Today I proudly marched into my son’s school with a bowl of Lunardi’s German potato salad – and I didn’t even transfer it out of the store-bought plastic bowl (gasp). However, when I signed up for this “International Potluck” luncheon last week, I drudgingly assumed I’d make something homemade in the midst of an extra busy week. I mean, it was our first potluck. There would be other moms there. And I’m SURE they’d be keeping tabs on who brought what. This sounds crazy because…well, because it is.
Luckily, there was some light shed on my potluck debacle and much bigger things this week at South Bay’s moms’ group, “Refresh.” Liz Ditty, a Bay Area native, shared and dared fellow mamas to be our true selves, free from comparison and pressure to meet others’ expectations. She talked about choosing connection over competition so we can thrive together through the mess of motherhood.
How to Make Good Friends: Honesty
Liz discussed how we are wired for connection. We want it. We need it. But it can only happen when we are willing to embrace who we really are – not who we thought we were before these beautiful babies rocked our world. What used to define us (what we did, what we had, and what people thought of us) drastically changes. New insecurities can emerge in the form of judging other moms and second-guessing our own parenting. It can leave us feeling pretty icky and empty.
But the good news is that being a mom presents a unique invitation to sift through all the junk and discover our true selves. To stop running in circles to try to impress each another. To tear down the facade of our polished, tidy lives. And to allow ourselves to truly be seen for the very first time.
We’ve all experienced the way comparison robs us of joy and fulfillment. So when we learn to stop comparing, everything changes for the better. We can focus on what we do have, not on what we don’t. And we can be fully present, honoring the sacred moments of friendship. Playdates become opportunities to welcome each other into our real, messy lives and connect about what’s going on in our hearts.
Liz talked about how true friendships emerge when we practice hospitality of the soul over hospitality of the home. I have a good friend who is the epitome of this and should be cloned for the betterment of motherhood. Every time I see her I am filled up. Not from delicious food or spending time in a pristine house (she’d be the first to tell you this is not her gig), but from the authenticity that is pouring out of her life. She is real about her struggles and she makes it a point to pull that out of me. I want to do the same for my friends. To be a person who inspires others to be more comfortable in their own skin. To focus on being, not doing. And in the midst of dirty hair and floors, provide a safe place free from judgment and expectations.
How to Build a Village: Love
One of the best ways we can offer support to one another is by choosing our words wisely. This doesn’t mean we should be paranoid about everything we say, but it does mean we speak truth with grace, acknowledging our tender spirits.
Liz called this our “love filters” and she pointed us to 1 Peter 4:8:
“Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
Wouldn’t it be nice to live in this space with all of our friends? Where we can let the little things go because we know they do the same for us. Where there is no condemnation for honesty about feelings of jealousy or bitterness. And where our brokenness can be healed because our relationships point us back to God, our perfect and very best friend.
The Ultimate Cure for Loneliness: Divine Relationship
The Bible is full of verses that tell us God is our friend. In John 15:13-16, Jesus says:
“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.”
Whether we’re Christians or not, God is inviting us to be His friends. He loves each of us like a mama loves her baby, and is longing to comfort us through the trials of motherhood. He wants to hear our parenting rants because He’s been waiting to provide the perfect advice. Spend time with Him. Talk about your deepest and darkest struggles. He already knows the real you and He wants you to LET IT SHINE.
Yes, it might be scary, but let’s decide to go first and open the doors to true friendships:
- Be your real self
- Love and let go of the little things
- Seek a relationship with God
Over the next week or so, consider completing these friendship dares and let us know how it goes. We want to congratulate each other on going first!
- Hospitality of the heart – Host a playdate, but don’t clean or prepare refreshments. Your gift of presence and real self is enough.
- Filter of love – Go through your communications over the past weeks (social media, texts, and emails) and reflect on if the content was loving and positive. Post or speak something encouraging, loving, or uplifting for three days in a row.
- Forgive – Search your heart for traces of resentment, because before you can move forward making new friendships, there may be old ones you need to speak into. Write a letter to the person who offended you telling them how you have been hurt and why you are choosing to forgive them instead of holding onto the anger. DO NOT send the letter! Either destroy it to give closure or keep it in a journal as a milestone of freedom.
- Be wise – As you speak to others this week, be conscious of your tender spirit and theirs. Build trust in new relationships by listening and loving, watching out for over-sharing or venting. If you are blessed to have a true friend who you can share your spirit with, carve out at least 15 minutes to nurture that friendship, asking what is on her heart. This should be done in a quiet space.
- Choose wisely – Think of a woman who you want to be more like. A friend or acquaintance who uses wisdom and love in her words and decision making. Invite her to spend time with you, but if scheduling does not work out, send her an encouraging note that points out the qualities of wisdom you see in her. On the flip side, is there a friend you may need to spend less time with? Consider what a new kind of friendship with less intimacy, proximity, and time investment could look like.
To listen to Liz Ditty’s full message, click here.
Please join us at Refresh every other Wednesday from 9:30-11:30 am. To sign up and get more info, click here.