What is True Friendship?
We live in a day where the Pinterest perfect/ Facebook façade is the newly accepted ‘norm.’ If I’m honest, I want to throat punch them! Its all too exhausting and burdensome for my weary soul to carry on the charade! Where are my girls at? Please don’t leave me hanging out here alone on an island! What is true friendship today and where can I find it?
When you ask me how I’m doing, do you really want to know how I am truly feeling or are you just going through the socially acceptable checklist of how to survive small talk?
I feel like our schedules and society have lulled us into a disconnected slumber. We are becoming women just going through the motions of life. We push on to merely “get through it” instead of intentionally trying to “be in it.”
Busyness…we wear it like a badge of honor or wave it proudly like a flag in a parade. We rush from place to place, from this activity to that commitment, where bumping into another actual human being (in true physical form opposed to virtually) is not a welcomed interruption to our day. It is often seen as an inconvenience or stumbling block; an unwanted detour or distraction on our path to our desired destination.
“Since when do we crave checking stuff off our list more than we crave actual connection with another person?”
What Is True Friendship Considered As In Today’s World?
“I’m Fine” is Robbing You and Your Friends of the Fullness of Friendship”
“How are you?”
We hear this question asked everywhere…in the aisles of the grocery store, at piano lessons and car pool line…we are asked several times a day. The question does not bother me as much as the canned response of “I’m F-I-N-E.”
According to Merriam-Webster, the word “fine” is defined as “good, acceptable, or satisfactory.” Now, sometimes “fine” might be an appropriate response, however, I believe deep down in my bones that we are using it NOT as a true reflection of our feelings but as a less complicated/less burdensome response. It is so overused in our society that it almost serves as an abrupt ending to the conversation. “I’m fine,” requires no further explanation; it’s a safe response and one we resort to for fear of judgement or vulnerability.
If I can be real with you for a second…I’m beginning to really DETEST the sound of that word!
How often do we say “I’m fine” and really, truly MEAN IT?
Have you ever been in one of those admittedly awkward situations where someone asks, “How are you?” and you could tell by their obvious body language that they are fully expecting a canned response of “fine” or “o.k.” But, just before they could breathe a sigh of relief and move on into the next moment, you bravely and boldy decide to throw a monkey wrench in their perfectly planned out obligatory attempt at small talk and you choose to be fully yourself in that moment…you choose to own your feelings…you choose vulnerability. Then, in that space, you choose to be seen and heard and you offer up an unexpected answer to how your heart is truly feeling and it is anything but “fine.”
What just happened? Your friend is almost paralyzed by your response. Her facial expression and body language uncomfortably change and you can almost see her retreat inward while her brain shouts:
“Run! Danger! Retreat…Abort mission!”
Come on ladies…truth time! We are all guilty of being on both the giving and receiving ends of “fine.”
Why do we resort to this?
- Fear of judgement, imposition, interruption or inconvenience
- Fill in the blank with your own reason ____________
“Faking fine is easier and neater than admitting awful!”
I must press on further…Why?
Why is it so scary to admit that life is messy, our hearts are burdened and broken and for the love of all things holy, we have dishes and laundry stacked up to Timbuktu that isn’t washing itself?
Realistically, our spirits know that we are not alone in all of us. But, Satan is working overtime in the background planting infectious lies to keep us isolated and disconnected from the truth and one another.
God, in his very nature, is a relational God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). He created us to live in authentic community, with true heart connection, with one another. He made us to desire intimacy with others but we fight against it tooth and nail because society and Satan make us feel inadequate, unworthy and riddled with FEAR.
In an effort of self- preservation and protection, we put on our false “fines” and sit comfortably on the periphery of our own lives; safe, untouched and unseen.
What is True Friendship to Me
Ladies, lean in and listen up! Our souls are starving for authenticity and lasting connection. We are secretly longing for true friendship yet we are settling for convenience! But you know what? We are guilty!
There…I said it! We can point fingers all day long at everyone else but we play a vital role in the allowance and perpetuation of this vicious cycle that often makes us cringe and cry ourselves to sleep at night!
If we truly desire authentic, vulnerable connection with other women, we may have to put on our brave, big girl panties, and make the first move towards breaking the “I’m fine” mold and moving into a deeper connection with others. Our souls yearn to hear the words “me too” uttered back to us into existence. There is so much power in sharing a “me too” moment with another soul that “gets it” and has been there.
But, are we willing to go first?
Are we willing to embrace not being “fine” all the time?
Would you be willing to invite someone else into your untidy mess?
We cannot control others or the responses we receive but we can certainly begin with ourselves and commit to be the kind of friend that shows up and is willing to fight against the perfectly packaged, “I’m fine” phenomena.
The willingness to be vulnerable, is just one key to unlocking the beautiful possibilities for authentic heart and soul connection.
The other critical key is availability. Jesus is a perfect example of a life littered with one interruption after another. People were constantly vying for his time, attention and affection. But, never once was he too busy, annoyed or frustrated. His heart and hands were open and he invited others to come close and hold space together, without reservation or judgement.
Our availability to one another is as much a gift to the person as it is to ourselves. The Lord will work through our interactions with others to not only bless them but to transform us.
Our disconnected, manipulated virtual world of perfect pins and filtered Facebook posts needs more imperfect presence and an audacious willingness to squash “FINE” and give permission to be “FREE.”
Are You Willing to be Vulnerable?
Instead of viewing the next conversation as a “have to”, I challenge you to see it as a “get to”; an opportunity to connect deeply with another. God has given us people to love and influence but until we resist the urge to stay safely tucked away on our side of the fence, we will never fully experience friendship the way God intended it to be.
Ladies, when you are willing to be vulnerable with others and you freely hold the door open for others to be vulnerable in your presence, you are saying YES to having an encounter with Jesus! You never know how Jesus is going to use you to touch the life of another. Your honesty and courage may be just the catalysts that Christ uses to tear down the suffocating walls that encapsulate the heart of a sister.
We are not always privy to the details of someone’s life or the circumstances that plague their spirit. But, if we show up with available hearts and the willingness to be interrupted, the Lord is given free reign to begin a transformative work in our lives and in the lives of those we love.
I wonder what would happen if we allowed ourselves to be truly seen and we shared the honest to goodness pains and cries of our heart with one another?
Instead of “fine” we offered up our frustrations, fears and fragility?
Rather than opting for “fine,” we owned our insecurities, we rejected apathy and embraced the pain?
Would the world stop spinning or the walls come crashing down?
Maybe…just maybe…this is where meaningful connection is born.
I would love to hear what is true friendship to you?