The Colors of Connection {+ Book Giveaway!}

Nov 3, 2014

For heaven sakes, this place could use some paint.

The hospital hallway stretched out ahead, long and sterile. Whoever thought gray and white appropriate colors for the sick and suffering clearly hadn’t thought the thing through. If I’d felt optimistic when I arrived, the oppressive aura sucked the good vibes right out of me.

As if the absence of color wasn’t bad enough, the only sound to keep us company as we followed the nurse to the surgery ward was the soft pad-pad-pad of my slip-on shoes. It seemed eery, that heavy silence, as if something unexpected waited for me up ahead.

It did.

We turned the last corner, only to be met by another long stretch of hallway. This time, however, a person occupied a chair at the opposite end.

Who…?

It took seconds for me to recognize the form of the other woman. The moment I did, I started running.

“You came!” I shouted, as we met in the middle of all that gray and white.

She threw both arms around me, laughed and shouted in return. “Of course I came! Who would miss this?!?!”

We jumped up and down, two women hugging and turning in circles like little girls.

“I take it you know each other?” The nurse smirked as she caught up to our ridiculousness. We were like sisters reunited after years of separation. Truth is we’d seen each other just the week before. But this was a hard day, surgery day. And she came. My friend. The one who prays mountain-moving prayers. The one whose laughter fills up my gray days with the colors of her life. And just like that, the aloneness and afraid-ness dissolved.

It’s been months since that day in the hospital hallway. Since then, I’ve thought a lot about relationships. Perhaps it’s the intensity of 2014, the way crises and celebrations have lined up one right after the other. I’ve needed to lean on people this year more than any other. Or perhaps it’s middle age, the way my older self now craves intimacy and closeness like air.

Regardless of the whys, one truth has become stark in its clarity: I’ve grown lazy at relationship. We all have. At times we do it well, no doubt. But I’m convinced we’ve lost our edge. In this world of constant, automated connectedness, we’ve forgotten that true connection takes work. We’ve become long, sterile hallways, lacking the colors and sounds of deeper relationship.

In her book Lean On Me: Finding Intentional, Vulnerable, and Consistent Community, author Anne Marie Miller says these simple words:

Lean On Me, by Anne Marie Miller

Lean On Me, by Anne Marie Miller

Like a friend showing up at the opposite end of a hospital hallway.

The hard fact is your hospital day is coming. Whether literal or figurative, you’re going to end up somewhere you never expected. And when you do, you’ll need someone sitting in the chair at the opposite end of the hallway, someone you can lean on. This is what it takes:

Commitment. It’s appalling how fickle we’ve become, how selfish. We’re so easily offended, so quick to throw up our hands and walk away. In a world of instant satisfaction, we want microwaveable relationships, the kind that give us what we want with little personal investment. It doesn’t work that way. Relationship takes effort, grace, and TIME. Proverbs 18:24 says, “One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” That’s the kind of friend I need, the kind of friend I want to be.

Vulnerability. Just reading the word jolts my heart. It’s risky, isn’t it? Sharing your most secret self, risking ridicule and rejection, perhaps even ending up alone? But intimacy can’t flourish without vulnerability. Like soil must receive the seed, the only way to experience the full bloom of relationship is to dare to open ourselves up. Not flippantly or foolishy, but wise vulnerability with those equally willing.

Need someone to lean on? Desperate for the warmth of color in this often gray-and-white life? Determine to be committed. Dare to be vulnerable. Stop settling for superficial, microwaveable relationships and instead nurture a garden of the lasting, leaning kind.

The kind that sprints down the hospital hallway to laugh and dance circles together.

Which is the most challenging for you: commitment or vulnerability? Why? 

[callout]BOOK GIVEAWAY: Today I’m giving away FOUR copies of Anne Marie Miller’s book, Lean On Me, two each to two different blog readers. The reason? I want you to read it with a friend, together. It might be the beginning of a more beautiful relationship. To enter, answer the above question in the comments. And then let us know who you hope to share the book with. The winner will be announced on Wednesday!

