Shadow Of Victory

Thursday, 30 July 2009

July 30th Is there a guide to friendship??

I wonder if there is a guide somewhere on how to make friends...and keep them and if so would it be any good to people. We cant work to a formula in the realm of friendships as we are all so different in our emotional make up and also in our life experiences.I think that's why friendships can be one of the more difficult areas in our lives and I am sure that you know many people who "don't speak " to one another for many and varied reasons.Unforgiveness and anger can destroy much of what is precious in our lives and when you come from a totally dysfunctional background the odds stacked against you are almost impossible to deal with.

I have a theory and if no-one in the arena of therapy or psychology has already coined the phrase maybe I can be famous for a new heading within the explanations of relationships.
The theory I have is called "the push /pull "of friendship....and I have over the years excelled at it,but be assured it isn't a healthy option and its one that has taken me decades to overcome. In the process I am more than confident that I have hurt some people and caused others some pain and perhaps I still engage in it subconsciously so if you recognise it and see me doing it ..please tell me...forgive me .....and help me to move on.

Growing up in the way I did with no healthy role models and no ability to learn from others I have had to make my own way in the minefields of building relationships. I am not going to go into the whole aspect of friendship within marriage as with Chris it is a different dynamic and altho some of the main characteristics of this theory have definitely evolved in our marriage I am going to focus more on woman-friends.

One thing I believe we all desire and need is acceptance and the freedom to be who we really are.For me....In the past I have entered into friendships with women with the belief that no-one would accept me as I really was and so straight away the foundation wouldn't have been built on honesty and truth.I used to "pull " people towards me by being extra friendly...extra caring...extra interested in their lives...extra available....all designed to influence women to like me but also to need me . For me with my warped thinking being needed was in itself of more value than being accepted if there was a child that needed babysitting...I was the person...if there was a chore that needed doing...I would volunteer ...perhaps you get my drift.Once I was needed and relied on for various reasons I would then be unable to fulfil all that I had promised so then began the "push " part of this confusing equation.I would begin to "push" people away as I would be unable to meet the expectation I had given .

Then would begin the cycle that we can all get caught up in...lets see if you can follow me through the confusion ...I would make a commitment then not want to fulfil it...the person would be upset with me and make some remark...I would then feel hurt by what they said and withdraw ..thus confirming that they didn't really love me. Keep following..... Then as I withdrew the other person in this equation would then also back off as they would think I was unreliable or even that I wasn't the friend they thought I was in the first place and this of course would again confirm that I was unlovable or acceptable .I have oversimplified this theory but perhaps you get the message...pulling people towards me and then pushing them away is all too often the story of many adults who have had the kind of dysfunctional childhood I had.Of course it is also often the case that the relationship is made even more painful if it is with someone who is also not functioning with good foundations...and this has happened to me several times as often those who are damaged enter into relationships with others who are damaged in similar ways.

If this happens then you get both halves of the equation engaging in the same "game" and damage to both sides is inevitable. I have had to enter into some very painful discussions with a couple of friends over recent years as I have begun to unravel the consequences of some of my actions within friendships.I am endeavouring to be as honest with friends now as I am able in the hope that what you see is what you get...or perhaps I should say ..what you see is who I am.I have been on a journey this last 3-4 years of discovery into who I am I got to be me and what it means to be me.Writing this blog is a way of me being able to continue the journey and continue to discover things about myself and about friendships. I think I have written somewhere in previous entries that I actually like myself and that I am quite a nice person.!! This may be a seemingly simple thing to say but believe me when I say that writing that last sentence would never have been possible a few years ago and it is a major step that will propel me into the future . Having had no self validation for 50 plus years and having to process this has been no mean feat and I thank God he has opened my eyes to see who I really am.

