Got to be Real


Have you ever been walking through everyday life, surrounded by people all the time, and feeling like no one really knows you? You have thoughts, dreams, ideas, longings, and goals but no one to talk to about them. You talk to your spouse or significant other, and as supportive as they may be, you long for a girlfriend with whom you can be completely open and honest. Someone who will be totally honest with you and not just tell you what you want to hear.
I have found that in this new chapter of my life, friends, true friends are hard to find. When my children were babies and toddlers, and I was a stay at home mommy, I reached out to other mommy friends out of desperation. We had play dates, picnics, and activities at church to occupy our time and deepen our friendships. With several young children at home, those mommies were a life saver to me.
Now I am in a new phase of my life. My oldest daughter, Emily, just got married. My sons, Robert and Patrick, are both away in college. Our little grand finale, Carol Ann, is 13 years old, and becoming quite independent. The Lord is opening doors for me with my career, my book and speaking. Life is full in a dramatically different way than it was when my children were young. No more park or picnic outings. It’s volleyball games, weddings, and long financial discussions with my husband. And I am finding it harder than ever to develop true and deep friendships.
It takes time, patience and a willingness to open up to another person so that walls can come down and real life can be lived in authenticity and grace. Sometimes I walk into church on a Sunday morning to serve at the Welcome table, and I see so many people I know, but don’t really know. And they don’t know me. You know what I’m saying? Is it me who is holding me back from the friendships I long for? Is my ego and desire for others to think I have my life all together stopping me from letting my guard down? Am I allowing the busyness of my life to crowd out room for a sweet friendship? I don’t know what the reason is, but something is holding me back from the relationships that are possible.
As I am writing this reflection I am sitting in a beach restaurant overlooking the ocean on North Padre Island, and one of my favorite songs came on. There’s an 80’s song, one of the best dance songs of all times, called “Got to be Real” by Cheryl Lynn. And Cheryl says it all. We’ve got to be real if we want real and authentic relationships and friendships in our lives. At some point, I must let my guard down and share struggles, share fears, ask for prayer when life is tough. Because it IS tough at times. And don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.
So here is what I’m asking you to do. It’s the same thing I am asking myself to do. Think of a gal with whom you would like to be friends. Then take a step of faith. Call them or text them or next time you see them say, “I’ve been thinking about you. I love your smile and your heart and I would like to get to know you better. Could we meet for coffee or lunch sometime?” When we stop having a pity party, and drop our pride and just cross over the bridge to a new friendship, we will be amazed at the blessings that follow. Who knows, the friend you reached out to may be longing for your friendship too.

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