There will be times you feel lonely and that ache burns so deeply inside of you that nothing and nobody in this world can fill it. You are not alone. The beauty of a burden is that it connects you with others who are like-minded and burdened. Remain in this special community of hurting and healing (you define this group) Your heart will thank you.
I’ve learned over the last few years who my true friends are. If you want to test this in your own life, I encourage you to go through something difficult.
For me, it was going to jail. Three solid months incarcerated and three months on house arrest. I couldn’t even go on my porch or let the dog out to do her business. I found myself utterly lonely, broken, and without a friend in the world.
People will come into your life for a number of reasons:
Some will come to rejoice with you in the good times
Others will come to your aid and help you get through the tough times
Then there is that special group, your Inner Circle (as I like to call them), that are with you in both the good and bad times. They are the people who will celebrate you and make you feel loved, but also the people who will grab your hand and let you know they’re by your side through some of the darkest days and times of your life.
Do you have an inner circle? Do you have a group who you can confide in, be yourself with, and drop the mask?
If not, it’s time to get one.
Our world today is inundated with people who want to connect, but the question you should ask yourself is “Who really wants to connect?” It’s safe to connect online. It’s safe to hide behind the typed word, trust me, I would know. But it takes something special to be able to sit with someone in moments that aren’t so comfortable, in the moments when you don’t have the words, but you know your presence is appreciated.
When is the last time you connected with someone?
When is the last time you heard someone bare their soul, open their heart, or share their grief? When is the last you got off messenger and into a coffee shop? When was the last time you sat across from someone and shared their joys or burdens?
We all need the inner circle. We need those people who not only ground us but challenge us.
. We need this group of people in our lives. These are not “yes” people, quite the contrary. My inner circle contains people who love me, but also love me enough to challenge me in continual growth and love.
A friend will not only love you; they will challenge you.
A friend will rub you the wrong way, piss you off, and, at times, make you want to scream. But, if you work through this discomfort, work through the conflict, you’re left with something beautiful–a relationship that has stood a test.
People give up on each other too easily today, just look at the divorce rate. You offend me and BAM, I’m gone.
I’m tired of people who agree with me all the time. I want people who will challenge me and help me challenge myself. Oh, and this circle comes with a price, it has to be reciprocal. If I’m just using friends to meet my own needs, then they are not friends. They are people I’m using. I hope you see the difference.
Final Thoughts on Friendship
I encourage each of you to find an inner circle for support, accountability, and just to alleviate the feeling that hits almost all of us at some point, “I’m all alone in this.” This is the greatest lie you’ll ever be told.
Choose wisely and share wisely.
Also, if you want to see how many real friends you have, take a break from social media.
Remember folks, you can be social with many, but intimate with a few.
Treat intimacy and friendship as a gift and you’ll be surprised how your life turns around and relationships flourish.
I’ll leave you with the words of Henri Nouwen and encourage you to look through your 1000+ Facebook friends today and ask yourself ‘Who do I need to connect with?” Remember, an exchange of information is a pathway to intimacy. You cannot create intimacy outside of an exchange of information, but also remember, not everyone has earned the right to hear your story.
Be well, live well, and connect well,
My personal litmus test for defining a friend:
When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.