11/5/14 UPDATE: We have a winner—TWO of them! Congratulations to NINA BLEVINS and MICHELLE LYNN SENTERS on winning 2 copies of Anne Marie Miller’s Lean On Me! Enjoy reading with a friend, and make sure you circle back here and let us know how it goes. Three cheers for friendship! xoxo [/callout]

50 Comments

  1. Cheryl

    Vulnerability, hands down. I got burned badly by some “friends” in high school and I got in the habit of being superficial. Now it is a very hard habit to break, even though I want to so badly.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Oh, Cheryl. Ugh. I’ve been there. It’s not easy to open yourself back up when you’ve been hurt so deeply. The good news is you dared to share it right here. And that’s a good start. Well done.

      Reply
  2. Tracy L

    Great post. I need to remember the little things-caring for family and friends-must always be big on my to-do list. I think it’s hardest for me to be vulnerable. As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes when I reach out, I don’t know if the other person wants me to reach out to them. I guess I fear rejection. Once when praying about this very thing, I heard God whispers in my heart, “Kindness is never wrong.” I have clung to those words he gave me so long ago and try to use them to get past my fear of being vulnerable with others. And they have never steered me wrong. I would love to win this (these) books! 🙂

    Reply
  3. Lisa Evola

    my first reaction would be to say that it is commitment. Time is so short and so valuable these days. Too many things to do, not nearly enough time to do them all. Choosing and choosing well is the key. And this is where it gets sticky….who doesn’t want to choose fun, friendship, laughter? So I think our natural inclination would be to choose friends and time with them….so why don’t we. We make excuses that we have so many things going on, but in reality – it is still our choice. I’ve come to realize recently that, for me anyway, there is an underlying vulnerability in the act of all friendship endeavors. We are vulnerable to the things they think and the things they say. We fear rejection and the pain that it causes. So – does our fear of vulnerability cause our lack of commitment? hmmm – something to ponder.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Hmmmm … fascinating thought, Lisa! I can see how there could be a connection between the two. Pushing past the discomfort of vulnerability definitely requires a certain meausure of commitment.

      Reply
  4. Jenny Mosier

    Love this!!! Aren’t those friends of the most amazing variety?? Commitment is definitely my issue right now. I feel like I have no choice but to be vulnerable if I’m to speak truthfully. :-/ But the commitment is hard. I’d rather rest, which isn’t a bad thing, but that also means maybe I should reassess what I’m actually using my good energy on.

    I’d share the other book with my best buddy Sara M. She’s dragged me out of bed when I was curled up crying after not getting a job I wanted, and she cheered with me later when I did get a job I wanted! I celebrated with her when her surprise announcement of her pregnancy took place on my birthday, and had the honor of being at the hospital when that sweet boy went to meet Jesus too soon a few months later. But with three kids each, and both knee-deep in solving special needs issues on top of it, our commitment to creating that time tends to get pushed to the side.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I hear you about that whole “rest” thing. Sometimes I just don’t have the energy for relationship. 🙂 Which means I’m likely investing in the wrong places. I also wonder if we try to maintain too many relationships. Rather than diving deep with two or three friends, we try to maintain relationships with ten or twenty. It just isn’t realistic. Before the birth of the phone and internet, the only relationships we could develop were with those who lived in close proximity, a relatively small circle of people. I believe our access to the masses has actually made it more difficult for us to develop meaningful relationships with a few.

      Reply
  5. Nina Blevins

    Oh dear. And the tears are flowing.

    My husband and I moved from a large city 7 years ago to a tiny town one state down. Until w moved, we’d lived in one place our entire lives. I wasn’t prepared to find it so difficult to make new friends…not acquaintance (I have plenty of those), but the kind of friends you talk about. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to reach out to a woman for friendship and she’s been too busy or too comfortable in her own little circle of relationships to allow someone new in.

