You Too

Twenty years ago, I attended a retreat and this very engaging girl and I chatted over
lunch. Approachable and curious, she was delightful. As we spoke about our lives, we
kept saying, “Me too!!” for our kids were the same ages, we had been born in the same
state on the other side of the country, had married our first real boyfriend who we’d met
in college and the similarities seemed to have no end. We’re readers and learners and
writers…it seemed like we were sisters separated at birth.

A friend like Beth is a rare find, but friendships aren’t only built on multiple samenesses.
Our differences can be very invigorating and fuel a friendship to last a lifetime. I find it
very interesting to learn about new hobbies and interests through a friend or hear a
perspective that is completely different from my own. To only befriend those who are like
us can be very stultifying. And frankly, not very interesting!

We each have different criteria for a friend, but I think foremost – whether we’re alike or
not – is that they create a space for us. I wonder if you might be able to say “Me too!” as
you read this. I need friends who, when they ask how I’m doing, really stop and listen to
my answer. Even better, ask follow-up questions, listen to what I’m not saying through
words but through my expressions and body language. Have you ever had it where
you’d like to talk but the topic is still a little tangled up in your mind and you could use
someone else to help you with the mess? Me too! Sometimes I don’t know how or
where to start, but a loving friend might know, and I need her to nudge me along.

Or how about this: have you ever felt disappointed or shocked at your humanity and
didn’t really want to share your story (even with a trusted friend) because you’re afraid
you’ll be judged or scolded? Or maybe that even verbalizing it is too scary? Me too! The
threat of relational exile is a real fear for many of us so instead, we choose the facade of
having it all together.

What we all need from our true friends is not just similarities – though those are lovely –
but a space where we can be authentic, loved for who we are, and affirmed in our value.
We’ve all heard the cliché, “in order to have a friend, we must be a friend.” It may be trite
but much of it is true. I would suggest that it doesn’t go far enough. Sometimes the girl
who is an excellent friend to others isn’t afforded the same investment back. In fact, that
girl may be so accustomed to being the supportive friend that it’s hard for her to hold the
same love directed at her. Lean in on this one; it’ll take a little patience and practice, but
she’ll get it. She needs your help. Been on either side of this? Me too!

Can we be on the lookout for those nuances? Can we take a minute to evaluate our friendships? Are we giving and receiving? Are we looking for ways to create space for her? Are we allowing her to create space for us? As a born giver, I love to do that for my
friends, but I’m not so good at receiving. It’s a little awkward, honestly. But I’m working
on it! You too?

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