“Love is patient, love is kind…
it is not quick-tempered,
it does not brood over injury…”
1 Corinthians 13:4-5
Can you tell when someone is bragging about their kids versus just sharing joy and being amazed by life? I thought I could, until I visited with an old friend I had not seen in twenty years.
Our luncheon started innocently enough as we sipped drinks while waiting for a table. We caught up on what happened after leaving school and where we landed in our careers. When we spoke of children, I revealed how keenly I felt the loss of my dream to have a family. My friend seemed to understand and, after sharing her joy over having two children, turned the conversation to her husband and the dog.
Then we reached our table. And then her merlot kicked in.
As my companion launched into a monologue about her son – that would last our entire meal – waves of shock and panic washed over me. I was about to learn just how smart Junior is, the great Ivy League school he got into, their wonderful times together when she watched him play sports, the awards he won, the private jokes they shared – well, you can imagine the rest.
What part of my struggle did she not get? I considered my choices. I could indulge in a range of emotions popping like hot kernels in my consciousness, or I could load them onto tiny boats in a cosmic river, and watch them slip away. I chose that, and relaxed into a Christian form of meditation, called Centering Prayer. With a deep, cleansing breath, I secretly called on the Lord for what I needed and then…just…let…go…to focus on a prayer word.
At some point, the momzilla took a breath and said, “I am so sorry to keep talking about my son like this, but I miss him so terribly since he left for school!”
Ah, there it was. My long-lost friend was not intentionally trying to offend me, but instead grieving the loss of her best friend. When he left for the east coast, a huge void opened up in her life. Talking about him – remembering the good times – made it seem smaller. It also explained why we were reconnecting after twenty years. If I had allowed my indignation to rise up, our reunion would not have been the gift God intended.
Is it getting easier for you to tell if a gabby friend is bragging or experiencing something else? What helps you get through tense situations like this?
Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago. She met with her old friend for a second lunch and they had such a good time that they now plan to meet monthly for activities like walking and kayaking.