We all have an innate, built-in desire to have intimate relationships with other people. Real relationships can be messy and require a personal risk. We have to be willing to be vulnerable and transparent in order to be fully known and to fully know someone else. It also takes time and the intention to have deep relationships with others. I think that, as moms, this can be a challenge. In our world today, it is easy to just look on social media and assume that we “know” someone, yet the reality is that what is seen on our screens isn’t really truth. Most of the time, it is just what the person wants us to see.
Generally speaking, I am an introvert. I have grown through the years and become more social, but I still get my energy from alone time. Growing up, I had close friendships with several people my age because we were together almost daily, face to face. As we got older and moved to other places, each of us went in different directions and our friendships just kinda dissolved. As I came into adulthood, I found myself lacking any deep connections with others; it was hard to find “true” friends. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of acquaintances: college friends, work friends, church friends, other mom friends, etc. But these were just shallow connections. The few times that I allowed people to get close and get to know the “real” me, I ended up being hurt. They shared my secrets with others, talked behind my back, or told me I was not approachable and too confrontational. Because of these negatives encounters, I decided the safest and easiest way to avoid having that happen again would be to isolate myself and have only acquaintances. However, I soon learned that we are not made to isolate ourselves or be alone. We were created for community. Isolation only breeds unhealthy habits and negative thinking.
As I continued to grow and mature, I realized I needed real, true friends. However, with this realization came the realization of just how hard it was to find true friends! Most people just wanted to be what I call “fake friends,” with all interactions being just general small talk. I do not have time to spend wondering if someone likes me or just tolerates me. Or just spending my time talking about the weather and other superficial topics. Life is too short.
I longed for someone I could call and talk to when I was having a horrible day, when life sucked; for someone who saw my flaws, but still wanted to hang out! I needed real advice, someone to cry with me through the good and the bad, someone who could look beyond my “prickly” exterior and still want to hang out. At the same time, I wanted to be these things to someone else! I wasn’t looking for a one-sided relationship, but one where we could be there for each other. I was wanting to find another woman who I could relate to, and we could grow together and learn from each other. I mean is this too much to ask? Am I the only one who longs for this?
It has taken years to get to this place. A place were I admitted to myself that I was done with fake friendships, didn’t have time for pretending, and didn’t care what others think of me. Being vulnerable and transparent isn’t easy and is often painful, but when we allow ourselves to be fully known, we can finally be open to “real” relationships. I know there will be bumps along the way; I mean, I am not everybody’s cup of tea, you know? There have been times when certain people have walked away or left my circle because we want different things (and that is ok). BUT I have found a few people who I can be real and honest with, and that has truly brought a positive light back into my world.
Things I have learned that I need in friendships:
- Honesty – both to be able to give and receive the truth, in love
- Transparency – being real, letting others see my flaws (and vice versa), and accepting these no matter what
- Vulnerability – letting them be there for me on my worst days either by texting or calling them and being there for them, even when it isn’t convenient for me
- Time – spending quality time with them; it takes time to deepen relationships, and sometimes this means being selfish and taking “Me” time away from my kids so I can connect with my adult friends
- Unconditional acceptance/love – knowing that no matter what they will accept me (flaws and all) and not run away at the first sighting of my “crazy” side
I feel that, in today’s busy world, some of these things are hard to come by. People are so over-worked, over-scheduled, and over-committed, that meaningful friendships sometimes get lost in the shuffle. Yet in my longing for deeper connections, I have strived to be the type of friend that I am needing, in the hopes that others will want to reciprocate.
May you be blessed enough to find those deep friendships that truly minister to your soul. I believe that by finding this type of community, it can make us better women and mothers. We can only give out what we have allowed to fill up inside of us.