For the past couple months, my bedside table and audio book playlist has been crowded with Christianish non-fiction. Interrupted and Seven by Jen Hatmaker, Cold Tangerines, Bittersweet, and Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist, and Sparkly Green Earrings by Melanie Shankle.
I’ve never reviewed any of these books on Amazon, but if I did, here’s what I would say for all of them. “Wonderful book! Thought-provoking and funny. I really enjoyed it. Except for one part. I hate to read long chapters about the author’s friends. Can all of you stop doing that? I’m happy for you, but it’s just kind of boring to read love letters about people who are just a name in a book to me. Other than that, this book is delightful!”
I don’t know what it is about Christian non-fiction, but it seems like a pre-requisite to include a few chapters about, “I HAVE THE MOST AWESOME FRIENDS IN THE HISTORY OF FOREVER. WE HANG OUT ALL THE TIME LAUGHING AND PULLING PRANKS ON EACH OTHER. WE HAVE SIX ZILLION INSIDE JOKES THAT ONLY WE GET. IF I DIDN’T HAVE THESE AWESOME FRIENDS, I WOULD DIE.”
While I get that friends are important, it’s boring to read about someone else’s relationships,¬†kind of like it’s boring to hear about someone else’s dream or hear them talk incessantly about falling in love. All these are conversations that can’t help but alienate your audience.
Also, the friend-celebrating always sounds like bragging. Inevitably I read one of these chapters on a day when I’ve only had conversations with the dogs and Nate, my three-year-old. I want to read about someone else’s HILARIOUS GIRLS TRIP as much as a heavy woman wants to read about someone else’s “size 0 thighs!”
I want to read about someone else’s FUN BRUNCH WITH MIMOSAS AND SIX OF MY BEST FRIENDS! as much as a bankrupt girl wants to read about some stranger’s “$100,000 savings I forgot about!”
Clearly, these friendship stories pinch a sore nerve for me. Yes, I have wonderful friends, whom I love, but we’re not meeting for lunch every day or going to Italy together next weekend or texting each other every hour on the hour.
Stories of these other women doing all that stuff made me start to worry: was I missing something? According to conventional women wisdom, if three of my best friends are not crowded in my dressing room while I try on bathing suits, I am not fully experiencing the fun of female friendships.
Were they right? Along with the low buzz of loneliness, the whine of worry started in the back of my brain. Where were my friends? Do they still care about me, even during this blurry times of raising ALL THE KIDS? Were my friends just more introverted, more reserved? Is this why we weren’t gathering for raucous nights of margaritas? Should I try to fit that into my current life that is so far from raucous nights of margaritas?
Two nights ago, M brought in the mail. Because it’s 2013 and no one ever mails anything interesting, I only sifted through it out of boredom. Among the catalogs was a package from one of my closest friends, Shane. I could feel it was a book, not that surprising since my birthday is next week, and we often exchange books for our birthdays.
I tore open the package and opened to the page she had marked, the dedication page, and read, “For Tina, the most remarkable mom I know.” And “Thank you for all your support! Love you! Shane.”
Then, in one of the very weirdest moments of my life, I spontaneously started ugly crying. Hard, choking-gasping sobs took over my body in one second. Seriously. That sweet dedication instantly stopped the loneliness and worry whining in my brain, and I just released it with these huge sobs.
“Oh, yeah!” I remembered, with a jolt. “Friends love me. It’s okay. This is a busy season, but it too shall pass.”
The change was that instant. Shane’s sweet words, her dedication, snapped me out of my spiral of lies of “I’m doing life wrong! I am missing out!”
Nice ironic twist, right?
During my season of hating books filled with descriptions of wonderful friendships, it was a description of a wonderful friendship, in a book, that reminded me of love.
Thank You, Lord, and thank you, Shane.
(Also, the book is wonderful. Funny and exciting, and one of Shane’s best. It’s called True Spies, and you can order it here.)

 

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