relationships

Double Bouncing Friendships

I grew up on trampolines, Kool-Aid, sprinklers and creating tree forts in the woods. It was a wonderful childhood (not perfect) filled with family and friends. I remember Sundays being my favorite days for my best girls and I to own Sunday school like a boss, run around the church playing make believe and then everyone heading to Ryan Steakhouse for their all you can eat buffet. As little girls, we would compliment our latest colored socks or talk about how we got into trouble for watching the Smurfs. We were a GIRL PACK/TRIBE/GANG/GROUP long before we knew those existed. It was fun, it was exciting and it was organic. Relationships were easy and natural, without pressure of feeling the sting of exclusivity and favoritism. No one talked about who knew who or who hung out with who, or compared relationships with another. We just…well….enjoyed our friendships for what they were. Some of my friends came from wealthy lives that lived in large homes and took exciting vacations. They worked hard for their lifestyle and I respected that. Others grew up with disabled family members who lived with lots of love and joy knowing that each day brought its own adventures. I adored and encouraged them. 

Every season of life has brought a plethora of people with wonderful stories. We played together, got mad at each other, forgave each other and never thought about why we couldn’t be friends with one another. We were just friends…it was simple. 

Then we all grew up, the world grew up and I saw friendships become complicated and overexposed. 

We needed boundaries….

We needed vulnerability….

We needed affirmation and encouragement….

And when we didn’t get it, we dropped one another in search of another friend. 

We became selfish, isolated, cruel, comparison junkies, ambition driven women who were going to be STRONG and independent. 

We read books to discover why we should no longer talk to “so in so” and set what we call “healthy boundaries”. We share a bit of our heart on social media while flashing a bit more skin in hopes we get a few more likes to feel a little bit more empty. We build bigger homes behind bigger gates so we can protect our privacy, and we build bigger green rooms to talk less to the needy/weird/difficult/ people we’ve been called to love. 

Relationships became strategic and friendships became complicated. 

It’s like the adult version of us all jumping on the trampoline, one falls down and we all keep jumping. Admit it; you loved double bouncing people when they fell and struggled when you got double bounced. Trampolines taught me a lot about life and friendships as a child and even more as an adult.

Eventually three things have to happen (on the trampoline):

  1. If you fell, get back up EVEN if no one stops jumping. It might feel impossible, hard and you might feel hurt, but the goal on a trampoline is that you keep jumping! Resilience is key when building friendships and you might have to jump with a few bad batches of people, but don’t let it take the joy away of YOU jumping!
  2. If you’re jumping and someone falls, help them back up! You might have the strength to offer them and the hand they need in an overwhelmingly large “trampoline” life full of navigating friendships.
  3. If you fell or you’re offering a hand up, remember that the GOAL is to continue to jump with others. No one is perfect, we all need grace, a time-out, and an opportunity to begin again. Stop lashing out at those who are not offering a hand up and stop double bouncing people when they are down!

If we’d focus more on the joy of jumping with others, we’d focus less on how another jumps. It’s a tough world and we are all in desperate need of Jesus’ grace and love…..especially in friendships. 

With all my heart,

-JHuff

(Picture from @Kaitlyn.Hachman)

Struggle & Strength: Cultivating Intentional Friendships

Super VULNERABLE post: In this season of planting a church and pastoring. My friendships got caught in the current….and maybe my heart did too. Coming from a long line of ministry families, you see, hear, experience and feel the cost of leading at the expense of relationships. I saw people who loved my family, walk away when things got tough, or when we they experienced the “humanity” of their leaders or who decided another church was a better fit for them. None of it was wrong, but neither was it easy. Watching other leaders (who are further ahead in life), I see some who are very quiet about their life outside of the Sunday in attempt to maintain some privacy or perhaps have experienced the sting of “why them and not me” moments with their sphere. Others hide nothing including the raw and real moments of parenting, failures, laughter, marriage, etc. I’ve respected them all and their choice of how they live their life before the Lord and others. In the struggle to use wisdom in all things with relationships (no joke, I ask for it from God everyday!), my prayer has been that I’m always found to BE a good friend before ever saying I HAVE good friends. It’s refreshing others, long before we stop and ask  “Am I being refreshed”! I’ve also realized I haven’t always been found to be a good friend and that our current landscape of women struggle to find their footing with other females. It’s what set my heart and feet on course to launch #GirlGang and the “Love them” portion of our mission statement. How do we love others properly when we don’t feel like we are loved? How do we refresh others when our soul feels dry and empty. Another tough, but good question! 

Because of this honoring and sobering season of ministry, #GirlGang will always be birthed out of the heart conversations I have with God, and truth be told, I’ve talked a lot with Him recently about friendships; mine and others who have lost their footing or who can celebrate them well. From those conversations, our new focus for our Fall season is timely titled, “Struggle & Strength: Cultivating Intentional Friendships”. Why? Because making friends is hard; cultivating them is even harder. How do we live authentically and then manage the hurt when it comes? How do we give generously and yet have healthy expectations in friendships? This season is exciting and scary all at the same time, but we are about to embark down a road that is filled with tears, joy, laughter, love and forgiveness TOGETHER! The road might mean saying “I’m sorry, I need to do better” and also saying, “Let’s start over”. It’s also about accepting love, but also learning how to give love to those with no strings attached.

Lovelies, we can do this, and I’m with you every step of the way. 

With all my heart,

J-Huff

PS  – Want to know more about #GirlGang and join our online community? Email: Hello@GirlGang.live