    It takes work to develop new friendships. I’ve prayed, I’ve poured out my heart to God, I’ve asked Him to send me just one friend who’s willing to connect with me and share her life with me, and vice versa. I’ve come to the conclusion that for now, in this season of life, Jesus wants to be my Best Friend so I rest in Him and I wait because I know He’s created us for earthly friendships, too.

    I’m so thankful for the friends I still have in Virginia. You can’t live 50 years in one place and not make the kind of friends that stand the test of time and distance. I may not get to see them as much as I’d like, but they are true gifts from God and gifts that I could never label with a price.

    Reply
    • Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

      Nina, my heart just hurt when I read your comment. I have been there, more than once. Hang in there, because I know Jesus cares about our loneliness. He has brought people into my life at unexpected times, but some times, just as you said, he waits until I draw closer to him. He’s got someone in store for you.

      Reply
      • Nina Blevins

        Thank you, Linda and Lily, for your sweet, uplifting words. I know I’m not alone and that’s such a wonderful encouragement. God is faithful to give us the desires of our hearts when we commit our ways to Him.

        Reply
    • Lily Kreitinger

      Nina, I very much get it, being in that situation right now. Will pray for you, for sure!

      Reply
  6. Nancy Zeiger

    Commitment is easier for me. It’s a decision of the body to show up & “do”. That’s mechanics for me & I do it well. (Cook a meal, be there for the surgery, etc.). But–vulnerability—that’s my soul. I have experienced the hurt that comes from intimacy & the true wealth of it. I choose it–but I choose it a little more wisely now.
    Thank you for forcing me to think!

    Reply
  7. Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

    This is a subject that inevitably comes up in my sister and my weekly phone “coffee klatches.” She, living two states away in Los Angeles, California, feels the smarting of loneliness. She is surrounded by over 3 million people, but friends are hard to come by for her.

    I live in a much smaller town, but there are still around 40,000 of us here. I noticed that as I got older, and whenever I moved, finding true friends was difficult. Everyone seemed to have established their own and the BFF’s were firmly rooted in their hearts. When I was in my twenties, women stopped by my house unannounced all the time. “Oh, I was just driving by and wanted to tell you something…” I did the same. In a big way I’m glad we don’t do that anymore. I feel too busy to want the constant interruptions to my day. But I think society has changed. We are much busier than we have ever been before.

    I have a close friend here. Fifteen years ago we met for the first time. She tapped my shoulder as I stood in the pew in front of her at church and when I turned around she asked if I wanted to get some coffee. The second time we met over lattes we discussed friendship and how hard it was. I asked her, “What if we determined we were going to be best friends…what would that look like?” We both through out suggestions. We’d remember each other’s birthday. We would call at least once a week. We would make time for each other. We’d know we could depend upon each other in the middle of the night if we needed to. By the end of the conversation we decided to make that happen. We did all but “pinky swear.” We kept that commitment. We do more than what was on that laundry list. And it has made my life richer.

    I think sometimes we think these kind of friendships will “just happen,” because two women are drawn to each other’s personality and naturally want to be with each other more than other people and it will happen organically. But this is the second time in my life (once twenty years ago when I lived in California) where a best friendship has happened because of intention. In both cases I would have never been naturally drawn to these women’s personalities. We are very different. But we made close friendship happen through commitment.

    Reply
    • Nina Blevins

      Linda, I love that you and your friend were intentional in building your friendship. My closest friend back home came to me because I prayed to God for her. I asked God to give me a prayer partner and an accountability partner and He put her name on my heart. She wasn’t someone I knew very well, but when I approached her and asked her to pray about it she immediately knew God’s hand was in it. Through our prayer times together we shared deep things of the heart and cultivated a very special friendship that included all kinds of wonderful times together. Even though she lives in another state, we’re still prayer partners and we see one another at least every 2 months. I can’t talk to her on the phone because I’m severely hearing impaired but thank goodness for email and Facebook so we can stay connected in between visits.

      Reply
      • Linda Lochridge Hoenigsberg

        That is a great story, Nina. I have a best friend in another state too. She and I met when I was 28 and now I am 63….still best friends!

