Tangled Webs

Oh what tangled webs we weave when we agree to go overseas. I’ve never seen a spider weave it’s web, maybe that’s the stuff of science labs where people are paid to study the creative science that is nature. Is it made in an orderly way? Is it made in the same way every single time? Do spiders ever get tired of weaving webs again and again after people dust it away, or because the spider moved to a different corner of the house? Maybe it doesn’t matter. A spider needs its web to survive.

Kind of like of my friendships. I need my relationships to survive. But my web is not neat, tidy, or orderly. I have China relationships, I have relationships in countries where people have gone home. If you really want tangled don’t forget to bring in family relationships! But for now lets focus on the overseas relationships.

I can think of a handful of relationships where I was intentional, maybe even crafty (in a good way!), about pursuing someone’s friendship. These relationships kind of followed typical friend-making rules. Talk a bit, visit a bit, e-mail/text a bit, get together for coffee and so on for several months or a couple of years when at some point you realize you’ve made a great friend. We get along well, we can talk about all sorts of things. I know I encourage them and they certainly encourage me. These are steady strings in my web, neat and orderly, one of my anchors that keeps me from completely blowing away.

There are others though. Like the friend who just sort of shows up. I have a few of those. Friendships whose beginning I can’t pinpoint, not because I have a bad memory, but because it seems they’ve been there a very long time. These are friendships where I think God has given me a gift unlooked-for. I did not intentionally pursue this friendship, God made it happen and all of a sudden I was like, “Whoa, I am so glad you are my friend!” I often feel that I can only hope they are as blessed as I am by our relationship. It feels lopsided. God’s outdoing me with this friendship! These strings, strong and steady, just kind of come out of nowhere in my relationship web, often intersecting a place where I need to be strengthened.

And then there’s the friendship where you think you know what you’re getting into but lady, you had no idea how fun this ride was going to be! I am a firm believer in everyone having at least one friend who can get you into situations you would otherwise have never walked into yourself. That friend who lives life a bit faster, a bit looser, and a bit freer than you! This friendship gets the loudest laughs out of you. Falling off the couch laughs. That friend, who can have you doubled over and snorting. This friendship in my web, is one of my anchor strings; it gives me the ability to withstand some strong winds.

There are some strands that are so fine you almost can’t see them, the ones you only notice because you walk into them. The one you have to follow before you find the web it is supporting. This is the friend who quietly supports you. The friend who calls, seemingly out of the blue, and says “Come have coffee with me, my treat” and it’s like a lifeline that day. Or “So I have an extra meal out. Can I bring it over to you guys?” and you feel tears rolling down your cheeks because the day fell apart in so many ways that dinner, which should be an hour, couldn’t even be on your radar yet. Where would I be without friends like this? A hidden support but no less vital.

These people together make up my web along with so many other pieces. They weave their way around me, in me, through me. Supporting me across all sorts of life circumstances. What a web. All of them strong, all of them vital even the short ones.

Short ones. Strands that feel or seem incomplete. That woman whose friendship I was just starting to fully appreciate when she was winding up her time overseas. Or that woman who, having recently met her, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt we could’ve made some great memories together had I not been leaving in a few months. Strong strands even if they are short.

Living overseas, our web often has to be remade as people come and people go or we uproot and start over. But webs are sticky and we never fully brush off that web of support. The effects of that web: those relationships have changed us in ways we never anticipated. Relationships stopping and starting, going on for years or being cut short. My web is not neat and simple. It is a tangled web but it is unique and beautiful and strong.

Who makes up your web?

10 Comments

  1. Laura January 26, 2016

    Brandi, I loved your metaphor for friendship! I smiled when I read the part about friends who live life a little freer and get you into situations you never could have imagined. ๐Ÿ™‚ I need those friends so much in my life and am thankful for those strands in my life. Thanks again for your words today; they were beautiful. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Brandie Green January 26, 2016

      Laura, I’m glad they made you smile. Friends are so important, whether we are introverted or extroverted, we need them. When I started describing my friendships the idea of a web I was over and over struck by how well the metaphor fit. So strong, so vital, and yet changing with the circumstances. Indeed, my friends have been a life line numerous times. Cheers!

  2. Julie B January 26, 2016

    Love this…..I have a great friend – we have only known each other for a couple of years….we call ourselves “Lucy and Ethel” because we get into crazy adventures together…some pretty intense situations – and the best part is, lots of laughter. ย She is leaving me soon to return to the States and I am so very sad. ย But it was worth the risk of making that friendship because it has enriched my life so very much. ย We will stay friends no matter where we may live and I am sure we will pick right up where we left off, the next time we see each other.

    1. Brandie Green January 26, 2016

      Julie, I love Lucy and Ethel and the picture that comes to mind is both hilarious but steadfast. It’s a risky business making friends (could almost be a line in the Hobbit!) and often gets more difficult to choose as time on the field goes by, friends come and go. But truth be told it is very much enriching. I am so glad that you have a Lucy to your Ethel, or perhaps you’re Lucy ๐Ÿ™‚ and indeed may your friendship deepen in a way that only distance can bring.

  3. Elizabeth January 26, 2016

    Oh I know those short friendships all too well! The women I KNOW are kindred spirits but move cities or countries after just a short, sweet, intense time.

    And the strong, long friendships — I know those too. They are all gifts, and I look forward to heaven when I can be with all of them! For the present, however, I hold them in my heart and think of them when I can. For there is nothing like a good female friend.

    1. Brandie Green January 26, 2016

      Won’t it be wonderful to not have friends scattered here, there, and everywhere! Yes there is something amazing about knowing people from various parts of this world, but my heart would feel much happier if it weren’t split up among so many different locations.

  4. Joanna January 27, 2016

    While we were living in Tena at the Ecuadorian Amazon we went to a guided tour in the rainforest with my hubby and son. The guide showed us some spiders that weave their webs with images from their environment. If there are mountains, they weave mountains, if there are rivers, or trees, or whatever kind of terrain surrounds them, that’s what they weave.

    there were scientists studying the spiders (and other things in the jungle) from all over he world.

    it’s amazing what God has done!

    And also, sort of our friendship webs. We weave the landscape of friendship that God puts around us. And we weave it in the order that He gives it to us. To make the great picture that He has in mind.

    blessings from Ecuador ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Brandie Green January 28, 2016

      Joanna, that is both interesting and insightful. I think you hit on the head that we do the same thing. Thanks for sharing this, I appreciate it.

  5. Emily January 27, 2016

    Brandie, this is such a great metaphor for our relationships overseas. It’s encouraging to reflect on how the different types of “strands” support us in different ways, often in the perfect way we need them for that season, and hopefully we can be the strands our friends need, too. I’m very blessed to have so many different strands in my life. Thank YOU for being one of my very strong strands! Miss you, friend. (In fact, reading this post made some tears leak out, being reminded that you guys are not in China anymore.) Keep up the writing, and may you see lots of good come from your repatriation.

  6. Brandie Green January 28, 2016

    Emily,

    bah humbug on distance, eh! It’s funny, sort of, how spider webs are one of those things that cling quite well to people unless we go and intentionally pick it off…I guess I’m telling you to don’t go picking me off of you ๐Ÿ™‚

    I couldn’t figure out how to describe those friends who you pretty much never see except every 18 months (or year, or 2 years!) at conferences but whose very presence lights you up. I think I’ll be in Emily withdrawal this summer.

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