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Monday, May 23, 2005 

Lookin’ for Love in All the Right Places…

Let me think this one through from the beginning…

I didn’t have a choice about hanging out with my mom and dad for the first few years, neither did I have a choice about my siblings. But I have GREAT parents and GREAT siblings. Good examples one and all.

My quintessential good influence and best friend was Elizabeth Utterback. She influenced my young life more than anyone else outside of my immediate family. Elizabeth was extraordinary. She was zany, cultured, smart, imaginative, funny, and talented. We spent entire summers together (I rarely slept in my own house), and spent the school year writing notes back and forth decorated with flowers and toe shoes.

This is Elizabeth and me on the Jersey shore.
Me and Elizabeth

Elizabeth was one of two children. Her parents were both from a small Missouri town and were educated and loving. Officially, they were Lutheran, but I rarely recall their going to church. Her parents were good, law abiding, boundary creating, quality-family-time appreciating people. I didn’t see them as being all that different from my own family.

Contrast Elizabeth with Missy Magee. We were friends with Missy, too, at first. But as we grew into puberty, it became apparent that Missy did not have the same support at home, and her behavior became more attention seeking. Missy chose more rebellious and “grown up” behavior, while Elizabeth and I seemed to cling desperately to being kids. By the time we were in junior high, Missy was hanging out with a fairly “mature” crowd. Our separation as friends was natural, but not without a little malice. Elizabeth and I did not choose to partake in certain activities, and I think Missy always felt a little judged by us. I was grateful to have a friend who understood and supported my standards without judgement, and I think she felt the same about me.

My current “best” friends are people like Elizabeth. While I have friends from all walks of life; people who in are all stages of belief, maturity, addiction, age, race, and even humor, I mean to say the people I spend the MOST time with are people who have a similar belief system (not religion necessarily) as I do.

It is difficult to spend a LOT of time with people in a social/friendship situation who have drastically different beliefs, or who participate in activities that are contrary to yours. Welcome to my entire high school experience… It can be draining. I have always tried to choose friends who were on the same basic path as I was; people who were striving for knowledge, answers to questions, seeking the “better path” or personal improvement.

But this, too, has been a process of trial and error. There have been times when I had to seek other friends because the situation was unhealthy for me emotionally or spiritually or both. “Letting go” of, or decreasing time spent with, friends you LOVE because you know it would be good or healthy for you is excruciating. It’s like being thrown out of your native land while your heart is being ripped out. But spending time with a friend I love who is not good for me is not worth jeopardizing my true desire to have a relationship with my Heavenly Father, and to be worthy to return to His presence.

So that is why my answer to this week’s question is “yes.” My relationships HAVE affected my spirituality and choices. I feel so lucky (read: blessed) to have associated with such great people in my life. I feel like these wonderful people have been put, nay THRUST, into my path so that I may learn something from them or simply enjoy them.

This sentiment goes double, triple, quadruple for my current best friend, Todd. This is not to say that our relationship is perfect. The most insidious thing about our marriage is that we have identical weaknesses. Do you realize how HARD that can be? Sometimes I feel like we are two crabs in a bucket, but on the whole, we are good for each other…in all the important ways. Plus, he’s the kind of friend who writes notes, although his instant messenger doesn’t yet have an icon for a toe shoe.

Yes, Carrie Ann, I do know how hard it can be to have the same weaknesses, my husband and I are both obsessive, just about different things, and we tend to be feisty, complaining people. We complain about the weather, the neighbor's dog, etc. After all these years, we've adjusted, and both try to be more positive and kind people. We remind each other that we have this problem.

I don't see a question that you referred to, so I'm sort of out of context here.

As a mother, I would like a daughter like you, I encourage my daughter to be careful how she picks her friends. I'm less careful myself, and my life is richer for it. I've found, as years pass, that those who seem to be on track, can lose their place very easily.

So I have mixed emotions about your post. You never know how Missy might end up, I know people never thought I'd quit drinking and go to church. I tend to have friends of all persuasions, the thing they have in common is that they are interested in others, serve them, and God. The people I try to avoid now are mostly "good" Mormons who talk the talk, but don't walk the walk.

