“When you think your life is falling apart, it’s usually falling together in disguise.”
― Charlotte Eriksson
She picks me up and we head to Piper’s barn. I’m so not in the mood to hang out with friends, much less slap on a smile and meet new people. I’ve been feeling un-fine for the last couple of weeks thanks to a total vulnerability hangover (We eights on the Enneagram will avoid vulnerability and lack of control at all costs). You know the kind, when you did or said something that reveals the deepest, most hidden parts of you. Like those secrets we keep under lock and key; we know what they are and we don’t want anyone else to know. And if any of it leaks, we want to be able to frame those bits and pieces behind carefully crafted words.
But two weeks ago, I didn’t have a choice, they saw the un-fine parts of me.
I suffer from migraines. And this last one as a doozy because at one point the idea of shoving an icepick through my brain sounded like a lovely idea. I finally fell asleep only to wake from a sleep-walking nightmare and friends helping to steri-stripping a deep gash in my leg and cleaning up blood in my kitchen and bathroom. Oh, it was such a mess. Such a moment of rawness and being so barefaced.
They saw the weakest parts of me.
And it made my heart heavy because I couldn’t take any of it back. Vulnerability hangovers suck. It leaves one reeling in the cycle:
What are they thinking?
Are they talking about me?
I am too much.
I am not enough.
But it’s been more than two weeks since that moment and I can’t hide behind my locked front door anymore. The horn honks in my driveway so I add a bit more lip-gloss and head outside.
And what I find is a warm and welcoming embrace. She smiles at me says none of us are fine all the time and it’s okay to be unfine.
How in the world could I know that one unfine moment could open up so much? How could I know that my not enough would be embraced as a full measure by her and the rest of our friends?
But that’s the point isn’t it? Friendships are built on gritty, messy, imperfect everyday moments. Friendship like this doesn’t happen overnight. And it reminds me what I tell my kids often, “The day you plant a seed is not the day you eat its fruit.” Friendship and community are like that.
It’s built on a series of 1,000 little everyday moments, taking the time to invest in someone else. It’s built on answering the phone at 2 a.m. when you’re already exhausted from a teething toddler or a teen who missed curfew. It’s built on showing up for 40th birthday parties, and Juice Plus events.
It’s strengthened with salsa and chips in an empty restaurant at 2 p.m. because she NEEDS to someone to listen to her about the pressure of carrying the world on her shoulders.
It’s sitting six feet apart in the backyard on a hot, humid with a pot of coffee on summer afternoon because you miss her but COVID is still jacking with social lives.
It’s leaving $100 tip on a $20 tab because you believe in your friend’s business and you see how much she poured her soul into that place.
It’s giving your friend extra room during Jazz because you know she has two left feet but you love working out beside her.
It’s reassuring your friend that just because she’s starting over in the trenches of motherhood, she won’t be left behind.
Be the friend who collects frozen meals and gift cards and drives 30 minutes one way to just drop it off, sight unseen because her family is in the process of mending their family from loss.
It’s built around Voxes about her dad that is an alcoholic and she doesn’t ever know what she’s going to find when she goes to check on him.
It’s built on storming heaven’s gates interceding with prayer because she’s in a battle she doesn’t have words to describe.
It happens over days and weeks and years of constantly investing in someone and making time for them. It’s a thousand little decisions to show up and be an extraordinary friend.
The sweet spot of friendship is unhusked in all of its glory after planting and tending to it day after day, in rain or drought.
My friend if you’re lonely, my best advice is to love yourself enough to be the friend you’ve always wanted—especially when you are unfine. Especially in the mess. This is the YOU they want and NEED.
They don’t want to see the best version of you. They don’t want the poise and carefully applied makeup. They want the real, bold, messy, frail, stubborn, muffin top woman who struggles with her kids and questions whether or not she’s actually 40 instead of still feeling like a 20-year-old.
And while I’m still learning these lessons, our new small Nebraska town is giving my kids a chance to plow the fields. We opened our doors for Halloween and my son was surrounded by kids who adored him. He and his crew left to roam the streets as a superhero tribe while my daughter had only one friend.
She is learning a handful of soul deep friends is better than a roomful. In between handing out candy and sharing inside jokes, they decorated our Christmas tree, filled up on sugar and telling each other secrets of their unfine middle school moments too.
Watching these two sit shoulder to shoulder with Tori’s blonde her and her friends fiery red blaze in the midnight light brings tears to my eyes because I know just how precious these moments are.
They’re treading sacred ground and don’t even know it.
And while my kids are still babies, discovering their place in the world, this is what I want them to know about God, friendship, and community.
22 Things I Want My Kids to Know About Friendship and Community.
- Surround yourselves with friends who care more about telling you the truth than making you feel good.
- Be the kind of friend who notices when it’s been a while since you’ve seen them and says things like, “hey I miss you; let’s get together this week.”
- Surround yourself with friends who are willing to look beyond and under the surface of the “busy,” “okay” and “fine.”
- Be the kind of friend who texts when you’re thinking about them and who buys them flowers or salsa and chips just because.
- Find friends who always leave a spot at the table for one more.
- Be the kind of friend who says how you feel about them and hugs and says “I love you.”
- Surround yourselves with friends who don’t fear and fret about who they are and what they do because of who you are and what you do.
- Be the kind of friend who isn’t afraid of struggles like depression, anxiety, and grief. Be the kind of friend who holds space for her people and is present in the pain. Be the one who says, “I FEEL YOU.”
- Be the kind of friend who prays, encourages, and surrounds yourself with others who are committed to this practice.
- Surround yourself with friends who care more about God’s opinion than yours.
- Be the kind of friend who is true to her word and who shows up when it matters—STERI strips and all.
- Be the kind of friend who assumes the best, not the worst.
- Be the kind of friend who will fight for your friendships like you’re in the ring fighting for your life. Because at some point you will find yourself stress paralyzed and wanting to shrink back from the world. You will find yourself choosing self-preservation over opening up. Be the friend who is willing to bang on the door and not accept no for answer.
- Be the friend who wants to sit on the front porch and laugh all night long about anything and nothing because it feels good just to hang out.
- Find friends who see your talent and cherish it. And then share that said talent with others. Yes, friends that support and brag about you!
- Surround yourselves with friends who can accept forgiveness and offer it.
- Surround yourselves with friends who will love you in and through your ugly and unfine moments. And Darling Dear, BE this person for others too.
- Surround yourselves with friends who desire to live in a transparent community with other believers.
- Surround yourselves with friends who have a desire to grow and they will push you to your max so you grow too.
- Surround yourselves with friends who are more concerned about reflecting Jesus than themselves.
- Be the friend who values vulnerability and being barefaced more than power.
- Surround yourselves with friends who will sharpen you, refine you, love you, and believe in you.
Darling, we live in a world where we feel so very isolated and lonely, especially in 2020.
How do we change that? We don’t over think it, we just begin.
We are not supposed to do this alone. As much as I want to guard my heart, my poise, my reputation and your impression of me, God made me for relationships.
And you know what, life works the best when I am real and the same goes for you. Always.
Listen to me, because this is so important: don’t wait one more second for that friend to show up in your life. Go and do it and be it.