Several years ago, I was single and living alone in a three-bedroom house in Dallas, Texas. My most recent roommate had long since moved out (and gotten married. I didn’t even need to say that, did I?).
Due to a recent breakup, this was a painful season. And I’d made a pact with a girlfriend. What we both needed most was prayer—not the kind of prayer that was about the needs and desires of our hearts. No, these were please-God-I’m-dying-over-here-would-you-draw-me-near prayers.
Deep, honest, tear-stained and snot-filled prayers. Gross, I know. But when you’re begging God to occupy the empty places of your soul with His love for you, and asking Him to make sure you know it, sometimes the tears (and the snot) just flow freely.
Thankfully, we’d decided all of that rawness between us was okay. We’d covered enough ground with each other that our Tuesday night meetings became a place of solace where we could come to just cry out to God and be not-alone in our pain. Those were some of the most honest and vulnerable moments I’d ever experienced. Real, gritty, and truthful. With God. With each other. No holds barred.
One evening during that season, I invited my friend to come early for dinner. I was wrapping up my day, and she was coming straight from work. It would be one of those spontaneous we’ll-eat-from-the-fridge kind of meals. The meal I would have eaten alone, but now I’d invited a friend.
She arrived when I was in the middle of sorting the spring mix—that frustrating task of separating the good leaves from the wilty, mushy, disgusting ones. I so wished I had completed this task before she arrived. Or realized it needed to happen in time to make a quick run to the store. But I was stuck. And even after all those weeks of crying and snotting with each other, I was ashamed at the status of my spring mix.
But you know what she did. She walked over, stood with me at the sink and began to wash away lettuce mush from the good leaves until we had a decent salad assembled.
It may have seemed a small gesture to her, but I will never forget it. I wasn’t used to letting others see the imperfect parts of my life. The behind-closed-doors mess that proved I didn’t have all my ducks in a row. I’m certain now that I wasn’t fooling anyone. But I’d gotten so used to always putting my best foot forward, never letting them see me sweat, and covering up what hurt me. So used to it that my desire for perfection was keeping others from seeing the real me. From loving the real me—flaws and all.
And in that interaction, when my friend responded with love to my imperfect dinner offering, I began to understand that her friendship had nothing to do with what I had could do for her.
It marks a moment in my mind when I began to understand camaraderie as a “we’re in this together” type of friendship. It was—and IS—so beautiful. When my salad leaves aren’t fresh and my tears feel like they are too much, she’ll be ‘with me’ anyway.
Even today, it takes practice (and trust) to continue to let people REALLY see me. But every time I pull out a box of spring mix and find even a few mushy, wilted leaves, I’m reminded of the friend who stood with me and labored at the sink separating the good from the bad so we could share a meal.
Have you experienced a “we’re in this together” kind of friendship? How did it come about? What did it feel like?