She picks me up to hit the road. I’m so not in the mood to hang out with friends, much less slap on a smile and meet new people. I’ve been feeling un-fine for the last couple of weeks thanks to a total vulnerability hangover. You know the kind, when you did or said something that reveals the deepest, most hidden parts of you. Like those secrets we keep under lock and key; we know what they are, and we don’t want anyone else to know.
But two weeks ago, I didn’t have a choice, they saw the un-fine parts of me.
Oh, it was such a mess. Such a moment of rawness and being so barefaced.
They saw the weakest parts of me.
And it made my heart heavy because I couldn’t take any of it back. Vulnerability hangovers suck. It leaves one reeling in the cycle:
What are they thinking?
Are they talking about me?
I am too much.
I am not enough.
But it’s been more than two weeks since that moment and I can’t hide behind my locked front door anymore. The horn honks in my driveway so I add a bit more lip-gloss and head outside.
And what I find is a warm and welcoming embrace. She smiles at me says none of us are fine all the time and it’s okay to be unfine.
How in the world could I know that one unfine moment could open up so much? How could I know that my not enough would be embraced as a full measure by her and the rest of our friends?
But that’s the point isn’t it? Friendships are built on gritty, messy, imperfect everyday moments. Friendship like this doesn’t happen overnight. And it reminds me what I tell my kids often, “The day you plant a seed is not the day you eat its fruit.” Friendship and community are like that.
It’s built on a series of 1,000 little everyday moments, taking the time to invest in someone else. It’s built on answering the phone at 2 a.m. when you’re already exhausted from a teething toddler or a teen who missed curfew.
It’s strengthened with chips, salsa, and margaritas, in an empty restaurant at 2 p.m. because she NEEDS to someone to listen to her about the pressure of carrying the world on her shoulders.
It’s sitting six feet apart in the backyard on a hot, humid with a pot of coffee on summer afternoon because you miss her but COVID is still jacking with social lives.
It’s leaving $100 tip on a $20 tab because you believe in your friend’s business and you see how much she poured her soul into that place.
It’s giving your friend extra room during Jazz because you know she has two left feet but you love working out beside her.
It’s reassuring your friend that just because she’s starting over in the trenches of motherhood, she won’t be left behind.
It’s cultivated when you’re the friend who collects frozen meals and gift cards, and drives thirty minutes one way to just drop it all off unseen because her family is in the process of mending from loss.
It’s built on storming heaven’s gates interceding with prayer because she’s in a battle she doesn’t have words to describe.
It happens over days and weeks and years of constantly investing in someone and making time for them. It’s a thousand little decisions to show up and be an extraordinary friend.
The sweet spot of friendship is unhusked in all of its glory after planting and tending to it day after day, in rain or drought.
My friend, if you’re lonely, my best advice is to love yourself enough to be the friend you’ve always wanted—especially when you are unfine. Especially in the mess. This is the YOU they want and NEED.
They don’t want to see the best version of you. They don’t want the poise and carefully applied makeup. They want the real, bold, messy, frail, stubborn, muffin top woman who struggles with her kids too.
Darling, we live in a world where we feel so very isolated and lonely, especially in 2020.
How do we change that? We don’t over think it, we just begin.
We are not supposed to do this alone. As much as I want to guard my heart, my poise, my reputation and your impression of me, God made me for relationships.
And you know what, life works the best when I am real and the same goes for you. Always.
Listen to me, because this is so important: don’t wait one more second for that friend to show up in your life. Go and do it and be it.