Can we be friends?

What does that statement do for you emotionally? My guess is, if you are like me, it creates a sense of internal angst or awkwardness. Becoming friends is usually very different than asking to be friends. There is an oddity in the later that most consider unnatural. However, today I want to face this notion with some measured thinking. To actually state what we want is to operate from the standpoint of vulnerability and that is an uncomfortable placement for most everyone. We love the euphoria that comes from the magical, if it isn’t magical then it isn’t worth having. I believe this notion is derived from our media saturated mindset. Don’t get me wrong, I like everyone else, love to have those “meant to be” moments, but in all reality, we need to balance the big screen with the actual commonalities of living.

Asking for what we need is an act of courage and to think that we would feel shame or embarrassment in the attempt, just increases the need for bravery. Feeling like we are going to be rejected keeps many of us frozen in our immobile state. Stated intentions, surprisingly enough, are very helpful in regard to relational comfort. Having an unsettled, uneasiness about what someone really wants IS awkward. The clarification is courageous because it lays the foundation for a decision. Otherwise, there is a prolonged, undefined relatability that feels fleeting or fragile or without substance and that idealism doesn’t encourage any real investment from anyone. The nebulous is awkward.

Stated intention is not equivalent to social awkwardness, we need to readjust our mindset in that regard. The magical idea of “wanting it to happen” is enticing, for a while, but when there are no words, that idea can easily go away as quickly as it appeared and no one wants to give themselves fully to that which has no sense of commitment. I am sure that there are numerous individuals who have taken the momentary offerings, absent of words, only to be hurt by the fact that there was nothing more to undergird but a hollow interaction. I’ve had those instances, risking with hope of substance to find that it was nothing more than an moment of fun with no real lasting intention. We become accustomed to relating this way because no one states their intention, stated intentions are binding, even for short term interactions, and our need to avoid discussions of acceptance or rejection (conflict avoidance) is so important that those risks are never taken or assumed. In affect, we all go about life wondering if there are friends to be had. I’ve often heard the statement, “If you have one good friend, you are blessed“, I believe that statement is based on the scenario described above. It is rare to meet someone who is vulnerable and wants to responsibly interact with loving respect and intention. I’m not shaming, literally the demands of life dictate what a person is capable of relationally contributing. Most individuals are engaged in family first, which is a notion that is completely understandable, but the voids are felt none the less.

The seasons where I connected most were in circumstances of necessity. Do I want to return to those seasons? Not particularly but I did learn a good bit through the process. I built relationships that lasted for a significant season based on an undeniable need. Crisis brought us to the same place, at the same time and no one was too pious to claim they did not need the support of the other. The so-called, “Fox hole” moments of our existence have an unusual way of bonding and those ties are not easily broken. Just ask veterans who have been through instances of distress, the value and appreciation they have for those who huddled with them throughout the storm is immeasurable. It’s sad that those are often the circumstances which create the most meaningful and lasting relational unions but honestly, no one takes the time otherwise. Relational interactions aren’t prioritized or considered that important. If anyone really took the time to stop and consider what is missing, I am convinced that most are oblivious to their lack. The joy that accompanies real relating is an irreplaceable component of life. C.S. Lewis said, “we settle for making mud pies in a slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.

Friendships of value are hard to come by and the necessity of such is not really optional, we just live within the void of unawareness. The absence is deadening to both the spirit and the soul. Therefore, in my estimation, the courage to intentionally invest is a component of our health and to ignore our need to belong is disheartening. Be courageous in your relationships, even when it hurts, you won’t regret the attempt.

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