Being vulnerable in relationships is hard. I have found making friends as an adult complicated. To expose yourself and all your STUFF when your life is already full of baggage, husband, children, and health issues, is just exhausting. What if these new people are not safe and I say too much and now they have something to hold against me and hurt me? What if I pour out my feelings and I just get blank stares? What if after investing time into this friendship and goes nowhere? That’s what being vulnerable is, isn’t it? Sharing the hard stuff, letting people in, and hope they take good care of your heart.
During and after our marriage trial, I protected myself and found it very hard to trust. Those friendships that were already established were an easy default. I knew I could trust them. There were friends, however, that did not weather our marriage storm too well, and abandoned ship when things got rough. I was devastated that those friends I thought would be there “no matter what”, chose to end a friendship when I needed them most. So I coiled in, built a fortress and hid. Trusting people in general after that was difficult for me to navigate. I didn’t trust my own discernment of good character after what I had been through in my marriage.
Slowly, as the months and years passed, I was open to new friendships. I still have a hard time with completely trusting. It’s a process, and as I grow more confident with discerning who the safe people are, it gets easier. That wound of betrayal will always be lurking in the background tempting me to be afraid. God is bigger than my fears. I’ve learned that God’s love is enough to cover the fears. There is no need to be afraid, but I still find myself holding back at times. Will I be hurt in the future? Probably. I’m learning to be okay with that.
I had an epiphany this summer in regards to my friendships. It was more me learning about myself and how closed up I still am, while at the same time, craving those authentic relationships. I want real relationships. I want my people. I learned that it’s okay for friendships to run their course and fizzle out. I’ve learned that some friendships are timeless and no matter where you left off or how much time has passed, you can always pick up where you left off. I’ve learned that growth happens when you are vulnerable and honest and real and raw. When you are brave enough to expose the deepest parts of yourself, God will meet you there and give you the strength to handle however the other person responds.
Just this week, I see the fruit of friendships in the making and growing.
- a friend who saw I needed prayer and stopped mid conversation to pray for me
- a friend who listened as I shared something personal about my family without blinking (phew!)
- a friend who takes the time to tell me what they appreciate about me
- a friend who gladly takes your children for the day when you have to go to the doctor
- a friend who reaches out and wants to support your mission
- a friend who shared that “it’s not cancer!” and we rejoice together
- a friend who sent a message of encouragement
- a friend who inspires me to keep writing and sharing
- a friend who is willing to sit with me in all my vulnerable mess and listen
This. This is why I keep opening up and being brave with my friendships. It’s not always easy or a smooth process, but it’s worth it. This was all this week, all with different people. The joys are so much sweeter and struggles are so much lighter when shared with friends.