She and I first met around 15 years ago. Our boyfriends at the time (now our husbands) shared an apartment with a group of guys. Over the next few years, we saw each other at random times. We'd briefly cross paths at the apartment. At my wedding to my husband, and then her wedding to hers. We sat beside each other, holding our baby girls, as we watched our husbands stand beside their friend at his wedding. Fast forward several more years and we were standing by the soccer field, watching our husbands coach our older children and keeping close eyes on our younger children as they passed the time playing. We talked about mothering small children and the adventures of watching them grow up and the insecurities and fears that plagued us as women and wives and mothers. Time continued to pass. Seasons changed. And we'd continue to float on the outskirts of each others' lives, running into each other here and there. A quick, hushed conversation in an aisle at Walmart on advice about birth control. Later, another brief and desperate Walmart aisle conversation about a devastating diagnosis for her son, with promises to pray, hearts full of pain and eyes burning with unshed tears. Each time we would leave a little bit more of our hearts with each other as we walked away.
It can be difficult making friends. It is scary building up the nerve to approach someone to build a relationship, and even more terrifying to show your "real" self to them. But here's the truth, none of us, not one, has our act together all of the time. The idea that there is a perfect life or a perfect Christian or perfect wife, mother, or friend is a lie. Even in the church, there is this pervasive lie that we always have to have it all together. We dress our very best and try to be the most beautiful or fit or have the best behaved children. We have to pretend like our marriages are great and we aren't struggling financially and we didn't just have a huge argument and yell at the kids on the way to church. While this may help us look shiny and make a good impression, it destroys the potential for real relationship with fellow believers. And it causes those like me who have real life hard issues to think twice before revealing our hurts and struggles and pain. And then, like in my own situation, a family falls completely apart and nobody saw it coming.
People were made, created, for relationship. And the burden of perfection destroys relationship. I'm not saying we need to go around spilling out our crazy to any and everyone who will listen. Don't do that. Please. But what I am saying is that we all need 1 or a few people in our lives who we can share our crazy with, who we know without a doubt won't walk away. We need someone who will come to us in our crazy and love us through it, who we can send a text to that says, "I'm about to lose it" and know without a shadow of a doubt that they will begin praying for us. And we need to be that person to them as well. In order to do that, we have to be willing to look straight into their hurt, right into their tear-filled eyes, and not look away. Because that's what we need from them.
Around a year ago, we found ourselves sitting across the table from each other. A few texts had gone back and forth revealing a major need. I had invited her to dinner, expecting her to say no but hoping I was wrong. I am an introvert and she is ten times more. But she had said yes. We prayed, we talked, we ate a little, we cried. And God used us both to fill a deep need in each other that had been there a very long time. We walked away from dinner that night, but continued to hold on to our friendship with a desperation that surprised both of us. We need each other. We share in each others' ups and also downs, laughing and crying and praying over coffee and doughnuts at our now regular dinners. We know that we can be honest and real and raw with each other. And we know that neither of us will walk away. Because we both have looked, unwavering and unblinking, into each others' hurts and ugly "hot mess" times. And we both still show up at that table.
That kind of relationship breathes life into every one of our souls which have been created for real, honest connection. And we all, every one of us, needs one like it!