A Friendship I Prayed For
True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that: our need to be perceived as perfect, our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave. But what we give is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us. Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk. If we can control it and manage it and manufacture it, then there’s something else, but if it’s really love, really friendship, it’s a little scary around the edges.
Shauna Niequiest, Cold Tangerines
I’ve known Staci since freshman year of college. We were on the cheer team together and in the same New Testament class. The first time I met her, I felt intimidated–she exuded such confidence and spunk. Our husbands were in a tight-knit group of friends back then, and have remained close. Once everyone got married, the husbands would get together, and naturally, so would the wives.
I used to think that Staci and I were so different from one another. One time Adam said to me: “I think you and Staci are alike, and you’d be great friends.” It turns out my husband was right. Staci is one of my closest friends, and I am beyond grateful for our friendship. She’s the kind of friend who encourages with her words, is a thoughtful and creative gift-giver, and makes others smile with her positive presence. She helps people feel loved and seen and cherished. Staci fights for her friends. And she’s really good at saying, “I’m sorry.”
Our friendship has taken work and intentionality. We are different in some ways–as all friends are (over time, we have learned the ways we are also really alike). Staci is the queen of small talk, 100% extrovert. And even if she’s exhausted or worn out, you would never know because she always puts others’ needs first with a smile on her face. I prefer deep, heart talk, and am about 50% extrovert, 50% introvert. If I’m feeling worn down or stressed out, it’s usually easy to tell because I wear my heart on my sleeve.
We’ve learned our common traits, too: organized, sensitive, people-pleasing, outgoing, and detail-oriented. We love to go shopping. We can chat for hours on end at a coffee shop, on a walk, or in each other’s living room. We read the same books. We prefer to chat at our husbands’ soccer games instead of watching them play (oops). When we get together, we are really good at spending time on the small talk, and the heart stuff.
A few years ago, I started to really pray about our friendship. I felt like we had a lot of fun together, but I wanted our friendship to grow deeper. I had built up walls of perceived perfection–allowing comparison to win over authentic friendship, and I wanted to break down barriers. One summer afternoon, we were laying out by the pool while our husbands were on a camping trip. Staci had been studying attunement, and was applying her newly learned wisdom to our conversation, bringing me to tears. She asked me why I was crying, and I told her what I had been praying for. Our friendship continues to grow as we share life together–the fun, the hard, the beautiful, and the messy.
Staci had a baby in February, and it has been an honor to watch her navigate this new season of motherhood. I asked her what authentic friendship looks like in this season, and what makes it challenging:
Authentic friendships means being able to relax around my friend and know that I am accepted for who I am. It feels easy and comfortable. One of the biggest challenges in being a new mom is comparison–comparing myself to my friends who are moms and comparing my child to theirs. When I was struggling with breastfeeding my baby, I felt like all of my friends could do it and I had failed. Shame was so powerful and I felt very lonely as I pulled away from friendships. Seeking community with other moms has made this transition so much easier. When I set my insecurities aside, I find encouragement, care, and more opportunities to be vulnerable because we are all on a hard, yet rewarding journey together.
This is part of a series called 31 Days of Authentic Friendship. Click here to see all posts.
I'm Ali. I write about my journey of living a full and healthy life with food allergies, overcoming the comparison trap, and cultivating authenticity.