Saturday, June 7, 2014

On Friendship & Vulnerability

"Friendship is acting out God's love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other's lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God's love for them." — Shauna Niequist
If there’s one thing that I’ve been learning a lot about this year, it’s friendship. To some, the word “friendship” comes with feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and distrust. For those who have been blessed with healthy and vibrant friendships, this word has thankfully taken on a more positive connotation.

I, for one, have always struggled with the concept of friendship. Growing up, I had a handful of friends, but soon enough, after moving from one school to another or just losing touch, these relationships started to dissipate, as quickly as they started to form. I can’t even begin to count the number of friendship rings, bracelets, necklaces, etc. that I have given away by now to countless best friends throughout the years. Over time, I would find myself left with the other half of the friendship ring or the bracelet or the necklace, with my “best friend” nowhere to be found. This repetitive pattern of getting close to someone only to find them move on with their lives without me was painful, to say the least.

Perhaps this pain accounts for why I have now become very wary of labeling anyone as “my best friend.” This glorified title  this string of words  left a bad taste in my mouth. In high school, I didn’t dare dub anybody my best friend. It wasn’t until coming to college that I had to come face-to-face with my fear of allowing people to get close again, to see past the fa├žade of perfection that I had so successfully built my entire image around.

I’ve had to do a lot of reevaluating since then. I’ve had to take a good, hard look at myself and ask myself if the people I call my friends are building me up and allowing me space to grow, or tearing me down and making me feel small. In turn, am I being life-giving in my friendships? Am I allowing people the freedom to be fully themselves with me?

This process has been one of the most difficult undertakings of my barely budding adult life, but it has also been one of the bravest decisions I have ever made. There’s a lot of pain involved, and a whole lot of vulnerability, mixed with an overwhelming amount of honesty. I am finding that those who choose to stick with me no matter the cost are worth every hard conversation, every awkward silence, and every difficult question that often comes as a result of taking off our masks and finally being real with ourselves.

I’m slowly opening up to this, though not without a considerable amount of caution. I am learning that friendship isn’t exactly safe. Love isn’t exactly safe. But it is absolutely worth it. 

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