Do have a friend with whom talking is a delight? Someone who takes the time to wander with you through the ideas in your head and isn’t put off by the things found in your heart? When you find that person – it’s a rare gift, one to be treasured. I can say with a great deal of certainty, those friendships don’t just happen, they emerge over time and distance as life is explored, entered, and lived together.
This idea of really living…how often it is lost in the hurry of life. Really living takes margin on all sides because without margin, it’s hard to think widely, deeply and broadly. And here’s the kicker…those are the very things that over time and distance create leisurely relating that bonds hearts and knits souls.
Eugene Peterson quotes Martin Bubar in his book, Leap Over a Wall: “The greatest thing any person can do for another is to confirm the deepest thing in him, in her—to take the time and have the discernment to see what’s most deeply there, most fully that person, and then confirm it by recognizing and encouraging it.” Peterson goes on to describe a friend as someone who enters our lives not looking for someone to use but who is leisurely “enough to find out what’s really going on in us, is secure enough not to exploit our weaknesses or attack our strengths, [recognizing] our inner life and understand the difficulty of living out our inner convictions, [confirming] what’s deepest within us.”
Really what Peterson and Bubar are describing is presence. The kind of faithful presence that engenders trust and risk. Risk to be seen and trust that the one who is with us will see us and love us well. They won’t be shocked and turn away, they won’t be put off because our thinking might be wonky. They’ll stick around, join our journey, challenge assumptions, and ignite hope for us that we could not light for ourselves.
This doesn’t happen in a rush. Or on the fly. Or squeezed into cracks of time. It needs time to germinate, space to maneuver, and room to meander through the conversations of life. Sure, we’ll return again and again to some territory. And you can totally believe that it won’t always be fun…but it will bring life…it will bring love and someone’s life will be changed for the better. Maybe it will be yours.
Maybe that’s worth slowing down for?
ACTION: On a sheet of paper, make a list of the people who have been this kind of friend to you. Who are the ones who meander through your inner world with you igniting hope? How do they do this with you? Perhaps you want to write them and tell them how grateful you are for them. To whom are you this kind of friend?