        Reply
  8. Gwen Rutz

    Thanks for the reminder, Michelle. I’ve made a new friend this year. The kind that can be life-long. I want to nurture our relationship well and pay attention. I want to be the kind of friend I like to have.

    I’d have to say commitment. At times I get wrapped up in my own little world and get tunnel vision. I have to make a point to get out of my world and into others’. It’s always a blessing when I do.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I’ve succumbed to “tunnel vision,” too. It’s shocking how self-consumed I can be at times. I’m trying to get better about noticing it more quickly.

      Reply
  9. Jeff Randleman

    I find vulnerability to be difficult. As a minister, I feel that unrealistic pressure to have my life “in order” simply because it’s expected of me. I realize it’s unrealistic, but the problem lies in the other half of the relationship as much as it lies in my half. People look at me different as a minister. As a result, it is very difficult to develop deep solid friendships with others.

    The unexpected benefit from this though is that my family and I are so very close. My wife and I especially, since we have no one else to depend on. But she doesn’t experience this to the level that I have. She has a network of other moms, homeschoolers, who she is pretty close to.

    If I were looking for excuses, I could bring it on my upbringing, because I never saw deep, solid friendships modeled as a kid. I could blame it on my high school and college career, because there was so much work to do. I can blame it on my job as a minister, again because there is so much to be done. But the simple truth is, probably, deepest, fear. I’ve grown used to always having people only so close, and now it’s hard to know what to expect in a friendship.

    I have a lot of good relationships, but no really deep ones like you describe. And it’s a detriment to my personal life.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Jeff, your comments here are courageous and refreshingly honest. Thank you. You describe what so many of us in ministry experience. Not sure what the solution is, exactly. But I believe your transparency here is an incredible start.

      Reply
  10. Pamela M. Steiner

    Vulnerability is always the most difficult for me…I mean, who likes to put themselves “out there” just to get hurt? As a pastor’s wife (him now retired), I could tell you countless times that I allowed myself to become vulnerable to someone whom I thought I could trust, only to find out that pastor’s wives are a peculiar breed who should never let others, especially members of their church, know just how human they are. For some reason, people cannot seem to fathom the fact that pastors and their wives and children are just as fallible and human and prone to mistakes, sin, and craziness as the next person. No matter how spiritual the person may appear to be, they just cannot accept anything less than perfection in their clergy family. So, I had to choose my friends wisely…(outside of my church), and my friendships within the church were often very superficial…I am sad to say. That being said, I found that God always provided special people along the way to “be there” when I needed them most…and yes, sometimes they did come from within our church. They were God’s gifts to us…highly treasured.

    Reply
  11. Mary Woods

    Vulnerability is much harder. I thought I was a strong, independent women, wife, mother, Christian, nurse, that all changed a few months ago when my husband of 30 years died at the age of 57, very unexpectedly. He had what was considered a routine surgery, eleven hours later I am a widow. I am not a stranger to grief, my parents, sisters, even aunts and uncles all died years before my Greg. I was young then and believed their deaths made me prepared for anything. I was wrong. I have been shaken to my core. Greg and I have eight children, many adopted and the youngest three children all with significant mental and physical disabilities. I am 60 and a single mom, a widow. I’m lost, I’m sad, and now frail. Now feeling vulnerable I have learned strength is easier than weakness, faith is harder than unbelief, giving is easier than receiving, relying on others is harder than relying on self. Being Vulnerable is the hardest thing I have ever done.

    Reply
  12. Ginger - Just One of the Boys

    Vulnerability – for sure. I’m committed and loyal, almost to a fault, but past hurts make me feel guarded and I have a tendency to hide behind the walls I have built around my heart. I have learned recently how much sweeter it is to open up, share, and be vulnerable with close friends of the heart. Thank you for your beautiful post – it couldn’t have come at a better time!