For many years I would search for as many friends as I could...almost a desperation to fill all the empty voids in my heart and soul and would fill my days and evenings with "doing stuff". Ask any of the folk who knew me 15-20 years ago and their impression of me would be that I had loads of friends ...I think "gregarious" is a word that could have been used to describe me.In reality I had lots of
" acquaintances " but hardly any friends and acquaintances can be kept at arms length which is where the push /pull usually kept them. The sad part of all this was that I deeply yearned for more...for depth and honesty and for friends who would love me ...whatever. I began to give more of myself to a small number of women friends and those of you who know the "lady in the pink hat " will understand me when I say that friends with this kind of heart and soul are few and far between. I have two other women friends who were knitted into my spirit over many years and altho neither of them live near me any more we continue to enjoy an honest and open friendship from afar and know they love and accept me as I am.I am indebted to several friends over the years who have been instrumental in bringing truth and healing into my life and who I still count as buddies even if we don't spend much time together.I am also blessed by the "new" friends who are beginning to enter into my life and I am hoping that they develop into strong and healthy friendships as time goes by..

I began this entry with the there a guide to friendships....I know the bible has much to say about relationships and I have learned much from Gods leading and loving.I am still wearing the L plates of friendship and still making mistakes but I am loving more than ever the joy of knowing the women in my life...having fun together...doing life together...spending time with one another...sharing families ...troubles....celebrations...and my prayer for you all is that you will have good friends to walk with you along life's journey.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

July 28th The Lady in the Pink Hat

Hi everyone...thought I would share this with you as it is very much on the subject of Friendship.


My eyes drift unseeing as my arms and legs follow their own pattern for this skill known as swimming…you can do it on auto pilot with no thought given to any rhythm or co-ordination.

I am warm and satisfied with life.
I was born for holidays in the sun.
I am easily pleased.

I am in no hurry and going nowhere with little occupying my thoughts and as I continue my lazy strokes I begin to gaze around the poolside at the flotsam and jetsam of humanity who share my space under the hot sun and endless blue sky. I have always enjoyed watching people and ascribing stories to their lives and the poolside has rich pickings for my unoccupied imagination.

Mr and Mrs Lilo….in their 40s laying on their Asda priced airbeds and floating their lives away.
The Bicycle Family….extremely get up and go with their teenage son.
Fred and His Missus….he the silent one and she manufacturing enough words for them both
The Dads and their Lads…..lovely to see the bonding going on
Mrs Widow and son….hhmmnnn….some unhealthy stuff going on there
Ms Single Parent and daughter….being a full time mum seems to be boring for her.
The Multi Generation Family….I am envious and covet a holiday with a daughter and grandchild
The Lady in the Pink Hat…here with another woman ….I guess they are friends

I begin to focus more on this lady in the pink hat to the exclusion of all the other poolside people and let my thoughts travel into her life and my swimming goes onto auto pilot as I visualise who she is and where she comes from and what her life is like.
Her hat is pink and newly exchanged for 5 Euros at a mountain top village which served the most delicious cappuccinos. It is almost a wedding hat but somehow she carries off the casual look so well that everyone must see it is a poolside hat…a sun hat…a hat for all seasons.! It was with great glee she realised that unknown forces were at work at the exact moment when she decided on the pink hat rather than the white hat. This amazing pink hat matches her swimming cossie exactly. Not just the colour but the flower on the rim of this pink hat is a replica of the flowers on her cossie how cool is that!

The lady in the pink hat is of mature years. I wouldn’t presume to call her an OAP..but let’s say that she has travelled a fair way along the three score years and ten highway of life.. I look beyond the pink hat and I can see that she has been married for decades and has grown children and several grandchildren. Under the pink hat I can tell that the lines and wrinkles she wears so well were formed through much laughter and some anxiety. The pink hat sits so well upon her wise head and I know with certainty that the words she speaks will carry with them the weight of wisdom and life experience. This lady in the pink hat is fiercely loyal and her ability to walk alongside her friends is legendary. The pink hat may fool some people into thinking she is frivolous and light but let me assure you she is solid and strong.

The lady in the pink hat meets my gaze as I continue to swim and she smiles at me as if to say “I know you “and I can hear her say “you okay?”. Always this lady in the pink hat is concerned about others and as I return the smile and she has already begun to speak to others as they pass by her sun bed. I stop awhile and listen as she asks each person what they have been doing and where they have been and everyone is drawn into conversation feeling special and attended to by the lady in the pink hat. She effortlessly enfolds young and old into her sphere of calm and genuine warmth including the small boy who is not only encouraged to dive and swim but is treated to an ice cream sundae by the lady in the pink hat.

