Friendship, Vulnerability, and Prayer

Photo Credit: "Friendship" by Fabrizio Lonzini/Creative Commons License 2.0
Photo Credit: “Friendship” by Fabrizio Lonzini/Creative Commons License 2.0

I am a lucky girl. Over the years, my path has crossed with some pretty amazing people, and I have been blessed to develop some incredible, deep, and lasting friendships with some of them.

Friendships of course start because you have some commonality, shared experience, or perspective. There you are, just living your life day by day, and before you know it, you’ve got a friend. Come to think of it, isn’t that a song from a certain animated feature?

Even for those of us who are just a little bit shy, that’s really the easy part. The hard part comes when your commonalities shift or go away, or when the physical distance between you grows, or other life changing events happen and shift the landscape of your friendship.  When you shoulder some of those burdens of life together, renew connections and make new ones, your friendship goes even deeper and in the process becomes more precious.

In my experience, the most beautiful part of friendship comes when you are able to walk tenderly together into the moments and spaces of vulnerability in your lives. Sometimes this is entirely mutual, such as when you and your friend share a hard experience. Sometimes you are the one in a vulnerable spot, and your friend is there to love and support you and help you remember how good things can be and that things will be good again.  And sometimes, the grace in the moment is that you are able to be there for your friend when things aren’t going that well, or even when it seems as if their world is falling apart.

I will never forget one of these moments in my own life, the night I got the news that my mom’s long struggle with cancer was finally over and she had passed. As hard as it is to believe, that was actually eleven years ago this month. At that moment, I was filled with a jumble of feelings that were almost overpowering and paralyzing. I was so glad my mom was no longer suffering, yet at the same time felt like my world had literally been torn apart and would never come back together. I called my friend. I’m not sure how coherent I was. I think I was just trying to tell someone that I was dropping everything and flying home the next day to be with my family and get ready for the funeral. I may not actually have said anything. All I know is that within the next hour, well after midnight while I was packing my suitcase, there was a gentle knock on my door.  My friend was there just to give me a hug. She had driven all the way across town just to do that. I hadn’t cried really until that hug but her presence and love freed me to let go and be with my grief. What gift.

My prayers these days are filled with hopes and love and support for friends who are going through their own rough patches. Marriage problems, deaths or serious health problems of loved ones, job or vocation crises.  Some of my favorite people in the world are having a tough time right now.  In most cases, they are too far away for me to hop in a car and give them a hug. But in my prayer, they are loved and held in a special way. Being present, even at a distance, to my friends in their vulnerability is such a beautiful thing.

I was looking for a photo to go with the post and found the one above. How perfect is that, my friends, to express what I’ve been trying to write in the past 628 words?  Sometimes, you just need a buddy to sit within you in the dryer, to give you a hug between the spins and hot spots of life.

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