Over the past few months I’ve had this “picture” pop up in my head a few times: Two friends (walking or standing) content to have found friendship in each other, trusting the other… the part that stands out is the fact that these friend’s elbows are interlocked.
Stop for a minute and think about that.
When was the last time you stood next to a friend, and simply just stood there, interlocked at the elbows? Was it at a wedding? Was it your sister? Your best buddy? How old were you? 5? 37? Were you laughing? Smiling? Crying? Was it comfortable? Uncomfortable? Too close for comfort?
Or would allowing someone to get that close be considered “invading your personal space”? That’s me. I have a great need for my own personal space. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I consider you a uniquely special individual if you are allowed into my personal space. For your own personal reference, my personal space consists of a 3 foot circumference all the way around me. I realize that makes me sound like a jerk. I apologize in advance. And I’m working on that.
Can you tell I’m a little protective of my personal space?
Well, this “picture” keeps coming back to me. And I’m still not sure what it is supposed to mean. Is there some deep personal meaning I should be taking from this? If I could for a minute, let me give you a little background… I’m a tom-boy. I remember that as a kid I would have much rather played outside (or played board games or created something) instead of “playing dolls” or “dress up” or pretending to be a princess. That said, I had more BOY friends than GIRL friends. I can count on 1 hand the number of girl friends I had growing up. And admittedly, I cannot recall if I ever locked elbows with any of these friends. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun times with friends. Look at my childhood and teenage pictures and you’ll see I enjoyed time with my friends. There were a lot of good memories. But… the elbows? Really?! That’s just too close! So what does this reoccurring “picture” mean? I’m not sure. Is it a sign that I need to have more close girl friends? Maybe. Is it a sign that my friendships would benefit from more intimacy? Maybe. Is it a sign that my soul is hungry for more of these friendships? Maybe.
First time this “picture” hit me:
It is about a friend I will refer to as “Christie” – she knows who she is. We’ve known each other for a couple of years. We’ve enjoyed a fun road trip together with other girlfriends. We’ve laughed and cried and gotten in trouble together. We get each other’s odd (and sometimes rude) sense of humor (admittedly, that’s kinda scary). I was looking forward to spending time with her one weekend, several months back. Since then we have started a weekly (almost) Bible study. Have we yet walked around with locked elbows? No. But I would say we have established a great friendship. I would do anything for her. I told her about the “picture”. At least I tried. I stood there in front of her, attempting to explain. Then, in a moment of wondering if she was understanding me, I grabbed her arm and locked elbows (as if physically showing her was going to make her see the same picture?!). She looked at me weird.
Second time seeing this “picture”
I think it just happened in passing. I cannot recall that there was any friend in mind, specifically. But there it was again. What is the meaning of this picture???
Third time seeing this “picture”
When running into someone I would call an “acquaintance”, I will call her by her initials “A.P.” My friend – I believe you will know who you are when reading this description: We’ve only spoken a handful of times, at church. I’m an avid reader of her blog. From what I can tell, her blogging policy is “complete transparency” (which I LOOOOVE). She shares her hopes, dreams, disappointments, greatest joys, etc. Her writing is very candid – which is so inspiring! Her regular posts have made me laugh and cry.
But are we “close”? No. So why did I see that picture again? I don’t know. Do I feel a connection with her tied to her blogging transparency? Maybe. Is that weird? Maybe. Is it meant for she and I to spend more time together? Maybe. Does this indicate that I have a hunger for transparency? Maybe.
Epiphany Then it all came together when @revchico asked: “Some ideas satisfy the mind but not the soul and soon become obsolete. What is your soul thinking about today?”
Without even stopping to think about it this is my response: “That longing to have close personal relationships with Christ and other Christians. To be true and honest and vulnerable and supportive and full of grace towards our family in Christ.”
But let me expound on that a bit more, if I might: That answer doesn’t even touch the surface of why my soul is thinking about. I want so much more than that. I want true community. (After all, we were made for community.) I am longing for true ‘til-the-day-I-die relationships. I am longing for friendships that are loving, supportive and forgiving. I am praying for TRUE godly friendships… where we can support each other, hold each other accountable (without hurt feelings), serve each other, enjoy a good belly-laugh with each other and simply sit in silence together. I long for friendships where we can cry together, be mad together (if the occasion calls for it), go to bat for each other and celebrate life together. I want us to grow together, become better friends and individuals because of each other, and live life together.
Ideally I would like the absence of religious beliefs. I would want the absence of judgmental attitudes. I want the absence of mistrust. I want the absence of past hurts haunting our futures together and individually.
More than anything I recognize that I need to get out of my own way and just be sincere and true and authentic. And what a thing to ask of my friends (and myself): to be sincere and true and authentic. Talk about trust… what a humbling thought. After all, I have often failed at this. Why would anyone trust me enough to be vulnerable with me?!
All we can do, each of us, is take the first step…
Walk with me? Tell me about yourself, your dreams, your fears, your hurts, your joys… and please bear with me. I might mess up at some point. And because of that I’m going to need your support and love and forgiveness.
Who’s with me?
EDITOR’S NOTE: In response to the above blog a friend asked “But some of the things you want absent are the very things that make us who we really are ;-)” So let’s take another look at what I said: “I want the absence of religious beliefs. I want the absence of judgmental attitudes. I want the absence of mistrust. I want the absence of past hurts haunting our futures together and individually.” So to my friend who asks the good questions: I completely agree, 100%!!! I guess instead of sharing the “What I don’t want…” message what I should have said is more like this: “Even if we still fall into our ‘resounding religious beliefs’, revert to our judgmental attitudes, fall into our patterns of mistrust or even by allowing past hurts to haunt our futures together… let’s support each other to be healthier, more trusting, more forgiving individuals/family members/friends. We’re still going to fail. And when that happens we’re still going to need good friends by our side.”