This friend had done absolutely nothing wrong in fact they are a 100% incredible support to me and have been for many years. So, I said to them, "I'm trying to be sister so and so, and it's really hard..."
I have attended many funerals where they have talked about brother or sister so and so -- the deceased -- and what a saint they were. You hear things such as:
"She never said an unkind word about anyone or anything..."
She was always "up"
"She never complained..."
"She always had a smile on her face..."
and when I leave funerals like that I can't help but be inspired that this is the way I should live 24/7. It gives me another push to pull myself up by my boot straps (remember, I love boots...LOL) and be a completely positive person, minimizing any problems I may have and keeping a cheery disposition 100% of the time.
I also read blogs by people who talk about living life "with the end in mind" -- looking to the end of your life, your eulogy -- what you want to be said about you. One blogger in his 20's actually went so far as to write his eulogy. He has detailed his funeral and is now making it his goal to live the next however many years to make the things he wants to be said of him come to pass. I will be honest, I was incredibly inspired. My thinking was, "okay, okay, I can do this..."
What that requires for me is to be quiet...
not tell anyone when things aren't going right...
shut out everyone out who really cares to ask, "how are you?... (and wants the real answer)
simply answer "fine" when asked ...
because if things aren't exactly peachy and I speak honestly from my heart...then all of a sudden, I am back to being the real me and so unlike "Sister so and so" who they talked about at the funeral.
When I told my friend all this they promptly sent me an e-mail telling me that it was time for me to quit trying to be sister so and so, or have her bio at the end of my life. They told me they used to try to live "the eulogy" but they stopped because they realized (and I'm quoting them here) "Those wonderful old saints who have those wonderful sayings about them all sat home and knitted. When you are out doing something like we are, you will be criticized." My friend gave me an exhortation that I sorely needed. They told me, it's time that you live like you were dying and let the chips fall where they may. And they reminded me of what friends are for. They said, "Deanna, I don't care if you call me everyday crying as long as you don't mind me doing the same."
So it was time. I unloaded on them. A huge load. And when I was done they said, "I think that might be all you needed." I think they were right.
What a shame that the "sister so and so's" may have never gotten an opportunity to do that. Surely they had things bottled up inside. I'm sure they took it to Jesus (I do too) but sometimes you just need somebody with skin on.
As my friend pointed out, trying to be the "sister so and so" that you hear about at funerals is not only exhausting, it really isn't healthy. God made us for relationship, and sharing our ups and downs is a part of that. So if I sound off to a friend and it's not in the most spiritual of ways, or polished with a lot of "praise the Lord anyways", it's okay.
So that's how I'm going to live. Or at least I'm going to try to. Instead of living my life with the end in mind, I'm going to try to live my life more in the moment. It's the opposite of what I'm hearing in some sermons or articles, but truly, living life the other way isn't really working for me. It's hard for a goal oriented person like me to live more in the moment (I really do want the "sister so and so" eulogy at the end of my life!) but as someone once said, "well behaved women rarely make history."
So I guess I'll just be me. And that means being honest with my friends about what is bothering me, even when I don't seem as spiritual as sister so and so who never shares her woes or when she does, veils them in a lot of christianese.