MidLife Joy Challenge #3: The Long Haul

The first two months of the MidLife Joy Challenge focused on throwing off, and letting go of the things that wrongly insnare us.  The next three challenges all have to do with relationships.  The April challenge is The Long Haul, let's look at who we are investing in as friends for the long haul - 10, 20, 40 years of our life.

Nearly 22 years ago the Lord gave me these ladies, my Miami Girls.

We spent the four years of college as rotating roommates, teammates, friends, and ultimately sisters.  We spent four years in the same college, doing the same things, and then we started to scatter - and I do mean scatter: geographically, spiritually, family dynamic wise, career wise... you name it we are a diverse bunch these days.  But we are in it for the long haul.  Do you have friends you are in it for the long haul with?

What does the long haul mean?  For us it has meant 6 marriages and a divorce, 13 kids and 3 miscarriages, 16 moves across three continents, religious conversions, cancer, and career changes.  The long haul has meant saying hard things out loud, and asking for forgiveness from one another. It has meant sacrificing money, and weekends to get together once a year (not always all of us - but we try). It means things have not always been rosey or fabulous.  The above picture was a girls weekend that was not all roses and sprinkles for me.  It was a hard season of big shifts happening within our group, and it made me face my insecurities, as well as some not awesome things in my own life.  

But that is what the long haul is about - creating friends who become your sisters.  The women who know your stuff and don't walk away.   These ladies KNOW MY STUFF! They can call BS quicker than anyone in my life because they can see through the veil of a smile and "I'm fine," that can so easily deceive an acquaintance or casual friend.  

In the world of Facebook where we all have 300+ "friends," and transient lives that move us across the country and world, it is easy to get our thinking wrong about what it means to be a friend for the long haul.  It means we are going to invest in 10, 20 or 40 years of friendship.  It means we will work through the painful pieces and still love one another.  It means we don't have to be in the same stage of life together, but can celebrate each other's stages.  It means picking up the phone and calling each other regularly.  It means putting a date and place on the calendar to get together - and then actually doing it.  It means choosing - actively choosing-  to have lived a life together.  

I have what I call my situational friends, and I love them too.  They are women with whom I am sharing this particular season of life.  I used to have a group of homeschool moms in Denver who met every month at my house for coffee.  What a life line they were to me during those days! I have moved now and no longer homeschool.  Those friendship naturally faded, not out of any ill intent but because their purpose was for a season - they were not meant to be long haul friends.  But to live a life of JOY I truly believe every women needs a few long haul friends. The women you can count on no matter what.  There is such JOY in knowing you are not alone.  

For this month's challenge, I challenge you to decide what friends you choose for the long haul. Make time to pick up the phone once a month and call them.  Make a plan to get together once in the next 12 months.  If you are reading this and thinking you do not have any long term friends - maybe you just have a string of women you have friended and then drifted away from, start praying that the Lord would show you who to invest in, and that He would strengthen and grow you so that you can be a long haul friend even when things get hard.  Just because you may be sitting at 40 years old without a long haul friend does not mean you need to sit at 60 years old without one.  Choose today to start becoming a long haul friend.  

Last weekend - celebrating 40 with four of my Miami Girls - We missed you Jenn! 
 I'd love to hear about your Long Haul Friends.  How do you stay connected?  Do you plan Girl's Weekends?  If so, tell us about your favorite one.