(*Disclaimer: The opening of this blog is not a slam, in any way, on those of you who were absolutely there. You know who you are and I don’t “group” you with the ones I’m about to mention. Please know that!)
When I was a senior in college, I was attacked in the parking lot of my apartment. I couldn’t “prove” it and the guy disappeared. I fled to my apartment and just went into, essentially, a completely frozen mode. I didn’t react like everyone thought I should and therefore did not find many people in my corner. In one of the darkest seasons of my life, most of the people that I counted as friends went the other direction. Not only were some of them nowhere to be found, many of them were part of the furthering of the flying rumors. I quickly found myself in not a broken place, but one of feeling completely shattered. I developed serious trust issues with people.
For a really long time after that, I tried to get an understanding of God’s grace and love all by myself. But God created us for relationships—not only with Himself but also with others. If God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit need each other, then where in the world did I get the impression that He would be impressed with my Lone Ranger approach? I didn’t withdraw from people, but instead just refused to go beyond surface level conversation.
In the last year or two, I’ve allowed God to break down the walls that I had built so high. It’s hasn’t always been a fun place to be, but because of that—I have learned so much about honest friendships. I’ve learned what really being there for someone else is about and what allowing an “outsider” to enter my heart looks like.
There are still seasons of my life where I am haunted by the memory of that infamous morning. Something will trigger it and I can still hear myself scream, see his face, and feel out of breath from running when in reality I’m just going through the routine tasks of my day. Unfortunately, it causes me to question the friendships in my life all over again.
There is just something about the genuine sharing between friends that is kind of my favorite. The ones that I don’t feel like I have to filter for; I can just be me because they “get” me. Isn’t that what we all want? To be seen, the good, the bad, and the ugly and still be embraced? I am flabbergasted that I have people in my life who know most everything about me, but love me anyway.
Over the past two weeks, I’ve been reminded of just how blessed I am to have the friends in my life that I do. I have sat across the table from my college apartment-mate while she listened to the ramblings of my world and totally understood everything I was saying, she knows me. I have shared e-mails with one of the most Godly women that I know and not had to “explain” anything. I have shared cryptic text messages with a friend of mine that has put up with me since high school. Today I sat across the table from one of the coolest guys I know and somehow he understood everything that I didn’t even know how to say. I don’t have to check my words with him. Which is particularly great since I don’t tend to check what I say with myself, ha! I get to have lunch (almost) daily with a co-worker who has also become my friend. She allows me to not make any sense and change my mind in mid-sentence. She lets me repeat how I feel about something just about every single day and walks with me through the mess that I tend to find myself in.
Why these people are friends with me—I will never understand. I am often high maintenance and quite confusing. I over-analyze everything and ask a million questions. I don’t get it but boy am I sure thankful that the Lord saw fit to share them with me. Knowing that they are praying for me, standing in the gaps on my behalf, has helped to sustain me more than they could ever know. I pray that I have that same grace with them.
Be intentional about investing in friendships. Pick up the phone and call. Have lunch. Send the seemingly random text. Drop a card in the mail. Shoot the e-mail their way. Allow people to do that for you too. This whole thing called life wasn’t meant to be done alone.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)