In-Between Thoughts 12.17.18: grace in relationships

What is this stinky place with all the weird machines and sticks and rubber plates and people in tight pants? What is a “deadlift” and why is everything so stupid and so heavy?

It has been almost one month since my last legs day and two weeks since my last upper body session. I can tell my muscles are atrophying, which is 😦 but at least that means my pants are looser so :-)?

In any event, it feels great to be back to it and I want to get my beautiful muscle back, pants be damned. Let’s hope I can keep this going now that school is out. (Woo hoo!)

Onto gym thoughts…

I have been thinking lately about friendships, and the back-and-forth of support that really mimics that of a marriage. One of the best pieces of advice I got about marriage wasn’t even given as advice, but was from a friend ruminating on her marriage and the difficulties her husband was going through at the time. She said something to the effect of: “Sometimes your spouse can’t give you what you need. Sometimes they can’t give you anything at all. Sometimes you need to be the only one giving in order to help them heal and get to the place where they can give again.”

I love that sentiment. It’s such a grace-filled way of seeing people as human, flawed, vulnerable, and needy. Needy in the good, natural, inevitable way. It’s also such a good philosophy for loving people through the times when they aren’t giving much and can’t be full partners, due to their current struggles.

The part that makes it actually useful is the expectation that the struggling spouse will one day give again. One-sided giving is not expected to continue indefinitely. One-sided support is not characteristic of an intimate relationship. The currently-giving spouse will herself inevitably at some point come to a place where she can’t give anything and then her spouse will carry the supportive effort on their own. Then, in the best of times both will give to each other and be mutually (even if never perfectly equally) supportive.

I think this applies a lot to friendships, too, because it turns out friendships are also composed of vulnerable, needy humans! (Mind=blown.) I’ve had a couple friendships that have been pretty one-sided for a while. There are definitely reasons, but it can also hurt when I am also going through some sh*t and could really have used the kind of support I was trying to give to them while also struggling to survive some sh*t. So I decided to give myself the grace to stop. To not feel like I needed to support them but instead to focus on my own healing and struggle and accept that I cannot be the supportive friend 100% of the time.

And it felt good. It felt like I was asserting some boundaries, like I was giving myself the grace to be in a place where I can’t give to anyone. It also enabled me to let my friends be able to reach out if/when they are in a place to be close again, without judgment and without bitterness.

It also gave me a better, more excited way to give to those friends who aren’t in a place to give themselves, to know that there are times when I can pour into them in a way that may not be returned, without feeling like it is as much of a drain. It’s a less “invested” way to support them? I’m not sure how it all works, but that mentality really does make the giving more joyful and much easier.

I really don’t want to write people off willy nilly, which is a big temptation to me when I feel a relationship is seriously lopsided in their favor. (WEIRD that I never have the same drive to write people off when the relationship is lopsided in MY favor….) I want to view people with as much grace as I can, while also giving myself the same grace to be imperfect and to struggle in such a way that relationships take a back seat. It’s the blend of having grace for others AND ourselves that makes intimate relationships balanced, loving, and understanding.

Why is it so hard to do both? Why is it so hard to extend grace to others while we extend grace to ourselves, and vice versa? I feel like this reveals a deep misunderstanding of what grace means and about what it means to give it. I want to think about that some more.

In the meantime, I will grunt and quake and tremble my way through the rest of these deadlifts because I thought I was deadlifting 160 but it turns out I was deadlifting 180 and now I am feeling out of shape and dumb. Womp womp.


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