Thursday, October 4, 2012

a rambling post in which I'm asking for the favor of friendship

Yesterday evening a friend texted me and asked what I was doing that night. I'm not sure what fun thing she was going to suggest because I had to text back, "Resting in bed. I have some sort of bug." (In retrospect, I think something I ate didn't agree with me, but still: no night out.)

This morning, Zoe girl woke up with a fever. She has the same cold that her brother and sister last week, but I thought she was over it on Monday. She's not. The playdate I was going to have with another friend today? Cancelled. 

It's days like this that I have to fight for joy.

I can handle being benched for an evening or a playdate, but I've been down this road before, and I'm a bit scared. My body broke after Jocelyn was born, with one autoimmune disorder and then another and then crop after crop of infections as we learned that some treatments made me dangerously susceptible to opportunistic illnesses. (Those treatments and I are no longer on speaking terms, so I'm mostly healthy nowadays.)

While the autoimmune disorders aren't going anywhere, I've figured out a nice combination of dietary, lifestyle, and pharmaceutical choices that make life pretty normal. Praise God! But from not long after Jocelyn's birth in 2007 until around Robbie's first birthday in 2010, I spent three years in daily pain. Those years are a blur. It's hard to recollect much when every movement of every minute of every day hurts for more than 1,000 consecutive days. I praise God for all He taught us in those indescribably difficult years (for example, this post and this one), but my heart grieves over them sometimes. While we've found a happy place with my health stuff, I haven't figured out how to mend the friendships the painful years stole away.

That's why I'm scared. 

It's hard to be friends with someone who is sick. Friends had to put up with cancelled plans and apologies and more cancelled plans and more apologies and... well, you get the picture. I can speculate at all the reasons, but the fact is that many friends gave up. Eventually, many people stopped making plans with us, and I was too scared of having to cancel again that I stopped too. Our friendship was too hard, for them and for me.

No one but Lee and God saw my lonely tears in those years.

As promised to Israel in the book of Joel, God has fulfilled the promise to "restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten." We have friends, some who rode out those tough years with us, some who we've met since, and some who we knew then but know much better and more sweetly now. But...

It can be hard to be friends with someone who has a child with special needs. I know this from stories shared with me by parents from our church's Access Ministry. I'm starting to see a bit of that. For starters, as we get started with multiple days of therapy each week for Zoe, I know playdates are going to be hard to come by. I am too tired by evening to want to go out most of the time, but with driving Jocelyn to and from school (which I cherish) and getting therapy time in for Zoe, I don't know where friends will fit. Sundays are full of church activities, and most of my friends seem to do family activities on Saturdays.

I fear that I'm starting another season of life in which friends will be lost. 

If we are, it is 5000% worth it. (Yes, 5000%. I never was keen on the rules of math.) Zoe is worth it. Adoption is worth it. Following God's call for our lives is worth it regardless of the cost, because He loved us first and considered us - vile sinners, though we were - to be worth suffering the cross.

But can I ask you a favor?

Would you try to ride through the stormy part with us? Would you be that community I admitted I needed in this post? Would you see through the second or fourth or eighth cancellation of plans and understand that I'm trying? Would you be willing to look past the smile on Sundays and wonder if that same smile is on my face during the lonely days in between? Would you get that I'm tired and might not be up to reaching out to you myself and extend sweet grace by picking up the phone or sending the email, even if I didn't reply to the last email or phone message?

Would you be my friend, even when it's not easy?

Thanks.


15 comments:

  1. Shannon - I feel your pain but under different circumstances. I wish I lived closer because I would be your friend (not that we aren't already :). I love you and will pray that at least one family will stick by you during these busy, trying times.
    ~Alissa

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    1. Oh, we thankfully do have more than one family sticking with us, but I would LOVE to have you closer! I'll be in Georgia sometime in the next year or so to visit friends and family and would LOVE to be friends with you in person. (Plus I hear that you know a good source of yummy 'que...) ;)

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    2. I would love to see you and your crew!! And yes, I do have a good source for some yummy 'que. Let me know when your headed this way - if you need a place to stay we have plenty of room!

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  2. For the record, it wasn't anything amazingly fun. I was in the area and was going to pop in and say hi to you all. Well, we are amazing and it would have been fun, but we can do it another time when you are feeling better. Let me know what nights are free for you, and if you have to cancel we'll just find another night to be amazingly fun together.

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    1. Oh, Angie, I know you're in it for the long haul with me. I'll let you know a night that works. If I don't get back to you, text or call or email... keep after me. I need precious friends like you.

      (And yes, if you were here, it would have been fun and amazing.)

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  3. If someone can't remain friends with you when your child or you are sick and dealing with difficult things, I can't see that they were a true friend to begin with.

    My son is borderline aspergers/adhd/sensory disorder and my daughter has a speech issue and goes through a lot of boo-boo bandaids. And my 8 lb dog is just a little this side of pyscho.

    I would totally be your friend, no matter what. Life comes with ups and down, and more downs, and ups. So does friendship.

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    1. Oh, thank you, Andrea! If only Seattle and Raleigh weren't so far away...

      In defense of friends I lost, I think when I was sick that I put on a strong front so that people didn't know what was truly going on. So when I cancelled on plans again and again or didn't show up to group outings, it seemed like I was the one flaking out on them. While some people did fall into the category of not being a true friend to begin with, others were just responding naturally to what they thought were my cues to cool off our friendship.

      That's why I posted this, because I want to be doing my part to let friends know this time that I'm not flaking out on them. I do want their friendship. I'm fine with losing the ones who aren't really true friends; I just don't want to alienate the ones who are and who want to be.

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  4. I will continue to live in your computer and be your friend from afar that way but I am always open to other forms of long distance communication if you want or need (and I am not just talking about chatting in scramble with friends)

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    1. Dude, Scramble With Friends is a marvelous outlet for me right now. I think I'll go play right now.

      (And thanks for the offer of living outside of my computer. The way you worded it - and the offer itself - made me smile.)

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  5. Through thick and thin, Shannie! I know times can be tough, but in the famous words of Charlie (mm pajama pants) in Center Stage: "Whatever you feel, just dance it!"

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    1. Those pants would still look better elsewhere...

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  6. Oh girl. Thank you for putting this into words. I am there right now with my kids' growing needs and appointments. And if I was physically there in NC we'd just have to beg to have therapy together and make a play date out of it!
    It is worth it, but that doesn't make it easy or less lonely.

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    1. Yes! I would love therapy playdates. :)

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