    Reply
  13. Lily Kreitinger

    Definitely vulnerability. I have the “nurturing” tendency of wanting to comfort everyone and fix everyone else’s life and it’s REALLY hard for me to ask for help and admit that I don’t have it all together. In the past four years I’ve had a challenging time building friendships. Multiple relocations due to work circumstances have left us as a couple and as a family being always the outsiders. I have built the walls around me so I am able to push through life without having to count on other people. Someone told me recently that I am in the “waiting room” and that God has amazing plans for my life. In that quiet and sometimes lonely space, I have learned to become vulnerable with Him and accept that I need His grace and that I’m OK if He is my one best friend in this season of life.

    Reply
    • Nina Blevins

      Lily, I identify with your perspective completely! The “waiting room” is what I’ve so often called my “preparation season.” However it comes, waiting is hard, but waiting in faith sure has its rewards.

      Reply
  14. Kerith Stull

    Vulnerability, without any hesitation. As the mother of an 18yo daughter with special needs (cerebral palsy), I struggle to connect with others. Part of me wonders if they are ignoring me out of fear or some other uncomfortable feeling. Part of me wonders if I am doing some sort of self-banishment just to avoid those uncomfortable conversations and feelings when the differences between our children and lives becomes so obvious. I do have a few good friends. But, it took a lot of time and bravery to be vulnerable enough to open up and share the real me, as messy as my life can be!

    Reply
  15. Cindee Snider Re

    I’m in a little different position. I recognized the year my brother died that I wouldn’t have survived without my friends, without my aunt who drove out, walked quietly to wherever I was in the yard and set the largest iced tea she could find down beside me, hugged me gently, and drove away. She knew I didn’t have words. She didn’t either. But she showed up without fail every, single day that summer, never expecting anything. Just loving on me. Letting me know she loved me, she cared, and that she was there. Another friend had no words, but would come and sit, quietly holding my hand. It was enough. More than enough. Another friend shuttled my kids to and from activities for months. My friends breathed community and committed, vulnerable relationship that summer. And I have never been the same. A deep and powerful ache to connect with the Body was born in me, nurtured by loving hands and hearts, moments when the veil thinned and eternity shone through. This past year has been the hardest I’ve ever faced. We lost my mother-in-law in June, my husband left his company of 18 years in April, my youngest three were diagnosed with the same serious, long-term genetic disorder our son was diagnosed with 7 years ago, the son we medically withdrew him from college in February, my Dad has undergone a complete year of Leukine therapy, 14 days on, 14 days off, to fight systemic melanoma, and my best friend moved halfway across the country. It’s been quite a year. I spend four of every seven days with kids at Children’s Hospital, but I text, call and see my friends as often as possible, because none of us can do this life alone. We need each other as much as we need to breathe. We need those beautiful moments in hospital corridors, those late night texts, those unexpected cards — just because. Because that is Kingdom living. That is the GOOD stuff of life. Eternity piercing the long, gray corridors of this fallen, broken world. God’s love pouring through God’s people. Grace. Amazing grace.

    Reply
  16. Don Haflich

    I think the two go hand in hand if you’re talking about certain subjects. Marriage, for example, requires both vulnerability and commitment 100% of the time. I have found that at the intersection of the two the greatest freedom is found.

    Reply
  17. Niels

    That’s an easy question: vulnerability. It is easy to give, to give, to give. I reap huge rewards from being a giver. People love me for it.

    Until the moment comes when I need support. I have had plenty of those too. I just don’t know how to ask for it, and I don’t have a good way of accepting it when friends shove it in my face—they have to, otherwise I may not recognize it for what it is.

    So, when things are hard, I isolate. Not helpful, and, not respectful of my friends. They feel as if I am saying that they don’t have what it takes to support me from time to time and that makes our relationship uneven.

    Unequal friendship aren’t really friendships at all. That is my challenge. For sure.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Boy do I relate to this, Niels. Receiving help—and, heaven forbid, asking for it—makes me feel needy. And I hate feeling needy. 🙂 But you are absolutely right: there must be give and take in a relationship for it to grow and last.

      Reply
  18. Kellie

    Vulnerability because it is risky. But I would share this book and this journey with Tonya.

