With a Friend

With a friend…..

You can be yourself, but if you’re not she notices.

You can share the deepest parts of you.

Sad or mad or glad. It’s all the same to her because she loves you no matter what.

She knows your story and you know hers.

With her, it’s okay to not be okay.

She listens because she cares.

She’ll let you be scared but help you be brave.

Your laugh makes her laugh. Her tears break your heart.

It always feels like yesterday even when it’s been a while.

She makes you better because she lifts you up.

It’s easy with her because she loves you just the way you are, whenever you are.

And you do the same.

My friends have walked with me through the happiest and darkest of days.

A friend taught me to listen because I watched her listen.

One of them taught me how to give a good hug. Another how to make the best homemade bread you’ve ever tasted.

One taught me how to lead and follow, one how to forgive again and again.

And some have given me the confidence to do what I thought I could never do.

That’s what friends do.

I’m better because I have the best kind of friends.



Now that the house is mostly empty we can begin the work of renovating. We’ve never done this before so we’re learning as we go. I’ve learned how to pull up carpet and removed hundreds of staples from the subfloor. My favorite part is taking a crowbar to the tack strips along the sides of the rooms.

In one of the back bedrooms, my parents’ room when I was a girl, we found hardwood floors underneath the carpet.

I would love to restore them but half the floors have been drilled with screws every half inch across the entire length of the floor. We have one more room that may have fully restorable wood floors. We shall see.

What covered those beautiful hardwood floors in that back bedroom was the ugliest carpet I’ve ever seen. It may have been the trend at one time but I hope mauve carpeting never makes a comeback. Why would anyone want to cover those beautiful hardwood floors?

We do the same thing. With our hearts.

We are hurt in some way and without even thinking about it we put a layer of protection around our hearts. More hurt comes…….a criticism, a betrayal, or broken promises. Another layer of protection. Someone lies to us, leaves us out or ignores us. So another layer goes around our hearts. And another. And then another.

We don’t even realize how guarded we’ve become. Unable to receive the good because we’re always expecting the bad.

We guard ourselves from the very thing we need and want most.

Love. Authenticity. Real relationships.

The covering over our hearts….the one we cling to…..that we think will protect us from hurt….. also shields us from joy and love and true intimacy with others.

But what’s underneath can be beautiful if we will just be brave enough to peel away the layers.

And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart  

 Ezekiel 11:19 NLT

In response to Authentic.

Brilliant Disguise

I was with a group of ladies last week. We ate good food, shared stories, then sat down to do what we were there for. Learn together and connect. We’re doing a book study. But what always happens is way more than a book study. Relationships are formed, hearts are connected, and lives are shared.

In the beginning, we don’t share as freely. Our talk is more about the weather or our jobs. As we get to know one another we start telling stories of our families and friends. Eventually we are comfortable enough to share more. While we’re talking about the book one of us will share a related personal experience. Another one shares, then another.  At the end of the 8 to 12 week study we know each other on a deeper level.

Hopefully, we’ve let our guards down, taken off the mask, and quit pretending. We’ve connected.  That happens when we uncover the deep things of our hearts.

Still, we all have a mask……….a brilliant disguise that we’ve created for others to see. Sometimes it’s needed and serves us well.

When I interviewed for my current job, I pretended to be confident as I discussed the position and answered their questions. What the interviewers didn’t know:  I was intimidated and nervous. Nevertheless, I was offered the job. I believe my act of self-assurance helped me get it.

But we wear our disguises too often. We think we need them. We believe if others knew our past, our thoughts and quirks, odd habits and fixations, our tendencies and dark addictions that they would stop liking us, ignore us, or worse…..avoid us. However, genuine relationships require we reveal our true identity.

An intimate marriage can’t happen with a brilliant disguise; close friendships either. The facade affects our parenting and frustrates our children. Our kids, especially teenagers, want the real deal.

The disguise makes us unapproachable and guarded. We become judgmental because we forget who we are. The disguises, no matter how brilliant, may protect us from harm some of the time, but will hinder love all of the time.

But when I discard the disguise wonderful things happens. People connect with the authenticity and see something familiar. Some of our fears are lifted. I recognize that I am not the only one with that past or those thoughts. My strange ways aren’t so unusual and my weaknesses are quite common. We all feel less lonely which makes us more willing to take the mask off again.

Wear your mask for your next presentation at work. Take it off when your teenager asks if you’ve ever made a bad decision, when your friend calls to tell you some bad news, or you notice a co-worker with tears in her eyes. And try not to put it back on.

We’re more brilliant when we’re unmasked anyway.