Today though, I think it was the spirit of friendship and a willingness to be vulnerable which allowed the conversation to flow. Over latte and hot chocolate, three women talked and shared and laughed and were honest ... and it was good. Well, it was good for me to be able to say to people, "Sometimes I feel ____" ... and have them say, "I get that." and I felt supported but not like they were judging or trying to tell me I shouldn't feel my feelings or even how I could fix them. Instead, they affirmed my feelings and in doing so, they showed me grace and love (even if they didn't realize it :) ).
We were present and authentic and I am so very thankful for the opportunity to share in that time.
It started me thinking about how frequently in the past year I have had conversations with women who are reaching out, trying to build connections and close relationships with others. We're all floating around each other but I suspect never quite sure how to make the leap from acquaintance to friend we can call to chat with on the phone, or have lunch with or to say, "Sometimes I feel like ___."
I think most of us want the same thing. Sure there are some who have plenty of friends already and cannot spare a minute for another friend, but I think most of us would love to have a few more people to share this crazy life with.
My question for you (yes, YOU) is do you feel that way, like you need the connections and cannot seem to get from acquaintance to close friendship? What would it take for you to be vulnerable enough to say, "Will you be my friend?" or not to say that but to start inviting and chatting and saying, "Hey, want to do lunch or coffee or a movie?" I've written about this before here. Obviously, it's still on my mind. I have made headway, and yet, I still feel awkward about reaching out. I still wonder why would someone want to be my friend?
It is a spirit of love that encourages these relationships and this understanding. It is a spirit of empathy that allows us to sit together and "get it". It is a spirit of compassion that makes us care about others and want to hear their stories and share in their lives. I think all of these are born of The Spirit, born of God and the commandment to love others as He first loved us, even when it's not easy or convenient, but gritty and emotional and real.
This has been a gritty, emotional year for me. I have learned to reach out and ask for the support and friendship I desperately need. I hope that I am able to respond in kind; to be available enough and approachable enough that if someone reaches out I respond as a true friend. I am learning to be vulnerable and it can be scary, but it has also shown me that I can trust other people.
I am working at being more authentic and I truly believe that if we all could be "real" and honest we could be much better friends to one another. (Not with, to, big difference.) It isn't easy and it might not always be safe and I think we need to be careful judges about who we share our "stuff" with, but if we are building a friendship, perhaps we need to let the Spirit be our guide.