I went to lunch this week with an acquaintance in hopes of making a new friend. I've needed something in a friendship that I can't really identify. More time? Different time? More depth? More vulnerability? Someone to challenge me? Someone to not challenge me but be with me in the midst of challenges? Something, but I'm not sure what it is. I just know that there is a hole. A missing piece that I haven't known how to fill because honestly I don't even know what it is. I just know that it's there. I have GREAT friends. Among the best, but the ones who have historically provided what I believe I'm missing are no longer as geographically accessible. Life changes that way doesn't it?
I moved. Almost 8 years ago. (I've never been on the fast track to many things if you are wondering why I'm just now addressing this need.) In my desperation to connect with other woman and gain some semblance of belonging I phoned all of the big churches in town to find a women's Bible study. I found one! That was 5 years ago. I've met some amazing women. I've done some incredible studies. I've made friends. I've cultivated relationships with people who I know care about me and my family. I still need more. I just can't identify what it is. So I have prayed that God will either meet the need, fill the hole, take away the "lonely" or bring me to a place of understanding my own soul well enough that I know what to do next. Meanwhile, I go through the motions of what I believe it is that I need.
I don't put myself "out there" easily in relationships. I'm an introvert. I'm overly cautious. And as my husband has convinced me I am just independent and competent enough that I give off exactly ZERO indication that I need anything from anybody. Yet I do. To the core of my being, I do. So during the lunch I mentioned previously, I'm sitting and going through the motions of making a potential new friend. Cautiously hopeful. Nervously optimistic. Again attempting to address this hole, this need that I don't know what to call or how to meet. Her phone rings. Nothing new that happens all the time. She doesn't answer it. That's new. The conversation is good. Easy even. She gets a call or two and a few text messages in the course of our time together. Each time she glances down to assure it isn't her children and continues her conversation with me. She is attentive. She is funny. She is smart. I'm enjoying our time. When I commented about her not answering her phone she quickly responded, "I set aside this time to spend with you." At that moment something happened in my heart. Right there inbetween bites of salad I felt it both physically and emotionally. It was real and it was powerful.
Those words. The gift of those words were like a neon sign pointing to what the need was in my heart. Those words identified the hole. "I set aside this time to spend with you." Intentional on purpose relationship that mattered enough to put down the distractions that our culture sees as so important. Time spent not in passing or busyness but specifically for the goal of friendship. Not completing a task, not helping each other with kids, not attending a function… The means and the end were the same – each other! Outside of to-do lists and ministry and work and children and everything else we manage to cram into our days it is hearts! Beautiful, fantastic, precious, unique hearts. One at a time. One on one. The burning passion I have had since I can remember. To know, to love and to encourage the hearts of others. And she just communicated that she was here to get to know mine. How have I missed it? It's my deepest need and I have been settling for that which scratches the surface. I've been denying my own soul the fuel it needs to live and wondering all the while why I don't feel alive!