Keepin' It Fresh

Monday, February 21, 2011  ::  

My good friend, Jenn, often speaks with interesting word choices. Her written communication is thorough, organized, and entertaining. Her spoken communication is also very clear, but let’s just say it is often a bit on the nerdy side. Her favorite word is vomit. How weird is that? One time when a group of us were hanging out she described my new phone as being “really fresh.” I’m still not exactly sure what she meant, and you can be sure we teased her a little bit.

Fresh. I think it is a pretty interesting adjective. It helps you understand that said object is not stale, or rotten, or old. Fresh conjures of thoughts of sights, fragrances, or tastes that your senses will most likely enjoy. I love the deep, overwhelming smell of fresh cut grass. Although I would not particularly enjoy the taste, I’ve been told that vine ripened, hand picked, homegrown fresh tomatoes are divine. Last week I visited Muir Woods near San Francisco. The vast amount of shades of green I saw in the amazingly fresh vegetation was mesmerizing. Fresh may become one of new favorite words.

In one of the many conversations I had last week with my friends in San Francisco, the topic of freshness in relationships was briefly mentioned. One of the women made a brief statement that she works to keep her friendships fresh, that many people only talk about keeping marriages fresh, but she believes that freshness needs to be brought into all relationships. Not much else was mentioned on the subject, but my brain has been mulling this over since that day. (And many, many other topics that were brought up last week that I will slowly unpack.)

To be honest, it is pretty easy for me to describe what Chad and I do to keep our marriage fresh. I have no desire to have an old, stale, rotten marriage. We talk about everything, go on dates, explore new things with our kids, and challenge each other to grow in our thinking about God and how he wants to move and work in our lives. If we ever feel a lack of freshness, one of us addresses the issue. There is no room for stinky oldness in our relationship. Freshness is a priority.

But what about in my friendships? What does it even look like to keep friendships fresh? How do you keep from talking about the same old things? What can be a tangible abacus of freshness? Do my friends desire continued growth in relationships? If yes, then how?

As I’ve thought about this, to be honest, I’ve been a little disappointed in myself. In so many areas of my life, I’m proactive. Although I would say that I’m a relational person, it is difficult for me to describe ways that I am taking initiative to keep my friendships fresh. Here are a few examples of ways Chad and I have seen freshness in our friendships:

  • new people pursue us
  • Ticket to Ride (a fun board game that we just started playing)
  • new ministry ideas that some of our friends enjoy discussing
  • spontaneous book discussions
  • new food experiences (Friends having our whole family over for dinner or taking our whole family out for Ethiopian.)
  • parties organized in such a way to keep things interesting and intentional
  • genuine conversational sharing of what God is teaching us...questions, shared ideas that lead to more questions and so on and so on

What about you? Have you thought about keeping your friendships fresh? How are you doing it? What keeps you from keeping things fresh?

And, before anyone gets snarky and responds with a naive “Well, it will just happen naturally” let me remind you that good tomato vines take watering, pruning, weeding, harvesting. Fresh cut grass means that someone is pushing (or riding) a lawn mower. The beautiful shades of green in Muir Woods have been growing for thousands of years. The conservation effort is enormous. So, please let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that relationships don’t take real, honest, hard work. Intentionality is the minimum requirement for freshness in friendship.

Let me hear your thoughts...

4 important comments so far. What are your thoughts?

Unknown said...

First of all--I would love to play ticket to ride with you all. :)

Second, keeping things fresh in my friendships:
*Getting to know co-workers together by hosting them, more convo with them and initiating hanging out with them.

*New ministry passion and ideas, discussing and pursuing that together

*Praying together
*Showing appreciation for and encouraging one another

*Hanging out together with people we don't hang out with on a regular basis

*New card games, going on trips together, new restaurants

*Cooking for each other

Angela DeSoto said...

Some thoughts...
I enjoy bringing a couple of my friends together who dont know each other, but know me. Seeing my friends get to know my other friends brings new light to the people I already love and trust. And increases my respect for each of them.
Before I get together with friends that I see often I think ahead about questions I can ask that go outside the norm of our usual conversation. For me, authenticity doesnt always equal spontaneity.
I love the idea of going to something with friends that neither of us would normally go to, like the opera or a big sporting event. Trying something new always brings out interesting components of our character, I think :).

Anonymous said...

Ok Angel....I'm sorry I'm not better at keeping our relationship fresh! I will do better...promise!!
I love you and I'm really grateful that I can say you're not only my daughter but my friend as well.
:) Thanks for the reminder...

Jenn said...

Fostering freshness in friendships is something that requires intentionality. I think it also requires checking expectations of the relationship--what is it you are hoping to gain? If I want to be someone's friend, it requires that I not take take take from them, but also give. Giving by listening, asking questions, being willing to do something new, and engaging within the friendship.

For me, personally, I've been spending the past few weeks wrestling with this topic. What do I need to do to ensure my friendships stay (what I'll now call) fresh? I've recongized that I haven't made it a priority--I've been consumed with this, that, and that other thing. I've been the biggest obstacle in keeping things fresh--something that I'm working to change as I adjust my expectations, priorities, and schedule.

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