    Reply
  19. Brigitte

    Vulnerability is for me the hardest. I think because most of my life trusting my heart to someone was just not a safe thing to do. I found most often in my deepest sorrows no one really wanted to KNOW how I was. Thank God that he really wanted too, I may have not survived otherwise. I am most grateful for my sweet cousin Tiffy who has given me a safe place to fall and also will ask me the hard soul searching questions and yet her love for me is amazing. As good as friends as I was with her mother my aunt, I’ve been truly blessed to have as a friend, my cousin and a sister in Christ too.

    Reply
  20. Sue Braid

    Commitment is by far the most difficult for me. Even though I’m past mid-life, the fear is so deep that I venture out of the woods, only to retreat from relationships and groups fearing rejection. As a little girl I was sent to boarding school and it seems that part of my brain that told me I was unworthy to be kept at home still shoots me down after all this time. It’s hard work to absorb and act on the truth than now is not then.

    Reply
    • Sue

      Commitment is by far the most difficult for me. Even though I’m past mid-life, the fear is so deep that I venture out of the woods, only to retreat from relationships and groups fearing rejection. As a little girl I was sent to boarding school and it seems that part of my brain that told me I was unworthy to be kept at home still shoots me down after all this time. It’s hard work to absorb and act on the truth than now is not then.

      Reply
      • Michele Cushatt

        Painful experiences during our formative years can be so powerful, can’t they? Hard to overcome. And the only true way to move forward is by taking a risk. Positive, new experiences help help heal the brain of old, negative ones. But it’s risky…

        Reply
  21. Cheryl Mitchell

    Vulnerability!!! I’ve been a single mom to 2 boys for 15 years and learned that at the end of the day it’s me and no one else doing it, even when people always said they’d help. I learned to get tough and independent very quickly. I didn’t want to burden others by asking for anything…but I learned in the past years (I’m sure age and wisdom helped) that God didn’t make me to do it all. AND I learned great lessons and God has given me some AMAZING friendships that have softened me and allowed me to be vulnerable and not judged! It’s a daily decision to not have my pride in the way of being vulnerable.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Yes. True. It’s a daily decision to relinquish pride. Thanks, Cheryl.

      Reply
  22. Alice Arment

    Once again Michele you’ve been reading my “mind mail”! For me commitment and vulnerability go hand in hand. One isn’t any harder than the other. I have to commit to the friendship/relationship but I also have to be committed to being real which means vulnerable, with a filter of course. There are those few treasured, God breathed and birthed relationships, like the one I have with Amy, that you can be totally real, unfiltered and yet it takes a serious commitment to making it work, staying connected, etc. Neither one scares me anymore! Both are equally worthy of time and effort! Thanks for another good dose of truth!

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      You are wise, friend. Honored to learn from and with you.

      Reply
  23. Helen!

    I don’t think I have much trouble with the vulnerability portion, but commitment requires relinquishing my cherished time. I realize it’s an investment, not a spending of my time, but that’s where I’m weak. I let my time be stolen by things of lesser importance at the cost of the treasures of friendships God’s placed before me. But mostly, I’m too easily intimidated. Sometimes the ones I seek friendship with the most push me away, leaving me to feel like I’m not worth THEIR time and effort, and I pull back instead of forging forward with patience and persistence. Right now I long for a better friendship with my [adult] daughter. She lives within walking distance of my house, but I feel like she abides behind her own man-made walls of protection, shunning me, perhaps without even realizing it.

    Reply
  24. Susan Best

    This post was amazing! It made me think of the amazing friends I have been blessed with.

    Vulnerability is my biggest challenge. After experiencing multiple betrayals in relationships, I constructed many walls. My One Word this year is Risk and one of my intentions with my word is being honest about where I am emotionally – with myself and with others. I am excited about learning more about the authenticity that God is calling me to and how it will affect the relationships I have been blessed with.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      “…being honest about where I am emotionally—with myself and with others.” I love this, Susan. Takes such courage to tell the truth, especially when it would be easier to say what we think others want to hear. Good for you.

