I’ll be your friend, friend,
If you’re reading this, we having something in common.
One of the most challenging and laborious tasks in all of human civilization is mastering true, authentic relationship. I’m speaking romantically or platonic because in both cases there seems to be continuous encounters with others that are… well, awkward and real insincere.
For starters, (within teenagers, usually) there’s this perceived awkwardness of sorts, one that we make ourselves believe exists, but doesn’t actually exist… if that makes sense. It sounds like this, “they don’t want to talk to me, so I won’t bother them!”
There is also the infamous “avoid talking to someone in fear of ‘leading them on'” or ignoring them because maybe they won’t remember you since the only time you talked was while being intoxicated.
Oh, the infamous “turning the other direction,” “avoiding eye contact,” or “grabbing my phone” so I can avoid small talk. It’s all resistance towards opening up to others. I know for myself, it’s not that I want to isolate myself by avoiding conversation, rather it’s numbness. An unfortunate realization that people cannot enact relational skills. I also get discouraged in the realization that people don’t ask me because they care, they ask me to know the juicy details of whatever it is they ask about. But, I am also wrong to expect perfection from others, so it’s a balancing act.
While all excuses above can hold validity, the main reason it just all sucks is because
1. our own fears could shy us away from a potential new best friend.
2. they play a major part in the downfall of the fulfillment of our identities.
St. Thomas Aquinas said (more or less) that the art of doing something [inherently] good (in this case; talking to people) is the fulfillment we receive, not so much doing the act “perfectly” or getting results. In light of this, I know for a lot of people their insecurity is that they ‘don’t know what to say’ when they approach someone. It’s not really about talking to that person as much as it is unraveling your ability to be relational and risk putting yourself out there.
I mean, one of the first words I learned was, “hi,” so that’s a start, I guess. Maybe.. too soon? Ok.
Such resistance to encounters might begin to form emotional blockage. In this case, the heart is not being moved and expanded to its maximum capacity. You should be laughing, crying, talking, singing, and being real with people.
With that, when I say and write about “real, authentic” conversations and relationships, I do mean this as the face-to-face moments (cause technology) but I mean this as expressive, vibrant, courageous, “look me in the eye,” heart-felt, deep, honest, active listening, vulnerable, true, sincere, and nothing along the lines of service level “how’s the weather?”
I write this because I’ve been there. My mindset was simple: “as long as I keep my heart right here, protected, shielded, and free from hurt, voicing my opinion, beliefs, or anything that kept me from exposing my awkwardness, it will be a guarantee that I will always be a.ok!”
This is the truth. Factual. I was always going to be a-o.k if I did this, but my heart wasn’t growing as it should. Despite being OK, I was growing numb, insensitive to deep issues, and closed off to reality. Soon enough, I realized making a fool of myself in front of 16 year old’s while teaching and getting no one to laugh at your jokes is kind of cool and amazing 😉 (debatable, I know).
But this is a freeing moment. We are made to experience authenticity within ourselves via relationships.
Take the first step with others, initiate conversations, avoid judgments, accept judgments, say a quick hello in the random spots of our days, SMILE, embrace and offer a reconciliation with someone that’s long overdue, have a heart ready to risk possible rejection, giving people a chance, experience the hurt, and offer your sincere self.
Maybe your friend hurt you and did harm and the temptation is to feel unlovable. Maybe the last guy you dated told you you’re “too much” and you were afraid of talking or being “too much” for months (@me). Unfortunately one of the downfalls and wounds of civilization, since original sin, is the break of relationship. We have to work extra hard on relationships because they aren’t natural to us anymore. Each of us are broken and hurt in some way because of it, especially at the expense of loneliness.
With Christ’s divine help, we can overcome the wounds of our past and this relationship dilemma because He, the master of relationship, redeems us through our relationship with Him. To the extent we allow ourselves to experience our hearts giving to the ones we love, and getting ripped apart, undergoing an outpouring of love, hurts, and rejections is the extent we understand and appreciate the greatest gift to mankind; the Eucharist.
Recall a moment you were so incredibly and passionately in love with someone. Maybe you’re feeling such a way now (dat’s cool). You begin to long for the perfect way to show and tell them, to give a piece of your heart to them — sometimes just seeing them is enough. When you find that way, maybe they have no idea the depth of what you just did.
During the last supper, Jesus’ heart is so full, so filled with compassion and love for his disciples (and humanity to come), that he longs to give nothing more than himself as a gift of love. He has no better way to offer his love than to make [“a fool of himself”] his love available to the disciples as food and drink. The bread, basically his heart, is held out before them, broken and offered to them, piece by piece.
“This is MY body,” (my heart, my soul, my arms, my hands, my legs, my feet) all of me, my whole self “GIVEN up for YOU.“
Jesus knew he was going to suffer, he knew people would abandon him for 2000 years and he would suffer that loneliness everyday. I mean, to know all that and see his courage dive right into his suffering (which, admittedly, would stop me, and probably you, too) is nothing short of astonishing. He did not protect his perfect heart and keep it safe. He freely gave it. In its totality, holding nothing back.
Do not be afraid to love others. Put yourself out there. Say hi. Introduce yourself to that cute boy or girl and invite them for coffee, or if you don’t drink coffee (me), go out to breakfast.
Jesus is the example of human relationship we are called to. Pray for the courage to love others without fear.
To the extent you give yourself to others, avoiding the emotional risks, is the extent you will be able to master the art of relationship, fulfill your relationships to new depths, cultivate virtue, learn the value of self-giving and unpacking your own self-identity and limits, and better yet, growing closer to our Lord.
Go say hi to someone,
your new friend
Picture originally featured here