In case you’re new to nelbell.com, I’m gonna come right out of the chute saying I have amazing friends. I’ve written about them before, probably more than once, because along with my family, these people make up my village. Life would absolutely not work without them. My friends, as varied and unique as they are, are some of the most beautiful blessings in my life.
Life is unpredictable and overwhelming right now. To say there’s a lot going on is an understatement. Because of this, I’ve been missing my friends. A lot. We’re staying in touch but we haven’t been able to see each other in person much. I finally got to see and hug one of my besties last week and I thought my heart was literally going to explode out of my chest! Turns out it just leaked out of my eyes a little. That hug was A-MAZING! Our conversation was so good and honest and whole, as always. I love her for this.
Getting to see her made me tell another friend how crappy it is that the circumstances that are preventing us from finding time to get together are the very reasons we need to get together. Because she is the remarkable person she is, she said, “I see an opportunity. Let me make it happen. And I want to bring you food.” I love her for this.
I love the friend who surprised us by hauling off our old fence a couple of weeks ago while my husband and I were at work. I love the friend who sends greeting cards just to let me know she’s in my corner and always has my back. I love the friends who have extended offers (with no expiration dates) to watch the kids. I love the friends who send my kids jokes and activities and trinkets. I love the friends who harass my kids, just a little, because they’re like aunts and uncles to them, or maybe more like big sisters and big brothers. I love the friends who are on standby to mow our lawn when we are needed elsewhere and simply run out of daylight hours to do it ourselves. I love all of my friends for holding me accountable and for supporting me in reaching my goals.
All of this gratitude lately for my friends showing up for me, often in the form of favors (many unclaimed), reminded me of something, which is really the point of this post:
Years ago while we were living through my son’s touch-and-go health crisis, a friend offered to do something for us. Now, I don’t even remember what that was. Maybe it was bringing us dinner or watching the kids or something, but it doesn’t matter. What does matter is the conversation we had where she looked me square in the eyes and told me to quit being a martyr and accept the help our friends and family were offering. She looked at me with gentleness but her voice was firm. She said I had been a blessing to people countless times when I was able and that was great. But it was time to allow others to be blessings to me/us. I remember sitting there in silence while I let that sink in for a minute. Finally, I slowly nodded my head in understanding and my heart opened in genuine acceptance. I had never heard something like this before. I was absolutely blown away. She told me to let my aunt clean our house, do our laundry, and wash my son’s enteral feeding supplies until our lives settled down again. She reassured me it was a beautiful act to let my friends bring us dinner and gift cards. She encouraged us to accept the financial assistance several family members were offering because our health insurance was so awful at the worst time. (Honestly, that was the hardest, ya’ll.) She told me to get over myself, to let people in, to let them help. Then she asked if she and her husband could pray over our son side-by-side with me and my husband. So we did, right there on our living room floor. I allowed and received all these blessings and basked in the love and support of our friends (and family). I soaked it up while expressing abundant gratitude. It truly was one of my life’s biggest lessons and a turning point for me. I learned that the mutual exchange of giving and receiving is what makes friendship work and what makes both sides feel valued. And that’s a beautiful thing.
While it’s true I have not claimed many of the offers my friends have extended, knowing they are there and that we are not alone is a wonderful feeling. We’re hanging on right now. We’re holding our own so we didn’t need anyone to mow our lawn last weekend. But we might this weekend or next or in a month. We don’t need anyone to make dinner for us this weekend, but I wouldn’t turn it away if someone showed up on my front porch with a pan of lasagna. We don’t need a sitter tonight, but knowing there are a number of people we could call in a pinch is a relief. Relying on the village is a way of life. This openness to receiving only feels good and acceptable because I know that friendships are a two-way street. When I’m able to do so, I will step up and show up and be a good friend to them.
My hope for all who are reading this is that you have found or will find your village and that you appreciate who’s in it. Soul connections between people who are not related or sexually attracted to each other are one of my favorite elements of living a wholehearted life. Love is love in every form and it really is what makes the world go ’round. I love you and I pray that you will both receive and be blessings.