      Reply
  25. Natalie

    I would also have to say vulnerability! I’ve learned to live with a large wall around me to keep my heart safe. But I’m trying to learn how to drop those walls little by little.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I wonder if vulnerabilty is almost a practice? It takes several attempts and “successes” for us to start feeling a bit more confident the next time. I, for one, am glad you’ve allowed me in, friend.

      Reply
  26. Michelle Lynn Senters

    I held the phone close to my ear as she spoke. It was as close as I could get being hundreds of miles away. How desperately I wanted to hold her hand and give her the assurance she needed as she began this new adventure. Actually, I wanted to do something else…
    “Ask her,” my heart nudged like a child pulling on the hem of my skirt.
    “I shouldn’t have to ask.” I argued with myself. “I should know this.”
    “ASK.”
    In our 40 years of being sisters, I had never asked. We were best friends. We told each other everything. We grew up together, but I had never asked this.
    She continued to talk, unaware of the argument I was having with myself.
    “Nichole,” I interrupted. “Would you feel comfortable if I prayed for you? Over the phone? Right now?”
    “OF COURSE!” she responded. “I pray with people all the time. I’d love it if you prayed for me.”
    And so, I began to pray, feeling the Holy Spirit flow between our two phones. I prayed for wisdom and courage, for clarity and God’s will. I prayed over my dear sister, trying desperately to say all the things a big sister should. We were both crying by the time I was done.
    In 40 years, I had never prayed over my sister.
    I had prayed for her. But, we had never prayed together and I cried for the loss of time and for the hope of prayers to come.
    Sometimes, the people we have the hardest time being vulnerable with are those we are closest to. Our spiritual paths had diverged years ago. My sister remained Catholic and I had left to attend non-denominational Christian churches. I didn’t know if she prayed out loud with people. Why hadn’t I asked?
    My heart overflowed with joy and sorrow and connectedness and longing that afternoon.
    What is more… I learned in the same conversation that my father prayed for me regularly. My heart broke with tenderness and sadness. Why hadn’t I known?
    My encouragement to you today: Ask the question that tugs at your heart. Speak the things that are gnawing at your soul. Open yourself to true vulnerability. I can assure you, it is almost always a prompting of the Holy Spirit.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      Beautiful. And so very true. Thank you for sharing this with us, Michelle.

      Reply
  27. Wanda Simpson

    Commitment is becoming harder and harder. As I grow older, I know if I can maintain a couple of non-family reliable friendships I am blessed. A true friend goes the extra mile, gives til it hurts, lifting others up. I am that person. But at times I find myself keeping score. Remembering who was unwilling or unable to reciprocate in my times of need, and that hurts. It hurts to feel abandoned, but it also hurts to be offended. Understanding that having one or two close, committed friend is far more valuable than all of the social acquaintance accumulated online and in life is all I need. Have read Anne’s other books and can’t wait to read and share this one as well.

    Reply
  28. Jeanne Hultgren

    I’m going with vulnerability…it’s the stuff that tears are made of. I’m supposed to be the strong one, the one that fixes things, the one everyone else gets to call for the answer and lean on…only it has crushed me – all that leaning…so I am working to be vulnerable – to share those deep hidden parts and the result is – well, it hasn’t gone well so far. But I know God has a plan….so I’m sticking to it.

    Reply
    • Michele Cushatt

      I’ve tried too hard to be the “strong one” at times, too. A friend told me once that the only way for a relationship to grow is through mutual vulnerability. It has to go both ways, or the relationship can’t thrive. That’s helped me to understand the give-and-take dance in relationship a bit more.

      Reply
  29. Debi Schuhow

    Vulnerability.

    Reply
  30. Jill

    Michele, lovely post! Your experience sounds like one I had last year as I joined my dear friend for a week at Fred Hutchinson hospital in Seattle. The scenario was clearly not ideal, but the bond that was nurtured is something neither of us would want to take away.

    To answer your question, I would say vulnerability is harder for me.

    Praying for you! xo

    Reply

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