“I do not wish to treat friendships daintily, but with the roughest of courage. When they are real, they are not glass threads or frost-work, but rather the solidest things we know.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
We toss the word “friendship” around loosely these days and in doing so we’ve cheapened it’s meaning. A lot of what we call friendships are merely connections.
Connections are those people whom you say you’ll get together with…and you do…six months later. They’re the people you probably won’t hear from unless you reach out to them or bump into them around town. Most of what they know about your life comes from Facebook and Instagram, and when someone asks them about you they’re response will likely be centered around what you do for a living.
Connections aren’t bad but I’m learning it’s dangerous to call them friendships.
Friendships are those people for whom you rearrange your calendar. They’re the ones who text or call just to share a funny or exciting story from their day. They’re the ones you text or call for the same reasons. They’re the ones who give you a hard time if they find out about a significant life event of yours on social media before hearing it from you directly, the ones who know the details of your life that are too sacred for social media. When someone asks them about you, they proudly share details about who you are and what you mean to them, not just what you do.
Friendships are hard to find. And they’re not so much waiting to be found as they are waiting to be built.
As I get older, I become more convinced that true friendships are relationships almost as sacred as a marriage and almost as hard to come by. Now, I’m not married and it’s a different kind of intimacy, but I know that any true relationship requires vulnerability and vulnerability in any context is hard work.
With the wisdom of hindsight, I realize that many relationships I thought were friendships were merely connections. Again, those connections aren’t bad but believing they were friendships left me failing to understand the value of actual friendships. Oftentimes, while I enjoyed the company of those connections, I felt like something was missing. That missing feeling left me hesitant to place too much value on friendship at all.
As my understanding of what friendship truly is deepens, I can honestly say that I have some of the first true friendships of my life now at the age of 29. Some of those friendships are a few years old now, and the older a friendship gets the more valuable and treasured it becomes. I can also say that for the first time in my life I understand the responsibility and gift of being a friend to others. It is not a role to be taken lightly.
I agreed to meet a couple of friends for lunch. We had discussed a 12pm-ish meeting time so I left my apartment accordingly. Halfway to the destination I received a text that is was going to be 12:30. Okay, I’ll go to the nearby park and knock out some emails on my phone. 12:30 came and went. 12:45 rolled around and one friend said she was almost there. So, I headed to the restaurant. Fifteen minutes later that friend actually showed up. And the other friend another 10 minutes after that. Can I tell you I was upset? I was not a happy camper and my friend could tell. She straight up told me I was unpleasant and almost cancelled lunch because of it. In the moment that made me more upset. But, we pushed through it and lunch was more than enjoyable.
As ugly as those interactions seem in the moment, in hindsight they are some of the most treasured & beautiful because they are moments when friendship is handled with the roughest of courage. In those moments we are reminded that true friends are safe, and that we are loved not in spite of our flaws but as our whole selves – flaws and all.
Oh how I treasure those relationships that I can treat with the roughest of courage. Even when I think the ground has been shaken, my friends quickly show me that our friendship is rock solid. It is grace and love in the flesh.