I settle in the corner of the pool with my book and every now and then I glance over at the lady in the pink hat and again my thoughts drift past the written word in my book to the unwritten words of this woman’s life. I can see her eyes following the print of her own book moving slowly from one side of the page to the other and every now and then they glaze over and I can see her become still and as if in commune with God her head slides forward in imitation of sleep but I know she is far from napping. The pink hat stays firmly attached to her head even when gravity should have caught it and dribbled it forward on her face. The lady in the pink hat is outwardly at rest but inwardly I know she is hard at work praying and I can see this lady is not to be messed with even by the natural forces at work in this world.

As she rests I know that her thoughts will have travelled way beyond the pink hat and will be touching the highest heavens as she intercedes on behalf of her family and friends. I even begin to believe that I will be included in her prayers. The lady in the pink hat never gives up….never fails to believe…never stops to think it cant or wont be done here on earth as it is in heaven. Only a woman in a pink hat can have this blessed assurance that God will already be on the move to grant her pleading. For many years this woman in the pink hat has prayed and never given up and her faith still brings me to my own knees long after my voice has ceased to be heard.

I continue to ponder this lady in the pink hat and once again I seem to have a fresh insight into her life as I watch her begin again to read her book. She reads slow but sure and somehow the book on her lap turns into the bible and I see in the shadow of my mind the many hours she has laboured over the precious word of God. I can almost hear her speak to me and others in hymns and psalms and just as the water in this pool is enveloping me and lulling me into a deep sense of peace I know the lady in the pink hat does the same to folks back home in her other life. At times the lady in the pink hat will be like a stream of living water sent into the dry and thirsty desert of our lives to bring hope and encouragement to those who are in dire need of refreshment. The matching cossie she wears covers an ample bosom and I suspect she often bemoans her shape but I also know that when in need of two arms to hold me and hug me and re-assure me I would rather have the lady in the pink hat with all her ampleness to lean upon than risk being stabbed to death by some bony size zero.

I begin to feel slightly chilled and realise I am prune like after long minutes spent in the water and I cast one more glance at the lady in the pink hat. She has stilled for a moment and looks up into the endlessly blue sky as if searching for an answer and I am able to examine her at my leisure without fear of being caught staring . I look beyond the pink hat and I see heartache reflected in her eyes and I know without any contradiction that the pink hat is only a momentary respite for the cares and concerns she carries. As well as the fun and laughter …the loyalty and faith….the wisdom and strength…the ability to pray and intercede and the amazing heart and soul within this woman there is also an aching for the unanswered prayers and the ongoing hope she has for the future.

You may wonder how on earth I can “see” all this from a casual glance or a moment caught in time. or you may think I have a wild imagination….I confess that I have inside knowledge of this lady in the pink hat and although I have allowed you to know a little about her other life….the life she leads when not wearing her pink hat….my description of her doesn’t even begin to do her justice. This lady in the pink hat I am honoured to call my friend and for almost 25 years the lady in the pink hat has walked with me and talked with me. This lady in the pink hat has held my hand as I have struggled to stay on the path and she has passed me tissues as I have wept in the dark moments This lady in the pink hat has supported me through some tough times and she has served alongside me in many areas of church life. This lady in the pink hat has laughed with me till we have cried at so many shared jokes and life situations including laughing at me !. This lady in the pink hat and her family have been joined at the hip to me and mine and as we approach the autumn years my hope is that the pink hat becomes a symbol of friendship to reflect upon in times to come. This lady in the pink hat knows me through and through and yet still calls me her friend and has never judged me even when I have been outrageously in need of judgement. This lady in the pink hat has laughed at my jokes and has admonished me when I step over the line and I am more than blessed to have her in my life
My purpose in sharing this with you is not just to honour the lady in the pink hat but in the hope that you will also take a moment to think about your friends …they may not wear a pink hat but lets be so thankful for each and everyone of them….and find a way of telling them .
May each and every one of you have the blessing of a Lady in a Pink Hat in your lives.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

July 14th More Midnight Ramblings

I find myself once more unable to sleep....this time because I haven't been too well and have been sleeping for part of the day/evening and now find myself wide awake and way past bedtime.It is always in the dead of night that my thoughts can turn to lets see where this leads me to .

