I’m in Europe for the next two weeks, and a few dear friends have offered to stand in my space and share their thoughts on stuff and things. Today, I would like to introduce you to my friend Stephanie May of The Lipstick Gospel. She’s one of the most ambitions, sweet, magnanimous people you will ever meet. I can’t wait to share her words with you.
It’s that time in our lives when my friends and I are starting to pair up – less shitty relationships and heartbreaks, more love and mentions of the future.
One of my best friends is a smitten mess right now. She calls me every few days and, without greeting, launches into, “I’m in love, I’m in love and I don’t care who knows it!”
But I do know it! I know it because I feel it too and I’m so glad to share my giddiness with her. I’m so excited to compare notes and squeal about dates and ask the hard questions that we’re afraid nobody else would understand.
Sharing your relationship with your friends is the best – but also terrifying.
My boyfriend and I live in Georgia – half a country away from my closest friends. They’ve heard all about him, asking all the right questions as I tell them the details of our dates and first kiss over Skype.
But I realized that there’s a bit of franticness about the way I tell those stories. It’s almost like I’m building a case for him – wanting to show them all the reasons he’s fantastic, almost pleading for them to love him.
And they should love him.
In the tender moments when I cry, or the funny moments when he laughs at me, or when we tell each other hard truths, I can picture my friends – ecstatic and teary as they remember the windy path that led to this relationship – as they see how well he treats me and how he loves me just the way that they do.
But still – every time I talk to them, I feel like a PR agent or someone performing a sales pitch. “And he’s nice and he’s funny and he treats me really well – but we fight and challenge each other, so it’s not puppy love or anything.”
Who am I trying to convince?
Over New Years, I brought him home. And with my heart beating wildly, he met some of the most important people in my life.
I felt like a pageant mom for both sides as I wanted to shine them all up, smooth down her hair, straighten his shirt – hissing at all of them to smile.
I watched with trepidation as they interacted – making a joke or two and asking questions about hometowns and siblings.
Several times I’ve even orchestrated an awkward Q&A, as I couldn’t figure out another way for them to get to know his heart in a short weekend. “Ask him questions!” I’d insist. “Babe – tell them how we met!”
Right… because that’s how deep friendships are formed.
My biggest fear was that they were going to see a snippet of my boyfriend and that somehow it would be the wrong one. Or the opposite – that he would see them in a weird moment, or someone would be trying too hard, and all bets would be off. One wouldn’t like the other and I’d get caught in the middle.
I needed my people to love each other. I wanted each of them to see the other for the amazing love story that they are – a story of great, miraculous love, and the string of best-friend-soul-mates that made it all possible.
But something beautiful has happened – as it usually does with some time and a dash of maturity.
We’ve built trust –
Now we’re the biggest supporters of each other’s relationships, instead of looking for holes. We’ve let go of some of our over-protectiveness – trusting our best friends to make good decisions – stepping in as a support when needed.
My girlfriends love my boyfriend – not because they’re best friends (not yet anyway…), not because they’ve known him forever, and not because he tap-danced and made dinner and bought them flowers all at the same time.
They love him because I love him. And as they look at me, shining and full of the real kind of love, they can see that this time is different.
Something’s different about this one and they don’t need to know him to see that.
And he loves them. He loves them because he knows they’ve had such a profound impact on me. He loves them because he sees the joy that they bring me, and wants me to be filled with that love and joy always. He loves them because I love them.
And the best part is that we have time. With two camps of people that love me – one on either side – I get to sit in the middle knowing that over time and organically, the two will come together. And that in the meantime, they’ll love each other because they both love me.
The performance is over. The critics are satisfied. I’m safe, right in the middle.
Stephanie May is a world-traveling journalist who is in love with Jesus, with life and with all things beautiful. In July 2012, she returned from the World Race, an 11-month mission trip to 11 countries around the world (she blogged about it, too!). Currently, she is working for Adventures in Missions as a Storyteller. When she’s not traveling (and especially when she is), she’s writing for The Lipstick Gospel. You can follow her on Twitter at @LipstickGospel.