not someone who signs off with emoticons to make herself appear more friendly than she really is. A friend is someone who was there to jump up and walk behind me to keep others from seeing the spot on the back of my skirt as I walked off.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

confetti

Yeah, it’s the big day. Think I’ll take a break from blogging by sitting on my screen porch, reading a novel, listening to some music, and sipping a tall glass of ice cold lemonade between naps.

It is enough today simply to be grateful. Grateful to God to be alive and to be at peace finally with myself. Grateful for family and friends. Grateful for a church family that lets me stand in the pulpit and ramble until I figure out something to say. Grateful for finding meaning in life and for talents that lend help in turning the world right side up.

Grateful that I woke up this morning ”clothed in my right mind” and with a reasonable portion of health and strength. Despite the many indiginities that come with aging, I am grateful to be able to say with Celie, “Dear God, I’m here.” 

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Psssst. Come closer. To those of you who remembered that today is my birthday and have been writing all week asking for gift suggestions so that you can express your gratitude for what this blog has meant to you. Here a few places where I shop online and would appreciate mightily a gift certificate: Amazon.com; Oyinhandmade natural hair products; Qhemet natural hair products; and my favorite kitchen store, Sur La Table. Gift certificates can be sent to my email address: sowithin@bellsouth.net.  If a gift certificate to your favorite blogger is not in your budget, then as those in the old church would say, “I ask those of you who know the words of prayer to pray my strength in the Lord. “

Something Within Beah

Friday, June 20th, 2008

A few years back a dear friend sent me a gift in the mail. It was a dvd documentary, BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS. Having grown up watching Beah Richards in film and on television, I knew I was in for a treat. Looking at Richards with her strong African features I’d always wondered how she survived in a place like Hollywood where  women are valued less for their talent and more for their camera friendly European beauty. I didn’t know how much the story of Beah Richards’ life would come to mean to me. The documentary saved my life. It arrived at just the right moment. The student was ready.

beag 

And then one day I lost it. That’s right. I laid the dvd down and couldn’t remember where I put it. You know how you lay something down and can’t recall for the life of you where you put it? For a a year, every time I thought about the dvd, I’d tear the house apart all over again looking for BEAH, but it was nowhere to be found. I grieved. I felt like the woman whom Jesus spoke of in Luke 15:8-10 who upon discovering she’s lost a coin that’s dear to her survival sweeps and searches her house from top to bottom until she finds it.

And then one day, this week in fact, it reappeared. As strangely as it disappeared, BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS reappeared. Just like that. Stuck there between some papers I’d rummaged through dozens of times. There must be a moral to this tale of losing and finding this dvd, I tell myself. There has to be. When I figure it out I’ll share it with you.

Right now I’m just happy to have found BEAH. If you don’t have a copy, get one. Every woman should have a copy of this documentary. It’s the story of a woman’s life, a thinking woman, a fierce woman, an unconventional woman, a woman who stared back with determination when the face across the desk looked up indifferently at her. And it’s the story of the young black woman who stumbled upon her story.

While working with Beah Richards on the film BELOVED,  LisaGay Hamilton was mesmerized by the older woman’s talent and inspired by her wisdom. Two years after completing BELOVED, Hamilton heard that Beah Richards was low sick (as they say in the south) and phoned to ask if she could visit. That one visit stretched out over a year and marked the beginning of life-saving relationship for both women and became the basis for this remarkable documentary. Over the next year (which would be the last year of Beah’s life), Richards shared with the young actress LisaGay Hamilton the insights and truths she’d gained during her celebrated, sometimes controversial career. The exclusive documentary BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS presents the hard-earned wisdom of this remarkable artist and activist, and explores the deep and tender relationship that developed between the two women.

BEAH: A BLACK WOMAN SPEAKS is the kind of movie you dress up for and watch along with your girlfriends. You’ll be talking into the night about the lessons of Beah Richards’ life.