Last Saturday I met with some of the ladies I know from church. We shared coffee and tea and dessert and talked about our babies and friendship. At the urging of my friend (and co-leader of the group) I read the blog post I wrote a few weeks ago about my Fear of Friendship.
It didn’t occur to me that it would be hard to read my own words in front of other people, but when the time came and I spoke the words I had penned regarding my own journey toward meaningful relationships, I became very self-conscious. Talking about my failures at past attempts at friendship and my preference for isolation rather than risking rejection in front of several women I admire and whose opinion I value was difficult, to say the least.
When I finished, I sat there with all those eyes on me and felt that I had laid myself bare before them. I didn’t look up for a little while, because I was a kind of afraid of what I would see on their faces. An interesting thing happened, though. As the conversation got going, one by one, each lady talked about her own challenges in making and keeping friends. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was safe with these ladies. They have the same struggles that I do. They have been hurt, too. They have the same longing to be truly known and loved, faults, craziness and all.
There was a moment when we all looked at each other in a kind of surprise when we realized that every one of us felt the same way. We were all looking for safe friendship. I think it was a moment of unexpected connection. I hope it was the beginning of some wonderful, deep relationships.
We know that God did not intend us to live in isolation. Some of the first words that he said after creating Adam in the Garden of Eve were, “It is not good for man to be alone”. We also know that his plan for the church was to enable us to lived in community with our fellow believers in Christ. So, how is it that we can go to church every week, shake hands with our “Brothers and Sisters in Christ”, even attend church social events and then go home feeling so alone? Is it that attending a large church give the illusion of community while still being in the midst of anonymity?
Is it our technology based, fast paced culture that has us spending all our evenings in front of our tv’s and computers instead of visiting with our friends and actually talking to each other?
Is it that we are so media and news saturated that we are afraid to get to know people for fear that they could be a mass murderer in disguise?
It’s probably all of those things, plus a few I haven’t thought of. I do know, however, that we have to find a way to connect with each other on a meaningful level if we are going to have fulfilling lives. I’m starting to learn that what I have to do to get to that place of meaningful relationship is to allow myself to be vulnerable. I have to trust people to know me and not hurt me. As scary as it is, I have to be willing to be seen as I really am in order to be truly known. I’ve also been learning that when I take the step of trusting, others feel a little more comfortable to trust, too. And that's when true relationship develops.