A

i agree with annegb, although i did like this post. you never know where people are going to end up. Some of the most rebellious (read: drugs, drinking, sex, etc) boys I knew at 15, 16, 17 became really great RMs, husbands, fathers, and men. The opposite is true as well--some of the most hardcore churchgoing kids I knew ended up pregnant, drinking the day away, and who knows what else.

I think the main point of friendships with regards to spirituality, which was touched on in the post, is mutual respect for differing beliefs. My closest friends aren't Mormon and they go out an have a beer with dinner, wine, smoke a cigarette, whatever, because their religious views don't prohibit this. (Or in some cases, they don't believe in any religion/God). But, they never pressure me to drink with them, to smoke, or to lower my standards in any way. I treat them with the same respect-I never judge them for their choices. Does the fact that they have red wine with their dinner make them bad people? I hardly think so. We all have generally the same beliefs about how people should be treated and we all are compassionate about others. So the things that vary between us don't matter, because we understand where the other people stand and respect it.

Generally I try to keep in mind that most people are very respectful of my decisions, and as long as I return that respect with regards to their decisions, then I can be good friends with almost anyone.

Of course those "on track" can lose their place. And of course those who are rebellious can become great. But I think that it is still smart to try to associate most with those who share the same values at the time.

One of my best friends is not LDS, though she shares many of the values I do. I don't think that is really the point.

I don't think that Carrie Ann was implying in any way that Missy couldn't end up with the same goals and values that she (Carrie Ann)has. But at the time, she recognized that Missy was not a positive influence and that's what she (wisely) based her decision on.

It is important to not judge others. However we do need to judge the situations we are in, influences we are under, etc. If a person who makes different choices is likely to be a negative influence on the decisions you make, you should not spend much time with that person. You do not need to close the door completely, but you should watch out for your own safety (physical, spiritual, mental). When their choices begin to create an environment that is supportive of your values it is great to re-establish the friendship.

It is a very individual thing. Some are capable of maintaining friendships without being influenced to do things that compromise their values, others have a much harder time at it. We need to be aware of who we are, what our goals and values are, what our weaknesses (and strengths) are, and then make the best choice we can.

Well, that's what I meant, this is exactly what I want my daughter to do, because I want her to be safe. I feel okay on the wild side, but it has gotten me into trouble...won't wax poetic, but you can imagine.

Well, that's what I meant, this is exactly what I want my daughter to do, because I want her to be safe. I feel okay on the wild side, but it has gotten me into trouble...won't wax poetic, but you can imagine.

Excellent post, CA...

I don't feel that CA was judging anyone in this post. There's a quote by somebody famous (who I can't think of their name) that says that you surround yourself with the people that you admire or want to be like. Of course, I'm paraphrasing...but you get the idea. Its just like here at my office. There are groups of SERIOUSLY negative people. I could hang out with them, if THAT is what I want to be like. But I don't...I choose who I'm friends with so as not to be brought down by the negativity.

Again...great post...

i realize that this post is a few months old, but this is the "infamous" Missy Magee. I have turned out great. I am sucessful and extremely happy in my life. This posting makes me unhappy however, i never thought Carrie judged me until now. As a thought don't use people's full names. This is hyrtful to read your name in such a bad light. I am happy that Elizabeth and Carrie were able to keep in such good contact, but they were not he friends for me. My friends were out there, elsewhere.

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This Week's Topic:

  • The Sabbath Day

Various Authors

  • Monday:
    Kaycee opted out of Mormondom 4 years ago. She calls herself agnostic.
  • Tuesday:
    Sarah is not your average Gospel Doctrine Teacher.
  • Wednesday:
    Carrie Ann comes from pioneer stock, and lives in Provo, but is open minded and fair.
  • Thursday:
    Ned Flanders hasn't been to church in a while, but maintains an interest in all things Mormon.
  • Friday:
    John C. is an academic with a sense of humor and a testimony.
  • Saturday:
    JP's not going to church and feeling okay about it.

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