Here’s an interview that ran in Woman Alive previously from when I chatted with two great friends – Deborah Duncan and Cathy LeFeuvre, who bonded during the morning commute. Their friendship inspired a fictionalized account of two friends who become a life line to each other. Life Lines is published by Authentic Media.
During our journeys to work together, we talked about not only the day-to-day stuff, but we also began to chat about things that had happened in the past. We laughed – a lot – about some of the ridiculous things that had occurred in both our lives. We started a private blog where we shared more stories and became more creative, making up stories as well. Suddenly, we found we had 20,000 words, some fantastically funny anecdotes which also had some kernels of depth, and we had created these two fictional friends – Louise and Esther. We had the foundation for our book.
Although many of the stories were birthed in our imagination, some are based on reality. Believe it or not, the very first story in the book – where Esther writes to Louise about the previous evening’s most hideous ‘Christian Singles Night’ is based on a real evening, with lots of embellishments, of course.
And there is another story in the book where Louise attends a church event (not at her church) and attempts to get one of the leaders to talk to a woman who obviously wants to know more about the Gospel. When she approaches a male leader to ask if he will speak to the woman, he looks at Louise and says ‘You’re a woman…!’ Implying that he, as a man, is ill equipped to talk to a female about Jesus. That, unfortunately and bizarrely, is also based on a true incident.
A key to a really great friendship is shared experiences and often shared values. Even if you’re separated by geography, it’s important to keep in touch. That’s why sometimes, even if we haven’t seen our great friends for a while, we just pick up where we left off.
Women talk. That’s a reality! We talk to each other about lots of things that are happening to us, and we share confidences and troubles, fears and joys. Sometimes there are things that women can only share with other women, without being misconstrued or misunderstood. It doesn’t mean we don’t share with the men in our lives, but most women will recognize the importance of female friends. Louise and Esther are two such friends!
Admittedly some of their confidences are rather over-egged and exaggerated for literary effect, but at the heart of Life Lines is the truth that when one has a friend or friends with whom you can truly share, some of the bad stuff we encounter in life doesn’t appear so awful after all.
Being a good friend involves accountability. Sometimes it’s only your closest friends who can tell you just how irrationally you may be behaving. In Life Lines, when Louise begins to behave irrationally over the matter of some fair trade chocolate eggs, it’s up to Esther to tell her just how mad her behaviour is, but in such a way that Lou doesn’t fly off the handle but sees just how hilariously weird she has become.
They say a problem shared is a problem halved – well that’s true. In the case of Esther and Louise (and Debbie and Cathy) a problem laughed over also helps a great deal. Sharing things that happen to us helps to put situations into perspective; it helps us to see the big picture outside of the small hurts and gossip that unfortunately pervades even in church. And when wonderful things happen, it’s fantastic to have someone with whom to celebrate.
True friendship is not a competition. Some friends may feel possessive, which can be difficult. At times, friendship is one sided, with one friend having to do all the hard work. If we’re losing friends, then maybe we’re the one who always expects our friends to contact us.
Being a friend means being sensitive to the needs of others. In Life Lines there’s the story of Sue who asks Esther if she can borrow her unused wedding dress – unused because Esther has just been dumped! That (fictional) story, and others, reveals how best not to do friendship, and how not to become so obsessed with your own world that you forget that others around you are hurting. That blinkered type of friendship, when it is all about you and not the other person, is probably not a friendship at all.
Social media can help us be a better friend – by staying in touch. It’s very easy to send messages and have conversations that way. But remember, no amount of social media status updates can replace face to face meetings. Or phone calls where we hear each other’s voices.
Even though one of us is married and the other is not, we have so much in common. It’s great to have a friend whom we can unburden to at times, and encouragement is a very important part of our friendship. Laughter is often the way we handle this – seeing the funny side of a situation sometimes is a great help. We also pray together, which is fantastic encouragement. For we’re both Christian women seeking to find God’s will for our lives.
Of course, being married and being a mother brings a whole host of responsibilities and being a single also has its challenges but ultimately we believe God has a purpose for each one of us outside of our personal relationships or status. God does not define us by our marital status, even if church and the world sometimes does. We try to encourage each other to be the person God wants us to be … for ourselves.
Ultimately, true friends will remain close – no matter what is happening in their lives!