We all have competing priorities in life - many things we want to accomplish. In an effort to manage our lives effectively and win in every area, we develop time-management skills, use a calendar / planner, and discover ways that we can do things more efficiently.
All that is awesome. I love being efficient, and I think getting stuff done is a great feeling. But if one of our goals is to have meaningful friendships in life - people that really know us, trust us, and love us - we'll want to take a dramatically different approach.
To be an effective friend requires a heart connection. (We can't just stay on the surface, talk about the weather, how work is going, and the local sports team, and expect much to come from that relationship!) A heart connection requires deep vulnerability - a willingness and eagerness to open up our chest and give our heart away freely. A profound tearing down of our own internal walls. An invitation to an invasion of our personal space.
After all, friendship is personal. If we come into relationships defending our personal space and keeping people at arm's length, we keep away deep friendship. A friendship will only grow according to how we feed it, and vulnerability is sunlight. We have to let our true selves shine (for better and for worse) if any friendship is going to truly enrich our lives.
Now, our world is very fast-paced, and most places are not safe or restful emotionally (you don't want to be 100% raw and open everywhere you go). Therefore, it can take time for someone to ‘unwind’ into their normal selves. Our internal walls weren't put up with a little flick of an ‘on’ switch. Rather, they are built up over time by the stresses and difficulties throughout our lives. Many of us can't even remember the last time we've fully let our guard down, so we definitely can't expect these walls to just flick 'off.'
Thus, it’s going to take more than a one or two hour meeting with someone if we want to have a real heart to heart connection. True friendship will never fit into your schedule.
The good news is, it doesn't have to.
A heart to heart friendship is not about proximity or about how often we see each other - I mean, think about all the coworkers you know of who would never spend time outside of work together! In pursuing meaningful friendship, think less about how often you see them, and more about the quality of those times. Are you ‘fitting them into your schedule,’ or are you making space to really know them? Are you checking the time to ensure you make your next appointment, or are you giving them a safe place from the hectic, hurt-filled environments they live in?
If we model vulnerability ourselves and make room for our friends to reciprocate, our friendships will be much healthier, more enjoyable, and far more life-giving for us.
Do you have any rich friendships, where both of you are known, trusted, and loved? If so, how did you get to that place?
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You're the only one in the world with your voice and your story - we are ALL better off when you let your light shine!