Friendship is more important than having it all together

I think we tend to live in a world of closed doors and garages that are shut and back decks and car rides from point a to point b and back to point a and living in a world that although seems socially connected is rather isolated.

It’s easy to stay hidden.

Behind layers of stuff and busyness and front yards with geraniums that are cultivated with Miracle Grow and cut lawns and hair that is done just right and cars that back up and do a courtesy wave and nods to our neighbors.

It sometimes is just this surface thing.

There’s this layer, this buffer of protection, of not letting people really into our lives. Life is messy, and yet, so often we live in a world of masks and facades and we’ve got it all togethers and if you’re like me sometimes you shut the door to your home, and in my case it’s my perfectly picked out rusty red painted door that matched perfectly with the dark coffee brown siding and white front porch, and we shut the curtains and we feel alone.

What happened to the community?

To the women rallying together?

To the neighbors who embraced each other in the journey and gathered together? A once a year block party on National Night Out, even though they’re fun, really doesn’t cultivate community. Even with the rows of noodle salads and chips and kids racing around on their bikes on a street blocked off. It’s a start, but community and friendship runs deeper than sharing hotdogs and burgers together.

Community begins when you and I decide that we’re going to be real.

To share with each other. To open our door to our neighbor and invite her in even if the living room is a mess. And then? Then we’re not going to apologize for the mess. Let me tell you that again – we’re not going to apologize for not having our lives perfectly together.

Do you know why?

When we apologize for real then we are in essence creating the need for the masks and layers and drive for perfection to remain.

When one is real and honest then it frees others to be real and honest.

When I cooked with the women in Haiti not one of them apologized to me for the stains on their skirts. No one said they were having a bad hair day. They didn’t tell me they were sorry that there was a metal thing on the floor that I tripped on. They didn’t apologize for the coal stoves or the smoke that hit my eyes when they added more coals. They welcomed me into their space as they were.

And I realized how much time I spend on things that in a way kept others from seeing the real me.

I don’t want to live that way.

I just wish I could figure out how to adopt the posture of realness from those beautiful Haitian friends of mine in a culture of closed doors. Do you know what I think? I think it starts with each of us. Individually.

When we decide that the friendship is more important than having it all together.

It’s not about venting or lamenting or wallowing in troubles.

It’s about admitting that life is hard or challenging or great or fabulous or boring or whatever it is and then loving our friends where they are and pushing each other to keep trying. Keep moving. We can do all those grand things we see on pinterest or have those geraniums and all of that – we just don’t need to do them so that we feel like we measure up. We can do those things because we enjoy doing those things.

And if we don’t? Or we really don’t care that our house isn’t perfect? Well that’s awesome too. You see there isn’t one right way to be. I like that. I love that the women in Haiti embraced their differences. That some didn’t want to cook certain dishes or that some did the laundry or that others teased me. They embraced the individual beauty of each person and still did community.

Community is powerful.

Needed.

Let’s reclaim it.

One open door after another after another.

~Rachel

Images and original content are sole property of Rachel Martin and may not be used, copied or transmitted without prior written consent.

8 Responses to “Friendship is more important than having it all together”

  1. July 9, 2013

    Hands Free Mama Reply

    I am celebrating this empowering message you have written — and lived — so beautifully, Rachel! When I began showing the “real” me to a close and trusted friend, she began showing me her “real” self. And that is when I realized this: when we show each other our scars, we love each other more. It has become my daily motto.

    I try and surround myself with those who will step into the light of realness with me–it’s messy and imperfect there, but at last, we laugh and love and live.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences in Haiti. You have given us all a gift. Bless you, friend.

  2. July 9, 2013

    Rachel Martin Reply

    Thank you, Rachel, for your sweet comment. I appreciate you as well and your beautiful commitment to mothering and living an intentional and joy filled life. You are right, community is so powerful and so needed and it happens when we each take a chance and surrender our pride just a bit.

    With great joy and blessings to you, my friend.

    Rachel

  3. Rachel, you’ve found something amazing. You truly have.

    I’ve commented before on my experiences as a homeless mother, and how it taught me true, complete gratitude – not being thankful for one thing while something else I don’t have nags at the back of my mind. True, honest, simp,le gratitude, for each moment, each person, each day I have food for my family…

    And you’ve hit on another incredible truth in today’s post. We all (or pretty much everyone I know) has been raised to try to present the perfect face, the perfect house, the perfectly clean and adorable children…. And we DO keep our doors closed.

    Something I’ve learned about living in the projects (especially being the only white family here, which I thought would make things harder) is that here, people are much more open. We’re all here because we’re poor. We all got here from a long, hard road, and we reached this spot as a level up from where we were, even though it’s JUST the projects. We all struggle. We all have a story, and we are all here because we need it.

    This gives us the freedom to drop our masks to a certain degree. There are no pretenses of perfection here. No one has the right clothes, or can afford expensive haircuts. (What I wouldn’t give for one of those!) We all struggle. Everyone living here has days where they’ve got no food for their children, no way to pay to have the laundry done in the laundromat, no way to transport themselves to a food bank.

    Our common struggles open doors between one another here.

    But your ideas on how to bring that kind of close community into our world of masks and decorations is right. You’ve gotta just start with you. Even here where I live, people aren’t trusting, people don’t lean on one another. But I give. I ask my neighbors if they need help when I see them struggle. I talk to them about their children and how glad I am they play with my daughter. I tell them if they ever need anything, to call me. And though they never do, it changes the way they look at me. I create some community.

    Lately, I’ve taken to setting up a ghetto water park for the kids here. All our houses have back doors facing a common playground, and on the lawn, I set out a huge, thick plastic tarp. I put a sprinkler and a slide on it, and it attracts about 25 kids every time. They all flock here. And the parents have all come to me to find out who had such a great idea. They’ve introduced themselves and thanked me.

    It’s all in the little things. Obviously, that wasn’t the idea of the century, but what I’ve given to the kids by doing it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

    Your posts have always been my favorites, but since you’ve been to Haiti, I just devour them. I love the things that have awakened in you, and I love that you’re a skilled writer, so that you can impart what’s truly in your heart. THIS is magic. Just radiate it.

  4. July 10, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    Love how touch so many hearts with your posts! You always do mine!
    What amazing words of comfort. Praying!
    Isaiah 40:28-31 Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard, that the everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary? there is no searching of his understanding. He giveth power to the faint; and to them that have no might he increaseth strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.
    My email address

  5. July 11, 2013

    Lynn Reply

    Stopping by quick! Gotta pick my daughter up at the airport! Haven’t seen her for too long!
    Praying right now!
    Isaiah 63:7-9: I will mention the lovingkindnesses of the LORD, and the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD hath bestowed on us, and the great goodness toward the house of Israel, which he hath bestowed on them according to his mercies, and according to the multitude of his lovingkindnesses. For he said, Surely they are my people, children that will not lie: so he was their Saviour. In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old.

  6. July 9, 2015

    Tiffany Reply

    I am thrilled that this popped up in Facebook’s look back today.

  7. May 18, 2016

    Missy Reply

    Beautiful post. I’ve recently stopped apologizing for the mess when friends stop by because I’ve realized that anyone who would judge me for having a messy living room is not someone I want in my home.

    I have 3 kids and no husband. Life is messy sometimes.

  8. November 19, 2017

    JS Reply

    A wonderful post!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.