I thrive on deep conversations.
Surface level is not my comfort; in fact, it’s one of the most unsettling places I know.
After all, we can no longer be strangers when we live authentic lives in the presence of others, and if there’s one thing I have wanted since I was a toddler, it was to meet people. To erase the word ‘stranger’ and replace with ‘friend’.
When living on the East Coast, it took me almost two years to realize 95% of my friendships were still at the surface. They lacked the vulnerable depth of letting one another in. The crazy thing is, this girl from Texas didn’t notice right away. Or even after a few months.
It took over a year to see that relationships looked quite different on the other side of the country.
I need to be clear that the people I was surrounded by were good, diverse, thoughtful and for the most part – kind and compassionate. The caveat being that they were opposite from what I was used to, and while I entered into my life there knowing things would be much different and making allowances for it, I didn’t realize that being left alone and the lack of intentional involvement in one another’s lives would be so stark.
You see, us Southern born folk don’t leave anything in the wind for long. We meet someone new or bring someone into our lives, we want to know them as deep and true as possible. We want unassuming, depth of sincerity and openness almost to the point of a lack of boundary. I know that can be off-putting, forceful at times and intrusive. I admit all of those are highly likely, but they come for a heartfelt place of wanting you to know you’re valued and we believe you’re worth knowing. So one cup of tea or coffee and one slice of pie later, we could practically start going to each other’s family reunions and walk into one another’s homes without knocking.
That is not the only way to be, and honestly, probably not always the best way to be. The flip side of the East is they leave you to yourself and allow you to offer what you want, when you want – never intrusive albeit seemingly uninterested (in the same sense that the South is seemingly overbearing). Yet the contrast of being immersed in a culture of people who love well, but who love very differently took me by more of a surprise. I think because when I didn’t notice it right away, I told myself “Oh, well there’s no culture shock here. They’re the same, maybe just not used to my loud nature so let’s scale that back a little and we’re good.”
But almost a year and a half later, sitting in the woods, looking out at the river deep in New Hampshire (where we gathered for our yearly camping excursion) – it hit me hard and sharp. I didn’t know them as well as I thought, and if they knew me, I think it was becoming a bit too tiresome – my personality and way of life rubbing them a little worse for the wear.
Some of these people are solely responsible for my happiness for the 3 years of life in Massachusetts. They brought me in and named me wanted and family. They let me live in their homes and told me stories. They prayed over me and laughed with me. They let me cry and wonder. They validated my perspectives and gave me grace for my shortcomings. Some kept me afloat when I ran out of pennies to rub together. Some kept me sane when bricks were crashing around.
Most were older than I, yet I considered us friends, siblings, people I would chose out of millions to sail through rough waters.
Those closer to my age were gifts as well. I don’t mean any of this to speak ill or diminish the countless ways I cherished their presence or valued their character.
What I mean by starting this dialogue is that community is hard – when you least expect it. You think it have it figured out and you think you’re in the clear when all of a sudden there’s the moment of dismissal or confusion or just plain tired of pretending.
It’s the ebb and flow of being alive in a world of others.
In spaces where everyone is fractured, you’ll find many broken edges and sharp pangs.
The older I become, the more I realize what is or is not worth spending my energy recounting. The more I realize the beauty where it existed, without demanding it be all good memories and no bad can exist among them or else it wasn’t real.
The more I mature, I realize my life’s pursuit was never meant to involve convincing others to see me – to accept me – to be perfect for me so I could be perfect for them. What a wash – spending days that way. It’s fair to no one, least of all myself.
We are meant to glide gracefully through the seasons of one another’s lives.
We are not promised duration in our friendships and relationships. The worst and the best of this life determines our experiences but does not determine our perspective and action.
There are those who seamlessly fell away after I moved. Perhaps relieved for the ability to let distance and time take its course. Perhaps that worked both ways.
There are also those who kept involved. Not regularly because we have families and jobs and lives that prevent regular verbal or written connection, but that’s the truthfulness of it all – it wasn’t required to still preserve an honest connection and maintenance of genuine support and care for one another.
If I can be honest -the sustaining outcome or lack thereof does not mean that those who have fallen away were not authentic at the time. It doesn’t destroy the game nights, the deep discussions, the side-splitting laughter, the tears, the conferences, the serving alongside one another, the reliance on the Spirit for our own survival, let alone our relationship’s.
Duration does not dictate sincere connection.
I long to live a life that invites the unveiling of soul and the dismantling of pretense. I spend my days praying for Him to do such work in me.
What do you long for? What life are you venturing to live? I hope you’ll be brave and leave a comment. I want to encourage you in your journey. I know the value and profit of being surrounded in support. Allow me, allow others, to do so for you.
**In keeping with sharing love and life with others, remember the give-away in effect this week. My first was revealed on Saturday, and the drawing will be this coming Friday. You have plenty of time to get in the drawing many times, and inviting others to do the same. Head over to the post to learn how to participate.