You know what one of the best feelings in the world is?
It’s being around people who really know you – all the little things that make you, you are known and appreciated. And not just that, but you know them too.
It’s being around my people. This past week I got to spend some quality time with 2 of my people.
And, at the risk of bragging on them (which I promised I’d try no to do) it was so wonderful I almost couldn’t stand it!
These two ladies are
my roommates girls I roomed with in college. It’s a bit confusing when we refer to each other as roommates since we live in different cities and one of them is married.
Some folks would look at the fact that we lived together at a small, Christian university and say it was simply a really unique situation where friendship is easily fostered. And we would say, “HA!”. This person must not have had many roomies. Roommate does not always nor easily = friend.
Not everyone spends a year and half being roommates and comes out maintaining a solid friendship in which their lives are separated by a few states and yet are inexplicably linked. I used to hesitate when I said these were most closest friends, my community…as if it was wrong to say or to feel this.
I’ve been shown that continuing to grow in my friendship with these two isn’t forsaking local community. Rather, staying closest to these two have made me better in my local community.
So, a week together in December was our plan starting in July. We consider carving out time together at least once a year very serious business.
After some snow issues on my end and a flight reschedule….*wa waaaa* 😦 ….I was on my way.
I was so giddy on that little flight to Birmingham where I’d meet up with the fiery-people lovin’-Alabaman roomie and drive 3 hours with her to Atlanta where we’d pick up our 3rd, the most beautiful brainiac you’ve ever met. From there, the 3 of us would hop right into a car and drive up into North Carolina (driving over the mountains on roads fit for the goats was not my favorite part). We’d rented this cabin away from everything and were so pumped to not have any schedules governing the way we spent our time.
At this cabin, we breathed easier. We were able to recognize how we don’t function as our best selves without sleep or without lingering meals full of foods that nourish our bodies and our souls. I knew in my heart that I’ve been living this sort of “I can do it all without ‘laziness’ and just get my stuff done. I’m a dependable machine.” Through God’s gracious gifts of these friends and this beautiful space with it’s air smelling of fresh, cold water and pine needles, I was able to admit that’s a lie and a very soulless existence. I’m not a machine after all…who knew?
Here, we were able to say the things we’d been needing to say for a long time. The things we didn’t even know needed saying until we were together. Those statements usually start with, “Ya know y’all, I wouldn’t say this to anyone else, but….”. And right along with that, we each heard some things that we’ve needed to hear for some time. Those words that only count when they come from a person who’s long earned the insight it takes to mean them.
This all sounds comfortable, yes but, vulnerable too. Their opinions really matter to me. This allowing-people-who-really-matter-to see-you, I hope this for you.
It’s vulnerable to allow yourself the satisfaction of being really seen and heard by people who know when you’re being real and when you’re…not.
Being really known by my people means they know when I’m talking about a subject that makes me uncomfortable. They know these subjects can be anything that I start talking long about. I start to feel like one of those awful know-it-alls so I start to run my fingers over my arm or to ball up my fists and rub them together. These are weird things I didn’t even notice about myself, but my people do.
We brought food and books and books and more books. We had long talks about the early church, about Night for Freedom, about nothing important, about Union, about marriage, about “secular” knowledge and it’s connection to the Church.
When we weren’t eating and doing all this talking…we were just sitting in the living room around the fire. At one of these points, Jenny looks up from her current book and say, “I love that we can be together and do nothing.”
That might be the best part of this gift of friendship. There are not expectations of business or performance or achievement. There is nothing we have to do, we just get to be. It’s the same feeling I get when coming up out of a deep pool of water and taking that first, big breath.
I hope for you that this genuine friendship and vulnerability is found, both inside and outside of your designated small groups.
These friends, sisters, they show me on the regular that the “weakness” of being tender-hearted, gentle and “needing a thicker skin” is a lie.
They show me how strength is found not in developing a tough exterior and blocking out the pain, but in taking all of it in, laying it all down, feeling deeply and carrying on. Because anyone can be tough, but the brave are hopeful. They helped me to not believe the lie that being “tough” is being impenetrable. that being genuine is really love. And this Love is who overcomes the evil with goodness.
Truth. They speak it and see it and want more of it.
This is why I love them. Because their love is genuine enough for them to speak truth to me.
It’s the foundation of our friendship.
Love never negates truth. Because love never silences Truth.
Love is the very foundation of Truth: without love, truth clangs like a gong.
Their truth is a gift.
This gift didn’t drop on our doorsteps, although we were given a little box of a dorm room to get to know each other in.
You know what we discovered? We’re insanely different. We are a combination of loud, quiet, passionate, contemplative, intellectuals, do-ers, dreamers and say-ers. We love (and/or aren’t for) man-food, romantic comedies, historical fiction, farmer’s markets, college football, the Amish and manicures.
A year and a half in, I had JUST fully let them into my life. And then they both transferred to other schools.
The friendship was something the 3 of us developed over time. Over years of shared experiences and real-deal conversations (they’re both about as awful at small talk as I am).
This thing we call friendship works because of Truth.
Truth conquers the fear. The fear that keeps us too scared to reach out to that person. Fear that if we do, we’ll be discovered for who we really are. Turns out, that’s not such a bad thing.
So what if they see you with all your hang ups?
What if you really see them?
What if you just love the person genuinely?
Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.
:: C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves ::
This place called friendship is so known to me and I am so known here. I get homesick for that feeling of being really known sometimes. It’s a little like Heaven that way. See, Heaven is the place where we are surrounded the most Love, the best feeling of being truly known—and it is not just me they’ll know and love most, but this is why it will be the safest place of all.
It will be a while until we’ll all 3 be together and we’re a long way apart in miles, but there’s nothing that beats being able to share life with people who really know you and really love you all the same.