My voice rings throughout the house: Faith! Cora! I hear nothing in return from my daughter and her friend. I walk out the front door calling their names again, then I immediately hear laughter from the scarlet maple near the porch. I see Faith right away, but Cora takes a bit of searching. She hides in plain sight among the branches.
Every so often, what I want to find sits right in front of me, hiding in plain sight.
Every so often, I send a text then immediately want to rewind time and take it back.
Or rather hide it from plain sight.
This happened recently after a dear friend kindly texted me to say she was praying for me. She knew my daddy’s health weighed heavily on my mind as I stared down a massive writing deadline. I replied thank you for your prayers and told her how much I needed and appreciated them. A short time later, I took the opportunity to ask this same approachable friend a writing question about something that worried and frustrated me all at once. And that’s the text I wanted to take back because after sending it, I realized how wildly vulnerable it made me look.
My mind proceeded to list a reel of reasons why this follow-up text was a bad idea:
Look at you barging in on her time with your lame “problems.”
Why are you giving a voice to this stupid thing?
You do realize your words in that text leaked ridiculous insecurity, don’t you?
I plopped on my bed, set my phone on my nightstand, and sighed. By placing those see-through words in plain view of someone else, I felt like I had walked into a room wearing a sundress and noticed everyone else wearing jeans and long-sleeved shirts. I felt overdressed – or rather overexposed – for the occasion.
So in an effort to cover up and feel less out of place, I picked my phone up from my nightstand and wrote back the following text:
“I’m so sorry for complaining. Just pretend I never asked that last question and I’ll blame my rambling on having a long, emotional week.”
It was my way of dashing to the closet and picking out the first thing I saw to cover up in – like a turtleneck or some other up-to-the-neck shirt. I still felt silly about it all (because who wears a turtleneck over a sundress?), but at least I was less out there, less exposed.
My friend refused to let me off the hook – in a good way. She responded with some of the kindest words my heart ever encountered:
“Listen, everyone needs that, you know? You have to be able to say All The Things to someone. It’s so vital to the writing life. And also just plain life.”
I still tear up remembering it. In a few short sentences, she gave me the confidence to take off my outside layer, to exhale and let the warm sunshine kiss my shoulders. I thanked God right then and there for revealing my own safe person who graciously listened to my own All The Things.
There have been times in my life when I’ve lamented the state of my friendships and believed everyone must be dripping with friends but me. In reality, most people aren’t. And really, they don’t need to be. What you need and I need most is a few good friends – a couple battle buddies who don’t run from our difficult and hard thoughts, our ugly insecurities and concerns.
When I am feeling as exposed and vulnerable as I have ever felt, you are gentle . . . You put me on a stretcher and cut a hole in the roof where Jesus is and lower me down. Herky jerky with sawdust in my hair, singing show tunes and complimenting me on my outfit, feeding me and praying for me. Laughing and crying with me. Thank you for getting me to Jesus.
~ Leeana Tankersley, Breathing Room
We don’t need dozens and dozens of friends living on the fringes of our real lives. We need a smallish number who help get us to Jesus, the only One who always, always meets us in the depth of our need. We need gal pals who listen as He does, without condemnation or eye rolling. Yes, they need to be willing to tell us hard truths, but they aren’t turned off when our hearts turn inside out.
Here’s the thing, however: Sometimes those friends are ones we already have, ones hiding in plain sight. They are peeking at us through the branches, just waiting on us to give them permission to be a safe place for a heart embrace. They are waiting for us to lie down on that stretcher and trust them to be a grace space to share our vulnerabilities.
I need that. You need that.
May He show us how to bravely and graciously live it.