"Oh my, it has started.", is what I texted to a friend a few weeks ago.
It has officially begun. One of our boys, here a few weeks before his 12th birthday, is very suddenly interested in girls. Say it ain't so! I had a very, very, very strange experience with Preston this last weekend. I'm certainly not saying it was a bad one....just strange....and new.
I never thought I'd say this, but the Xbox has been really good for the boys since we moved. (Just don't tell them I said the Xbox was good for them.....I will deny it!) I guess it's much like facebook has been for me.....we don't feel quite so far and disconnected from everyone with the help of technology. They can talk to and play games with their cousins and close buddies back in Tennessee. They also have a text feature on their iPods now that allows them to message each other. Now, on the Xbox, they can play anyone who sends them a "friend request", as long as we approve and enter the parental code to accept the request. So, now they can play their California friends, Tennessee cousins and friends, and friends of their cousins and friends... all at the same time. So, their Tennessee friends and their California friends are, in a round about way, getting to know each other a little and they are getting to know their friends. Which, with proper supervision, is really cool. See where I'm going with this though?
So far they've only asked to" friend" one girl who is a newer friend of one of their long time buddies. I thought it would be fine but was surprised that they cared to add a girl they didn't even know. Silly me.
To make a long story short, I'm in the garage doing laundry and Preston brings me his iPod because he doesn't have a lot of experience texting and wanted to recover a conversation he accidentally deleted. I saw more than he had planned on me seeing though. As I scanned over it....I think my mouth may have flown open. Oh, it was all very innocent....I just couldn't believe he was talking to a girl and talking to his friends ABOUT a girl. Talk about uncharted territory for this mama. My response shocked Preston. Honestly, it shocked me. My restraint must've been the Holy Spirit on me is all I can say. I simply showed him a couple of things about his message feature and even showed him how to add her to his contact list. Oh, he got a brief...."I wasn't born yesterday and I expect you to be a gentleman" speech. But, that was the extent of our short, and might I add....earth shaking, interaction. He went back inside with a funny grin on his face. As I walked by his room a few minutes later, he looked up and grinned again. I said, "what?!" Preston said, "nothing....I just figured you would freak out." I kept my cool and told him it was part of life, nothing to freak out over. But, boy was I freaking out on the inside...."What just happened??? He likes girls now??? His friends are fixing him up with girls??? And through this maze of technology that has always scared me anyway?!"
What do I do? I pick up my phone and text one of MY friends! Kim, who you've probably heard me mention before in previous blogs, is a mom of 4 with ages ranging from 5-16 years old and her oldest son is a close friend with the boys, too. In fact, his birthday is just 4 days after theirs. So, we've had many conversations over the years on raising these boys in today's world and I can always count on her to not only give me solid advice....but to give godly advice. Her decisions with her children are not based on what is necessarily easiest or even acceptable by norms today but by how they affect their spiritual walk. So, I knew she could offer me some much needed advice at the time. So, I texted her with "it has started!" and ran a couple of things by her to make sure I was looking at it and handling it with the proper perspective.
I was just reminded again what a blessing friendship is. That's the thing that we ladies have truly missed the boat on sometimes....the value of friendships...especially godly friendships. Now, I of course talked about it with my husband and we agreed on their priviledges. (They are lucky....they have such a good daddy.) But, I think I can speak for the majority of parents when I say that daddies will never quite understand how our mama brains work. When my son brought me an iPod with the first messages ever from a girl loaded on there....no less than 100 scenarios flew through my mind. Well....let's just say I was glad to have a friend that would not just make me feel good and ease my mama mind, but one that I knew would keep me in line with what a godly mama would do.
We are so very busy these days and I know I for one have been guilty of not investing enough time in friendships. Fortunately, despite my shortcomings, the Lord has blessed me with strong friendships that, through little effort of my own, have lasted since childhood. Not to mention siblings and cousins....my original circle of friends:) He continues to add new ones along the way. Today more than ever in this crazy world, I'm thankful that even though I have not always invested well in others, the Lord knew what I'd need and has placed some godly women in my life that I can discuss anything with...from the day to day joys and frustrations to all out spiritual warfare.
We tend to make relationships more complicated than they have to be. We all know that our family is our first ministry. I am not at all suggesting we leave them every Friday night to have a girls night out for the sake of investing in friendships. Nor am I saying we have to spend daily time together like Lucy and Ethel. With technology today, there are simple ways we can touch base without totally dropping our daily duties. Just a phone call, email or text to check in with them can go a long way in letting them know that we are thinking of them during our busy day. While I don't think we should be inseperable like Lucy and Ethel, I believe it is extremely important to make time to truly sit, talk, and catch up. For men, and some women maybe, it would probably be a round of golf; the occasional long lunch or evening out; whatever it may be, when that time is spent with a godly friend...it's like a dose of medicine for an ache. As I said, I have dropped the ball in this area many times. But, I am increasingly aware of a need that I feel is likely to be at the core of each of us....friendship. We were made for it. We weren't made to "go it alone."
You see, it's more than just a James Taylor song. For starters, we were made for friendship with God and fellowship with Him. We aren't alone by any means. In being the good friend that He is, He also created us for fellowship with each other....especially in the Church. He knew we'd need each other in this life. We need people to laugh with and share our struggles with; We need godly people in our life to help us maintain our accountability to God in a world that increasingly wants to draw us away; and last but certainly not least, He knew we needed these relationships...not just so we could be served, but so we could learn to serve others. When He is allowed to work out our shortcomings in our friendships, we increase our capacity for humility, love, compassion, and forgiveness...and ultimately we grow in our relationship with Him.
I want that for sure. I especially want that for my pre-teen boys! I pray that my boys will always be friends with their buds from Tennessee. I pray even more that the boys will learn to be not just good friends to each of them, but godly friends. I pray that the boys and their friends and even the ones to come will grow into the type of friends that can discuss anything; The kind of friends that won't simply make each other feel good about their situation...but will keep them in line with being godly men.
Tomorrow we're going to look at a familiar story that, I think, gives us a scriptural frame of reference for the shape that godly friendships take. For now.....text a friend today and let her know you're thinking of her (and maybe download some James Taylor from itunes)! Happy Friday!