I have 6 closest friends whom I consider to be those people I "grew up with", since we went through teenage years together. Those years when we experimented and when we tried to find ourselves and our places in life. Those years when we rebelled and built our self-confidence. I've been friends with them for about 15 years (the oldest ones) up to around 10 years (the newest ones). One of their husbands said that he was amazed that we still kept in touch up to now as he hadn't kept in touch with any friends from Junior High School or High School. An Aussie friend of mine who once visited me in Bandung said that we were an interesting bunch as we were SO totally different with one another. Yep, interesting indeed!!!
Up to university, I think we could still understand one another pretty well. I mean, what else could there be to talk about in our lives back then? We were still university students. We only had to deal with exams, courses, exams, and nothing else (back then most of us had no boyfriends yet). We still headed towards a similar direction: graduation and then workplace. Once we started having full-time jobs and then we started having boyfriends and then husbands, everything shifted bit by bit. I began to feel that it got harder and harder to TRULY understand one another since we had less and less time to talk (some of them moved to different cities/countries).
One of them recently asked me why I seemed to be SO burdened to understand them fully. Well, I guess it's just who I am. I crave to understand people fully (sometimes I think I want to understand them better than they understand themselves - it makes me giddy with excitement - but maybe this is one of my craziest sides) and I crave to be understood. However, I've tried to lower my expectations ever since I realize that they're no longer able to spend that much time and energy to understand me fully. But I still have the silent wish to be able to understand them better and better. I think one reason is that I want to know what to say to them. I want to know how I can support them best. I want to know that when I respond to them, I'm not going to pick the wrong words. I know how futile my effort is, though. Saying or doing the wrong thing is inevitable. But one can hope, can't one? ;-D
Anyway, nowadays I feel that we're going to TOTALLY different directions. It makes me slightly more careful in responding to their emails. I have to think twice about what to say to them as I don't want them to think that I'm undermining their situation or patronizing them or being offensive or judgmental. Different priorities force me to stop to think and try to put myself in their shoes before blurting out something that might hurt or offend them. For example: if a friend of yours thinks that a "book" is SO important and then he/she tells you about it in detail and it seems the "book" dominates his/her world so much, but you think it's full of crap, you wouldn't say to to his/her face, would you? Naturally you would want to support your friend, even though it's not easy to find the balance between being true to yourself and being honest to other people versus being an understanding, loving, caring, supportive person.
I guess this is just what life is. It gets harder to understand and support other people when they're going to the opposite directions. It gets harder to support other people's choices when they're so opposite yours. It takes self-control to shut up when you know that what you think is best for them might not be viewed as such by them.
Again I hope God will grant me enough discernment to know when to speak and to be silent. I hope God will grant me enough wisdom to know the balance in life in everything I do, day by day, one step at a time.