Monday, July 23, 2012

Most of what I know about Friendship, I learned in Indonesia

A woman who Brad had med-evac-ed  into Tarakan on his MAF airplane had lost her baby at eight months of pregnancy. And I wanted to visit her in the hospital.

But it was pouring, had been pouring for days. The roads in parts of town were flooded, including the end of my road. So, I stuck to the main roads—the high roads in my compact car. So far so good.

But then…traffic slowed in front of me. Creeping along, I watched several motorcycles turn back. And then I saw it. Flooding waist deep that stretched for at least two city blocks. I looked around and realized I was the only little car in the lane attempting to drive through it.

And there seemed no way out. No turnarounds. No side roads. I would have to make a 180, illegal turn, facing the traffic jam on a narrow road. Or I’d have to plow my way through it, risking flooding my car and leaving me trapped in the water.

I was nervous, unsure, regretful. But…I knew I wasn’t alone.  I had friends in the car with me. Other MAF women had joined me on the trip to visit the lady in the hospital. They coached me away from the flood, watched for other cars, helped me squeeze through the stream of traffic. They reassured what I felt I needed to do. And then the next day, when it wasn’t raining, they ventured back out with me to go to the hospital.

Who knew that this girl who never really trusted friendships would move to the other side of the world to learn lessons that hit so close to home? Who knew that getting in over my head in this life would teach me how to weather the storms in my own heart? Who knew that a girl who lived as an outsider would learn to feel accepted in a world not her own?

I've written several posts about this journey of learning about friendship. On comparing... On my most important Friendship... On friendship as a calling... Here are a few more lessons I've learned along the way.

1. If you expect the worst in people, you just may get it.

Let’s face it. People fail. People let us down. And I’m not just talking about other people. I’m also talking about me. Before moving to Indonesia, I’d spent years living with my cynical list about friendship. But I’m learning that it doesn’t have to be that way. Failure can give way to forgiveness. Disappointment can turn into understanding. Expecting the worst can subside to looking for the best.

2. Close your mouth…then open it.

We rarely see the whole picture. We don’t see our friend’s rough night of sleep, or inner struggle with insecurity, or physical sickness or fatigue. So, when the cross word is spoken, or the misunderstanding occurs, it’s often better to close our mouths first. Then later, consider opening it to work through the struggle with humility and grace.

3. Love without expectation.

It's time for me to stop the record-keeping type of friendship. The type where we give and hope for what we need in return. Or the kind where we don't accept love because we don't want to be in debt. The kind where we resent that our friends can’t read our minds and tell us what we want to hear. The one where we befriend the people who we think have the most to offer us.

4. Let others help you, especially when you are at your worst.

I've spent years trying to be everyone's low-maintenance friend who gives more than she asks. Trying to keep the balance weighed in my favor so that I won't be any trouble, and therefore, won't be dropped. But the more I open up about the mess that I am, the more I give true friendship a chance to take root. The more I let others see that I'm in over my head, the greater opportunity for floods of true love to come flowing in.

What else have I learned since moving to Indonesia? Here's my post on "Most of what I know about Motherhood, I learned in Indonesia." Join me this month for more lessons learned from the other side of the world.

photo credit, sektordua

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