Everyone wants to have great relationships. This desire to be deeply connected to other people transcends the typical societal divides of class, culture, and status. On a recent trip overseas I was pondering what a great relationship looks like.
I took the trip with a good friend. We have known each other since we were kids navigating puberty and middle school lockers, and we have remained fairly close over the years. He was in my wedding and I was in his. We visited each other in graduate school and welcomed each other’s kids into the world. During our trip, we were reunited with other friends from our youth and we all belly laughed late into the night recounting tales of the past.
What I noticed is that our conversations were the opposite of Facebook.
I have heard it said that Facebook is like a highlight reel of how we want to be seen by others – people post about the fun times, interesting events, and accomplishments. I am no different. I have shared cute photos of our toddler and none of him throwing fits or refusing to eat his vegetables. That is the nature of social media – but it is not the nature of deep connections.
During the trip our conversations were the exact opposite. They ranged from girlfriends leaving us broken hearted to episodes of public embarrassment. I did not need to hear the humiliating story about getting body slammed by a State Campion wrestler into a boxing ring filled with chocolate pudding while the entire student body laughed at me . . . but my friends could not resist reliving the side-splitting moment. I was once again mocked for how my voice cracked while leading a group in a song and for not getting into my college of choice. I, of course, shared plenty of stories too.
It wasn’t all embarrassing moments.
We recalled our misadventures with legalism during the early years of learning about God. We remembered shedding tears as adults when dealing with painful betrayal, unmet expectations, and parenting challenges. We never discussed our good grades, professional successes, or awards we have won. In a serious moment, my friend smiled and said, “We have weathered life together.”
I think great friendships arise through more than a series of good interactions.
What really built our friendship were the difficult and painful times.
We were with each other when things were not going well and when we made big mistakes. In a sense, our friendship was forged in the fire of trials as well as in the joy of successes… and that is the secret.
It may seem counter intuitive that successful relationships are more about being authentic than having it all together. Intimacy comes more quickly when we move beyond relational polish into the reality of life. Not every relationship is meant to be deep or long lasting, but more should be. Let pretence fall away and authenticity rise up as we move into deeper relationships. Let’s weather life together.
-John Richmond (www.Storyline.com)