Lisa Whelchel, who all of you who grew up in the 80’s like I did, might remember as Blair on the Facts of Life, took her own journey to intentionally look at friendship in her life. Like me, she thought she was pretty good at friendship. She was able to reach out to people, she had a great group of friends with whom she laughed and shared life, but a few good friends in her life made her realize that she was holding back — she had built a wall of reserve.
Friendship for Grown-Ups: What I Missed and Learned Along the Way is the story of her journey. It’s not a how-to guide on making friends, it’s not meant to inspire you to build bridges with people (though you will probably want to after reading it). It’s simply her personal story of rocky friendships, good friendships, intergenerational friendships. She dug deep to break down her own walls and found it was worth it.
I loved this book.
I had a chance to do a phone interview with Lisa, and it was fun talking to her about our own experiences with friendship:
After reading the book, I realized that I’ve held back from true intimacy as well. I wondered how we can identify our own walls, or walls in others, and how can we break them down?
Lisa Whelchel said, “When I’m talking to someone, I pay attention to how I’m feeling”
She related a story about how she was talking to someone, and then she just put the wall right up, and said what she thought she should say, versus how she was really feeling. Lisa recognized the switch and confronted her friend about it. She gave her permission to feel and express her true feelings.
“We relate mask to mask not heart to heart.”
That should vs. reality quandry made me wonder if she thought it was harder for Christian women to have intimate friendships, or harder. On one hand, we have that very important common bond. On the other hand, there is that mask.
She didn’t even hesitate. “It’s definitely harder. There’s so much pressure to be a certain way, we end up pretending to be what we should be instead of who we really are.”
I love the fact that throughout the book, Lisa let us peek into so many kinds of friendships — intergenerational, Christian to Christian, old friends, new friends. I asked her, “Why is it important to get close to a variety of people?”
“If you have a diet of just peanut butter and jelly — those are yummy — but you miss out on steak or salad or a piece of fruit.”
This sums up what I like about this book and my conversation with Lisa Whelchel. She’s real. She’s down-home. But she’s wise too.
She encourages us in the book to be vulnerable and to just “get naked” with those around us (metaphorically of course). Knowing that she’s a good Texas girl, I had to ask her, “Is it naked, or nekkid?”
“Nekkid!” she squealed. “Oh, definitely nekkid.”
I have THREE copies of Friendship for Grown-Ups: What I Missed and Learned Along the Way to give away, courtesy of Thomas Nelson publisher. Please leave a comment if you’d like to win this great book. We’ll announce the winners in the August 9 column.
The winner of Fly Away Home by Jennifer Weiner is #13 Sarah.
Disclosure: I received a copy of the book for review purposes.