Last week, I spent a couple days away in some solitude, and I continue to find myself ruminating in the lessons, the after-effects of stillness and solitude, and some fresh perspectives on community and friendship. I feel like there is so much to process, and I find myself praying frequently and anxiously as I lean into the promises of God.
I went into my time of solitude having just finished reading Donald Miller’s latest book, Scary Close. I was really wrestling with what Miller writes about vulnerability, relationships, and authenticity. I had been pretty shaken and challenged by the idea of vulnerability, and as Miller himself writes, “I began to wonder what life would be like if I dropped the act and began to trust that being myself would be enough to get the love I needed” (p. 35).
I prayed, and processed, and journaled. I worked through a Henri Nouwen book on Spiritual Direction processing through questions of identity, belonging, and ministry. And, in the midst of all of that, I tried my best to just listen–to listen for the still small voice of God, to listen for direction and truth and love.
By Tuesday evening I was ready to come home, and by Wednesday afternoon I was craving community. I was ready to take some small but bold steps of faith in a few places. I sent some text messages, and had some conversations, and prayed and prayed some more. And, in the midst of text messages, and conversations, and processing, the faithfulness of God and work of the Holy Spirit were affirmed… over and over.
And, in the midst of that, a dear friend sent me a text that has been rattling around in my heart and brain ever since. She said, “Vulnerability is hard. Friendship is harder.”
She’s right, you know.
We can have moments of vulnerability, and though it’s hard, it can happen in an instant. But friendship–true friendship–takes time and stories and walking-alongside and conversations and so much more. “Vulnerability is hard. Friendship is harder.”
See, vulnerability and friendship look different in the season of life I am in now than they ever have before. In high school, college, and even in seminary, it was easy to make friends and to keep them. On mission trips and in other short-term intentional communities, it’s easy to make friends, and even to keep them despite geographical separation. But, in the midst of day-to-day life, crazy schedules, the demands of others on our time, chores to be done, and work, forging friendships requires much more intentionality, and a healthy dose of patience, too.
I find myself today praying anxiously for patience as I lean into his plan and his faithfulness in friendship and community, pursuing friendships that are purposeful and intentional in how they build, encourage, strengthen, and challenge and trusting God’s plan for the long haul over my impatience.
Because, let’s be honest. When it feels like God is saying, “this is a gift from the Holy Spirit,” I just get so excited and I want it all at once! And I get impatient, and I start to forget that God’s timeline is best even when it is different from my own.
So, for today at least, I’m praying for patience, and for wisdom, and for courage, as I continue to lean into community and friendship with trust both in my friends and in God’s timing. After all, he is faithful, and he knows what he’s doing.