By Elisa Morgan
WANTED: Female Friend. Age: Less (as in age-less). Location: Present. Availability: When needed. Skills: Non-judgmental listening ears and voice given to both constructive critique and compliments. Pay: Reciprocity.
On the subject of friendship, I'm very clear: I know what I want in a friend. That's easy. Harder - for me - is being friendable. Approachable. Open to the new. Willing to do the work of investing from scratch.
How do I open myself to friendship in such a way that I stay safe and yet risk knowing and being known?
Time for some honest self-examination. How badly do I want to be known? Honest answer: it depends. On my mood, my current circumstances, my schedule, my needs. But friendship doesn't wait to form just when we are in the mood or need it. It's formed in the daily and the dramatic so that when we need it, it's there.
Deeper now. What am I doing to risk being known? Hmmmm. I share. I do. I open up. In fact, I can be honest to a fault. So much spilled out so that others sit staring and wondering how they can ever connect with my messes. That is, until they realize they relate. By that moment, the conversation has moved on.
But I also hold back. I busy myself with busyness. Busy busy busyness. "I'm gone all week!" "I could fit in a breakfast - oh but I have a meeting right after!" Three-minute voicemails serve as catch-up "conversations".
I want friends. But how friendable am I willing to be?
Taking stock of all the enduring friendships in my life, in every one there was a time when I chose to be friendable. Such a choice was always followed by another choice to continue being friendable. And so on. Over and over and over again.
Over twenty years ago, I stepped into a "covenant" group with seven others. At first we didn't really know each other. At least all of us didn't know all of us. We'd been gathered together by two women who felt called to bring us into a group of mutual support due to our life callings. Partly because I sensed agreement with the call and a lot because they were all older and much wiser, I committed. I knew I needed what they had.
Some time after we began our monthly meetings - maybe it was a whole year - I risked and gave more of me. Unedited. Raw. Real. Down the road, I chose again as I listened to another sister share a dark moment. I cupped her story and held it as sacred. Through the years, I've chosen again and again and again. Carving out calendar space and protecting it, pausing to consider differences in our generational perspectives, bringing forth more of myself to connect with another, I've chosen again and again to become friendable.
Jesus said, "Do to others as you would have them do to you." Translated for us in the arena of friendship: "If you want a friend, be friendable." Choose it. And then choose it over and over and over again. I am.
Elisa Morgan is an author and speaker and the cohost of Discover the Word. Her books include The Beauty of Broken, Hello, Beauty Full, and She Did What She Could. Connect with Elisa @elisa_morgan on Twitter, on Facebook and elisamorganauthor on Instagram.