(This is a stock photo and not a picture of my friend and I. She would want you to know that.)
It wasn't always so smooth.
Yesterday I met an old friend for breakfast and at some point, as we always do, we savored the gratitude for such things. Early on in our friendship there was a K&W Cafeteria between our neighborhood, and our friendship was cemented over plates of eggs and cheese grits. But life moves on, as it always does. She moved to the other side of town. I moved to another town. That K&W closed.
Now, all of these years later we're not quite in the same town but close enough. And there's a K&W serving breakfast between us. So here we are again.
We've supported each other in dreams and walked with each other through a few nightmares. But such a grand friendship very early didn't get off the ground.
She and her family were new in our church, and being the sociable people they were they invited me, the Associate Minister, to their house for dinner. It was summertime, which I remember simply because they were so proud of their garden.
Especially the greens that they'd raised and which were now gracing the table.
They were so proud of those greens. And so eager to share them with me.
Here's the thing. I cannot eat greens. Not mustard. Not turnip. No greens no how.
My mother and I had legendary battles of wills over them growing up. She insisted that I take just one bite, but my mouth refused to swallow even that much. (Please save yourself the trouble of sending me your recipe for greens that you just know will convert me.)
Sitting down to the table I tried to figure the calculus of how severely they'd be offended. (They were really proud of those greens.) Grace came for me in the form of a sweet potato.
I found that with a deft and subtle bit of mixing I could coat the greens with sweet potato and swallow an acceptable portion of them. Danger averted.
We hit it off that night and the invited me back. It was still summer. They still had greens. They were still proud... Well, you know where I'm going with this.
There were no sweet potatoes to rescue me this time. My only option was to freely confess my sin. "I hope," I told them, "that our friendship isn't dependent upon me eating these greens. If so, I've really enjoyed it."
I didn't derail the friendship, of course. They were made of kinder stuff than that. For that, I am deeply grateful.
I thought about that yesterday, about how either one of us could have made a choice that would have deprived us of the grace of these friends. They could have been offended. I could have withdrawn out of shame.
You may laugh, but haven't you known of friendships that were ruined or abandoned for less? Someone gets offended. Someone's shame gets triggered. Nobody talks about what's really going on and it becomes easier just to block a person and move on.
Except in the end it's not easier. Good friends help lift us up. They bring laugher and chicken soup into our lives. They tell us, in the most loving way possible, when we are being complete dolts. They don't share all they know about us or even all the pictures they have of us. Sometimes they become our chosen family, woven with as fine a web of love as any family connection.
Some friendships become toxic and need to be laid by the wayside. But if your friendship isn't, think twice before you write it off over a bowl of greens.
One of the ways in which our relationships get turned sideways is when our shame gets triggered. Shame brings with it a host of assumed judgments, and it becomes easy to assume that our friends see us with those harshly critical eyes. Shame makes us wonder why they'd even WANT to be friends with us.
If you have that inner voice that shames you, that beat you up and will not let you forget any real or perceived mistake, there's help. For over ten years I've worked with clients helping them to get free from that voice, and now I've provided a guide for you to find that freedom for yourself.
Join me on the Journey to Good Enough, and take your life back from the lousy bully in your head.