Deep Friendships Are Hard
We all want them.
Friends who know the deepest parts of us. Who see past the smile and know by the inflection in our voice that our world is about to implode. We want someone to care enough to just show up when things are falling apart. We want those friendships that span decades and are woven into our stories without effort.
But they are hard. For some personality types they are especially difficult.
I recently read the definition of “ambivert” which is the clinical term for those with an equal introvert and extrovert personality. People who fall into this category can work a crowd, love a good party and thrive in social settings, but then they need to pull back and into their shell. They recharge by being alone and basking in quiet.
This is me.
Another characteristic of those who fall into this category is that they crave deep conversation. Listening to small talk is the irritating equivalent of nails on a chalkboard. We want something more, something deeper. But unless you find those people who are eager for the same thing, you are caught on the hamster wheel. Slowly spinning and constanly drawing others out. You ask questions and are met with dull, vague and lame responses. You are always the one to seek out the next coffee date, the next Skype session, and the newest text thread.
After a while you get tired of hearing “we should get together soon,” without ever seeing a date on the calendar. You are weary of waiting for the other person to open up, to pull off the mask, to share from somewhere a little deeper than what they just tweeted about or posted on Instagram. You want authentic relationship. And for the all the buzzing about community and vulnerability, it would seem that is what everyone else is craving too. Except they’re not.
What a lot of people want is just someone to make them feel better. They want the friend who can gush about the latest gossip, or find at the market. They want someone to tell them that they aren’t fat, are a good mom and that one day their kids will grow up to really love them. They want someone to make them feel better about their situation, not actually discuss it. They want someone to share from “their” greatest hurts so that they can feel better about their own.
For many years I felt surrounded by well-meaning people who desired a three-inch deep relationship. Meanwhile my heart was six feet under clawing it’s way toward something more life-giving. It craved the dirty parts of life. It wanted the mess and details and the raw feelings.
I believe someone reading these words is nodding away, perhaps with tears brimming (or streaming if you’re like me) and inside they’re waving a white hankie and shouting “hallelujah”. Because you get it. You want the deep stuff too. And friend, I’m here to tell you, it’s worth getting.
The friend that you can whine and complain with, and then pray, repent and move forward without fear of who may find out. A friend who won’t laugh or scoff at your larger than life dreams, and greatest fears. A true friend will hold up the mirror and tell you the truth in love: “Yes, you need to eat better”, “No, you’re not a horrible mother”, “Yes, you need to ask your husband for forgiveness”, “No, you don’t need to feel guilty about that,” and everything in between.
It’s worth finding those two or three people who know it all. Who know that you love Jesus even when you want to cuss everyone out, or you missed church three weeks in a row. They listen to the rants about your boss and know that deep down you know you’re blessed for the dream job that they gave you. They know you love your husband, even when he drives you crazy. Same goes for the kids.
They see you hustling a little too much and they tell you to check your heart. They hear you brush off words of affirmation and they look you in the eye way past the point of it being comfortable until you genuinely accept the things spoken over you. They recognize when you’re hurting and know that saying nothing is sometimes the best thing. They pray for you. Not just say that they will; they drop everything they’re doing in that moment and join with you.
If you already have them, consider yourself blessed. If you are still hunting, know that the pursuit is worth it. Continue to seek them out. Don’t be afraid to find them in a different church or across a border. Sometimes distance does marvelous things for friendship, because you simply don’t have precious time to waste on pleasantries.
Call them what you want: a tribe, a community, a squad. I just refer to them as friends.