Sculpting a Friend(ship)
by Jane Rubietta
A while back, I attended a women’s retreat with some mom friends — without children! There I asked my friends deliberate questions that focused on our hopes, heart and spiritual life. We all had enough kid talk and needed serious soul time. I returned from the retreat refreshed and challenged.
That weekend shifted our relationships. We still talked about our children, but also reclaimed the crucial adult focus of our pre-parenting friendship. Before we were moms, we were women. If we lose that core truth, we lose perspective and tilt off-balance.
For years, I thought friendships just happened. Now I realize the importance of shaping relationships, sculpting them into a structure of beauty that benefits both sides.
How does this happen?
Consider your needs. Once aware of them, you can begin to seek and shape relationships to meet those needs. As a newlywed and young mom, I needed role models for marriage, ministry and mothering. It took me until baby #3 to realize I needed creativity companions, intellectuals and funny women. So I put myself in places with these women, asking questions and taking risks. I invited women into my life, knowing I wanted to learn all I could from them.
Consider mutual friendship needs. This enables our friendship to be beneficial to both sides. When my friends, Pam and Renee, met they immediately liked one another, but neither had chatter time. They addressed their needs and boundaries up front. They each agreed: “I need a soul-friend. Someone to go deep with, who dares to ask me the hard questions.” At their infrequent get-togethers, they peer into one another’s heart without delay. Keeping our needs for our friendship in mind while preparing to see a friend helps sculpt our time together.
Consider your husband (if you’re married). My marriage destabilized with my postpartum depression. I thought I would die! And that I might take my husband and children down with me. One day, my husband challenged me with love in his eyes: “Who will be your support system?” His next words convicted me. “I love you. But I can't be everything to you.” He was right. A husband cannot function as lover, breadwinner, counselor, best friend, sole confidant, housekeeper, mentor, coach and pastor. It’s mathematically, physically and psychologically impossible. Sculpting other friendships takes the pressure off him and frees a wife to love her husband without demanding he meet her every need. We also bring a healthier, more loving self to our marriage. And we spend less time trying to control a husband,
Consider the function of friendships. We become better women, wives and mothers when we sculpt relationships with clarity and deliberation. But ultimately, relationships are not about changing others — chipping and manipulating until the other person deserves our stamp of approval. “I’m her friend so I can help her grow, or change or get sober.”
According to the Bible, good relationships are mutual: “iron sharpening iron.” (Proverbs 27:17) Through relationships, we become who we’re created to be. We can ask ourselves: “Who do I want to be today? A more loving woman? A better listener?”
The other side of the relationship equation is just as lovely. In stone work, the sculptor’s tool is a chisel. In relationships, our chisel is friendship. And our goal is, as Michelangelo so beautifully said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” Happy sculpting!
Jane Rubietta is an award-winning author and international speaker, who visits MOPS groups every chance she gets. Her latest book is Come Along: The Journey to a More Intimate Faith (WaterBrook, 2009). For more info, see www.JaneRubietta.com.