By contributing writer Lisa:
The wind was bitingly cold as we lugged our suitcases up the stairs and around the walkway to our rooms. Our chilled fingers fumbled with the key cards in our haste to open the doors and escape into the shelter of our rooms.
I thought of my kids and husband, likely warm near the fire in the living room. Too soon to be missing me. Probably acting wild–crazed from skipped naps and extra sweets.
My thoughts did not linger with them long, though. This time away was a respite and I was more than ready to hole up in the hotel with a handful of old friends. Time and distance had kept us apart, but neither years nor miles could separate our hearts from each other.
True friendship has the power to span both.
We did manage to get out to explore the nearby mountain town. In between browsing the shops with no thought of what was breakable or who needed to potty next, we ate ALL.THE.FOODS.
Starting at a coffee shop in the morning for lattes, we also hit up a bakery, a fudge shop, a tea room, and an Italian restaurant. Oh, and we tried to make another coffee run on our way back, but had to settle for the hoards of junk food everyone had the foresight to bring along waiting for us in our rooms.
After the coloring pages were colored and all the 90’s pop songs were sung, we circled up on the two double beds. Pajama clad and tired, we were all still craving, still needing, a time to open our hearts to each other and lay it all out.
One by one, we went around the circle sharing how we could pray for each other. But they weren’t prayer requests like you see smattered all over Facebook– pray for my sick dog, pray for this interview, pray for me to make it to bedtime without a breakdown…
They were prayer requests which spring from the deep parts of our hearts. The parts which make us feel vulnerable and exposed. The parts which, once shared, leave no more room for false pretenses or attempts to make ourselves seem anything other than what we are– women in need of grace and mercy from our Great God.
That night we heard it all. Tales of marriages struggling and slowly becoming restored. Confessions of anxiety and fear about more moving, more job changes, more doubting. Mothers admitting that the uncharted territory they are entering leaves them feeling small and unsure. Worries about doing it all, not doing enough, or simply trying to figure out the difference. Stories of faith and church and community, and how all those things do not always work out as harmoniously as we’d like.
We cried. Oh, how we cried.
But we were heard. We were known. And we were loved.
Articles about personality types are all the rage and mom groups abound in recent years. And yet, if you ask (and receive an honest answer), so many of us still struggle deeply with loneliness. It’s as if the social media outlets, playdates, and mom’s meetings just are not enough.
It’s not a matter of being introverted or extroverted or ENTVQ. It’s about the need for community we were all created with. The community that says we are not alone. The community that reminds us that the very one who formed us is a God of community. Not of shallow conversations or likes and comments, but of heart-knowing, burden-bearing, joy-sharing community.
I have personally struggled with this in my life in recent years. And I still don’t have all the answers. What I do know, though, is that the longing I have for real friendship is valid and can’t be assuaged by telling myself that everyone is just too busy nowadays. That connecting like that was just a thing of the past.
I was reminded once again this weekend that friendship like this is not only possible, but that it forges your hearts together in a way that doesn’t go away easily.
If you want friendship like this, I want to encourage you not to give up!
Open-hearted friendship calls you to be brave. To risk being exposed. It is there for those who choose to give freely and to find their courage in the fact that their identity is not found in maintaining appearances, but in boldly claiming their weaknesses and wrapping themselves up in robes of beautiful grace.
The moment you take the risk and jump off, though, is the moment you find freedom.
We need more women who live brave, honest and open lives. We need friends who say, “Yes! I know what you are going through, because I’ve been there myself.”
Dear friends. Let’s be the community that we were created to be. Let this be the year of going there. Find those true friends. Be that kind of friend.
You won’t regret it.