It came like a jab in the face, as it often does – when God speaks unexpectedly. Though not as dramatic or life-altering as Paul’s encounter on the road to Damascus, I was, as he likely was, not looking for a word from God right at that moment. God does things that way, once in a while. Perhaps to remind us that our ability to hear Him is not a result of all our straining to listen, but it is of grace: undeserved, and impossible to earn.
Something my husband said, in passing, as I sat at the table with him after dinner one day. I cannot even remember the topic of discussion, or the words that were spoken. But in an instant God had seized them, launched them like little pointy arrows, and used them to pierce me with a deep longing. A yearning, aching one, that had been folded up and tucked away, along with other childish, impossible things. It rang in my ears, and vibrated in my chest, like the startled feeling you have after the shattering of glass.
I wanted a friend.
Not just any friend. But the kind that, for someone like me, only comes around once or twice in a lifetime. If that. A ‘kindred spirit,’ as Anne would say.
The acknowledgement of this longing came with an invitation – I believe, from God Himself – to pray for its fulfillment. It had the feel, to me, of a promise. Like something He already had. Something that He was eagerly waiting to give to me.
My eyes stung with tears, as my husband continued to talk. I blinked them back, swallowed the lump in my throat, and discretely put the rush of emotion aside to be dealt with later on. (I’m getting better at that sort of thing. Though I’m not sure if I am fooling anyone.)
How long has it been, since I have had a friend like that? Someone who gets me. Who truly loves me and doesn’t hang out with me because she feels like she has to, or out of pity, or even Christian servanthood. Somebody I can waste hours with, and it feels like no time at all. A person with whom conversation and laughter flow, like water.
I’ve been blessed to have at least two friendships like that, in my lifetime. The one ended as swiftly and unexpectedly as it began. I still don’t know why she dropped me. It was a bit like a summer fling, but without the element of romance.
The other has been longer lasting, but geography and circumstances have kept us apart for several years. She lives on another continent. And although people can, to a degree, keep in touch electronically, it’s just not the same as sharing life together.
Although I’m sad when friendships end or grow apart, I treasure the memories that I have from them. I’m thankful for the joy I was able to share with these people.
But as I’ve grown older, I’ve become a little hardened. Not wanting to feel the pain of loss or rejection again, I close myself off. I’m friendly, but I hold others at an arm’s length.
And at my age, is anyone even still looking for friends? It seems to me that the women I meet are already quite well-connected, and not looking for more friendships than what they already have.
I’ve also noticed that other people are quicker and more adept at forming true and lasting bonds than I am. I can know women for just as long as they know each other, and watch them grow into very close friends, while I remain on the outside.
I’m not sure why this is. My introverted nature probably has something to do with it. I ask myself on a regular basis: am I being nice enough? Do others see me as grouchy or down in the dumps? Do they not know what to do with me, because of my intense emotional reactions to things? If my personality were funnier, or bubblier, or happier…would they like me then?
Whatever the case, I think that becoming aware that I actually do want and need a close friend, is progress in and of itself. And now, I have a word. A promise. An acknowledgement: God sees my pain. I don’t think He wants me to shelve my desire for true friendship or bury it in some kind of broken-dream-graveyard. He wants this for me. He has it for me. And I just need to wait, and watch.
How about you? Is it easy for you to make friends, or difficult? Have you ever had a best friend? I would love to hear about it in the comments section below.