When A Best Friend Is Hard To Find
I want real friends. I desire to be surrounded by authentic, brave and vulnerable people. I want to create thriving relationships that breathe life into my heart, mind, and soul. I’m sure this doesn’t come as a surprise to you; I’ve wrote about this before.
Earlier this year I had a close friend move away. You can read more about that here. It was just a few states away, but it may as well have been the other side of the world. About the same time, I started to recognize that many of my other friends were satisfied with “shallow,” while I was craving depth.
Lately, I’ve noticed that the one person that I talk to the most regularly, about life and writing, motherhood and marriage, and most of all Jesus— is a girl I met on the internet. About two years ago we fell into a forum conversation that led to emails, and then text conversations, and now I “talk” to her almost daily. Actually, if I haven’t heard from her in two or three days I get a bit concerned.
The funny part is that I’ve only spent about three days with her face-to-face. In total. During that time I had to share her with another roommate and several hundred other women at the conference we were attending. But she pushed me. And I loved that. She got under my skin— in a good way. She made me really evaluate myself, what I was thinking, not just saying. I didn’t have to filter my words around her, which was freeing, but I also chose them wisely because I felt that I was giving her a gift and I wanted to present her with the best version possible. She took my soapbox rantings like a champ. She prayed with fervency. We gave each other space to process and didn’t feel the need to qualify our answers.
She isn’t upset when life gets busy and it takes me two days to respond to her question. She asks me the hard questions and also gives me the hard truth. She doesn’t water down her advice, but comes at me straight. She champions me and believes in me (probably more than I believe in myself). She is typically the first person I share my words with, and the first one I go to when I need to work out new ideas.
She understands the challenges of working for a church, so I never have to explain that I still love Jesus even when I complain about “church life”. She is my safe person to share the good and bad. She also picks up on the ugliness of my heart, even through texts, and has no qualms pointing it out to me. She allows me to process questions without requiring an answer right away. Her friendship has become the living, breathing promise of Proverbs 27:17: “as iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens [and influences] another [through discussion]” (Amplified Version).
I am so glad that I had the courage to throw some random musings into an online forum, and that she was bold enough to respond to me with encouragement and grace. Because a couple of years, and thousands of text conversations later, I have come to understand what true friendship is supposed to look like.
I hope that you’ve found at least one friend who falls into this category. For me, it’s taken years of hearing words like, “you’re just so intimidating, Malinda,” or “I just don’t make friends well with other women,” or “yeah, let’s grab coffee” (but then that person can never commit to a date). I have lost count of how many times my husband has held me while I weep over feeling alone, misunderstood, and like I’m “too much” for the women in my life. It’s been a long, uphill road.
And I still long for the friend who lives next door that will run over with a cup of sugar while I’m in the midst of Thanksgiving prep and stranded at home. I continue to pray for strong women who attend the same church who are able to handle true vulnerability. And not just handle my moments of ugly crying, but brave enough to drop the mask and admit when they have their own hurts, frustrations, and questions. That day is not today, but I believe it’s coming.
And friend, I believe it is coming for you too.
Because I honestly believe that there are more of us out there who are still looking for the friend who will let us be our true self. The one who allows us to complain, and then gives us the pep talk we really need. The friend who lets us cry, and spill all the ugly parts of our marriage and finances and insecurities over our weight, parenting abilities, and career woes, and loves us even more. Not just loving and “praying for you” from afar, but the love that shows up on my couch, and the floor in my kitchen, and in a parked car in the driveway— because the coffee and pie conversation isn’t over three hours later.
Whether you’ve found your golden girls, or feel like you’ll never find anyone who understands you, please know, you are not alone. It took me choosing to be brave, be vulnerable, and having to often make the first move to find those who I would now consider life-long friends.
Keep trying; I believe they are out there waiting to be found. And I promise, they are worth discovering.