September 17, 2012

Friendship is Made

Let's talk friendship.

I know you kind of don't want to because it can be a sore subject, capable of dredging up all kinds of frustrations and wounds and insecurities. I know how hard it is for you sometimes, but also how much you desperately long for connection and conversation and kindred spirits.
I know that you wish other women would call or that you were known, and not just known, but known and accepted too. I know that you want to be vulnerable but something keeps you from that sometimes and then when you are vulnerable you second guess yourself, questioning if you should have been so open. I know that you wonder if it's you or if you don't know how to make friends anymore like you did in high school. I know that your greatest insecurities can reside in your friendships with women and you don't always know what to do about it.

I know, because friendship is hard for us all.

I know too that you sometimes try to impress people and dress for them and perform for them and parent for them, trying to win friends or at least make people like you from afar. I know that you make assumptions about other women and these assumptions create rifts between you and them. I know that you think your situation is harder than everyone else's, or that you are the only one who feels like you don't belong and that this self-pity isolates you further.

I know, because I have made it harder for myself in these very ways. And I know because I see it in the eyes of women around me and I hear it in their words, this longing for community.

I know too that friendship is not easy for anyone and it does not come easy. It does not come at all, actually, as if we can just sit and wait and it will all work out how we want in the end. Nothing in life works like this but for some reason we tend to believe it's how friendship works.

Friendship is made through effort and time and vulnerability and initiative and responsiveness. It is made when we push through awkwardness or make the first move or tell something that we might second guess later. It is made when we stop trying to be something that we think everyone else wants us to be and we're just who we are. It is made when we ask for help or when we give help or when we cry and we don't care if they see.

Most of all, friendship is made as we gather with others around Christ and delight in Him together. Around Him, our assumptions about other women fall away easier and we see that every woman is just like us: weak, needy, and craving community. Around Him, the categories we place people in--single/married, mother/not a mother, working mom/stay at home mom, young/old, in ministry/not in ministry--no longer matter as much because, no matter what, we have something important in common.

Gathering around Him doesn't make everything suddenly better. But gathering around Him, we find that He satisfies our hearts, and He enables us to see beyond the surface with others and offer them grace, which is really the first prerequisite for deep friendship.

When we know friendships don't just come to us but are made by us and by God, then every relationship we enjoy with other women becomes a treasure, a gift, an accomplishment.

So this is what I want to say to you and to myself: No matter where you are or what has happened, let your heart be loved by God today and make something as you let that love overflow.
For further reading, I recommend:

Making Friends with Imperfect People
When You're Not Sure Who Your Friends Are
Friendship is Hard (and How to Make It Easier)