I have blogged part of my growing up and I think I have reached adult hood in my time line...I am not going to go into details at this point of the friendship I have with my man....he is first and foremost the friend who I turn to..lean on...share with..cry and laugh with but I feel it is more to women that I am writing this blog altho if you are a man reading this ...then read on.

For the first 10 -12 years of my adult life age 19-29...I was busy doing what a lot of folk do in that period...meeting husband to be...marriage..children...settling down etc and like most young couples with children our social life revolved round family/friends gatherings.We didn't have a particularly wide circle of friends but I can honestly say that apart from 1-2 of them we have very little contact with any of them all these years later. I do wonder if the quality of the relationships didn't go deep enough to survive more than the obligatory Christmas card.

When we moved to England I realised just how much I needed friends. I spent the first 6 months of our time down here crying....I was sooooo lonely....I didn't want to be here....I didn't want to stay here...I didn't want to smile and make small talk with people who talked as if they had marbles in their mouth and sometimes didn't understand what I said either. English people lived in a different dimension to us...I didn't possess a diary before I moved here...if I wanted to see a friend I just dropped door was kept on the latch so friends could just knock and walk in...sadly down had to ring first and make and appointment and no-one just knocked on my door and walked in.

I discovered I was pregnant with our third child and this changed my life....I had to get out and make friends...and the first person I made a tentative friendship with was also pregnant...and also a Christian..( I wasn't a Christian at this point)..She was a member of Bracknell Baptist Church.(which later became Bracknell Family Church and nowadays is called Kerith Community Church ) SP was my life changer...she showed me friendship that changed my whole way of thinking . For many years I had always thought that people couldn't be trusted..shouldn't be trusted...and therefor my relationships were always quite surface and shallow and usually unable to survive any stress or conflict.

SP introduced me to others in her circle and a new journey began for me .Altho still very homesick and struggling with pregnancy way of life..settling the other two children into school and nursery I found myself opening up and sharing myself with her. Perhaps it was the new beginning I had subconsciously yearned for..perhaps it was getting away from all the trauma of childhood and starting afresh in a completely new place where no-one knew me or Chris or our background. Perhaps I thought I could almost re-invent myself and be whoever I chose to be...whatever the reasons I began to settle and feel calmer inside..less homesick..less lonely.

Little did I know that SP and others were already storming heaven on my behalf ..praying for God to draw me close..praying for God to bless me....Praying for God to show me His son Jesus. I knew nothing of this till months later...all I do know is that there was a strange sense of peace and belonging taking root. For some months as we grew fatter with with our babies..we were both due in January and our families began to hang out for walks and play dates etc SP would talk about her church and her faith. I originally wondered if the friendship would fade if I didn't show any interest in her church /religion and this was the first thing I put to the test. I told her in no uncertain terms that I wasn't interested in God...knew little about Jesus and didn't have time for church..and then waited to see what she would do or say.

I think I have said before I have a tendency to be a people pleaser ...rather than risk rejection I can sometimes be a bit of a chameleon and change thoughts or opinions to suit the person or occasion..but I felt it was important to get this out in the open right at the beginning...if she wanted to be my friend it had to be for ME alone and not whether I would believe in her God or go to her church. I wasn't anti..just hadn't really bothered before and certainly didn't want to bother now.It made no difference to our friendship and it continued to grow as we both had our babies within 3 weeks of each other and life settled into routine. I now had a firm friend...our husbands got on well....the kids were similar ages and we could all have tea together or go for walks etc and we had babysitters if needed and life was moving us on.Into this mix we also met and made friends with another couple...and strangely(!)they too were Christians and went to same church as SP .Again unknown to me they too were knocking on the gates of heaven and praying ......I wont go into all the details of my salvation and what happened with Chris and I that was an amazing year for us all ...children too....but as this part of the blog is about "friendships" I will press on next time with more of this.

I wonder how you all are?...if life is treating you good? what your own thoughts on friendships are? My prayer is that as I continue to ramble and jot down my thoughts and feelings it will lend insight into life issues that you may also be struggling with and that perhaps together we can makes some sense of the mystery that goes into relationships .May the God of all comfort bless you and enrich each and everyone of you with good friends...friends who will ,,care and accept who you are in every way.