I don't care what age you are or season of life you're in, making friends, or rather, finding those "tribe members" can be rough. It's true, sometimes you meet someone, and you click almost instantly. You know within one fifteen minute conversation that this person may be in your life for a long time. I feel like that is the exception, though, and not the rule. Because generally speaking, making friends takes time, trust, and vulnerability - and those three things can be hard to find. And even harder to give. At least for me that was (and sometimes still is) the case.
As someone who has often been the total fear/anxiety/insecurity package, making friends has meant a LOT of trial and error over the years. And there has been a lot of hurt and heartbreak. But you know what else there has been? Oh so many learning experiences. For a long time I thought they were learning who not to trust or hang out with, but a few months ago I had a beautiful paradigm shift in this area: sure, I've learned what to avoid, but more importantly, I've learned what to BE.
You see, I'm embarrassed to admit this, it took me a long time to realize that sure, other people had made mistakes in my life, but quite often I was bringing literally nothing to the table of friendship we were supposed to both be sharing. Friendship/village/community/tribe/squad survival means that ALL parties involved are contributing. And many times, I was not. I wanted a good friend, but I wasn't willing to be a good friend. I wanted someone's time, but how much was I offering up? I wanted people to trust in me and be vulnerable with me, but what was I willing to share or entrust them with? Not much.
In the last few years I have been so blessed by amazing friendships. My "tribe" has walked with me through the absolute ugliest times of my life. I learned how to be broken in front of people, and that it was okay to let others see me in a less than perfect state, and to trust them with my ugliness and imperfection. I've been vulnerable in ways that would ordinarily be humiliating, but rather I drew strength in those moments, because they were RIGHT. I went through a season that felt oh so lonely, and kind of threw up a prayer/challenge of desperation to God because I just wanted to feel like I was wanted. That I belonged. That I mattered.
About that time I read a book by Sally Clarkson (one of my favorite authors, hello!), and she talked about a season in her life where she didn't feel included in anything. And the Lord showed her that it was SHE who was supposed to be doing the inviting, including, and reaching out. MIND. BLOWN. Some seasons of our life, people aren't going to be beating our doors down to bring us along with them. Sometimes we need to step out and bring others along with us. That's part of life, and it's a part that will grow us in an incredible way. After that I started evaluating my tribe. A lot of surface-level friendships, but not a lot of depth. Because I was chasing acceptance in the wrong places, rather than looking to see who I could reach out to. It's been a long, sometimes painful learning process, but as I look at my life now, and realize all of the beautiful, TRUE relationships I have with so many, I am thankful for it. God knew. He always knows. And He never fails. Cling to those words, my friends, because they are truth.
I'm still learning to be a friend. To stop my selfish pursuit of perfection and open my eyes and my schedule to those around me. To allow people into my life...even to the point where they're close enough to see the scars, cracks, and bruises. Sometimes they even turn out to be the ones the Lord meant to use to heal those bruises. I still make a lot of mistakes. I forget to call people when I said I would, and I drop the ball frequently in the scheduling time area. I get caught up in the busyness of my own life that I forget to remember to make room for others. But I am learning. And I am moving forward. Simple things like letting friends come over to my house even though it isn't Pinterest perfect. Seems so tiny, but for me it's big. And it means something. And you know what? My friends know that. So it means something to them. This is doing life together. This is real, raw, and beautiful.
Friendship is unique to the parties involved. That's a big part of its beauty, its allure. When we see a group of friends who genuinely love doing life together, it draws us in, and reminds us of our desire to belong to a similar picture. We are not meant to exist in isolation. We are better together - we truly flourish when we are surrounded by a healthy community of those who are willing to speak encouragement and truth (even when it gets uncomfortable) into our lives, and when we are able to do the same for them. These are the lessons I'm learning, and the ones I'm trying to teach my children to grab hold of while they're still so young.
Village. Tribe. Squad. Whatever you call it, we are better when we do life together. <3