It's Called Intentionality
Originally posted on May 21, 2012.
I am a big proponent of couch-conversations.
You see, there is something very special about those conversations – you know, the ones where you curl up on opposite sides of the couch and just talk – where vulnerability isn’t just optional, but is actually expected? Those conversations.
I recently realized that my most cherished conversations have taken place not in the kitchen, nor at a fancy Italian restaurant, nor in a romantic alcove of the park… rather, the conversations I hold most dear to my heart have all taken place with me sitting on one side of the couch while my fellow-conversationalist (whomever it may be) sits curled up on the opposite side. A couch-conversation, if you will.
So today’s question: what is friendship? How does one truly become one of those friends – the couch-conversation kind of friend? What does it take?
I personally do not have the answers to these questions… and yet, I know without a doubt that I am overwhelmingly blessed by the friends I have. My friends are like a kaleidoscope – you never know what you’re going to get. There’s the bold and beautiful New York pen-pal, the mind-bogglingly intelligent Classicist, the AK-47-shooting mother of two, the snake-charmer of a skydiver, the Mumford-and-Sons-obsessed Catholic (my wonderful roommate), and the list goes on and on – and yes, they are all incredibly unique and interesting.
But what is it about these people that make them such good friends? Is it the great conversation? The fact that I could go to any one of them and cry for hours if need be, and they would stay with me as long as it took? Or knowing that they love me unconditionally… all the time?
A few weeks ago, I was talking to one of these friends about how frustrated I got when he (or anyone) didn’t listen when I had something important to say, and he said to me, “Megan, I might not be the best listener once I got there, but I would drive as far as you needed just to give you a hug. You know that, right?” (You shouldn’t be surprised that we were sitting on a couch when he said this)
The funny thing was… I did know that. This particular friend will never be the world’s greatest listener, but he is the world’s greatest friend when it comes to a shoulder to cry on – and he is always there when I need him. THAT is a friend.
This past weekend, my New-York pen-pal came in town for a wedding, and I was lucky enough to snag a few hours with her on Sunday afternoon. Not surprisingly, we ended up sitting on opposite corners of the couch having one of those heart-to-hearts I mentioned above — and what a blessing it was! There is so much to be said for honesty and vulnerability in relationships, and couch-conversations lend themselves quite well to these two traits — which is why the whole conversation was such a joy.
But friendship… what is friendship?
To me, friendship is intentionality. Leah (Miss NYC) and I weren’t great friends when she moved to New York in December – but five months later, we’re in a place where we can bare our hearts in a couch-conversation. Our relationship is based entirely on intentionality — because despite the obvious hardship of living 706 miles (or 1,136 kilometers, for you metric folk out there) apart, our relationship is consistently getting stronger. It’s all about intentionality.
I’ve seen so many relationships fail because one member of the relationship puts in all the effort, while the other sits around and doesn’t do anything… but true friendship isn’t one-sided. True friendship takes dedication. Work. The knowledge that sometimes you might get reeeeeally frustrated with a friend… but that they’re still worth your love. It requires passion, and effort, and a desire to learn from each other. Listening. Caring. Hugs (so many hugs).
And more than anything, true friendship requires honesty — and it requires vulnerability. This isn’t easy… but since when is anything worth having easy?
As one of my favorite theologians says, “Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art… It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival” (C.S. Lewis).
It’s not going to be a simple road — there are twists and turns in every path you can take, and friendship is no exception. But taking time to be intentional — to seek out those you care about, to make it clear that they have value, to show that you truly love them? That, my friends, is worth it. That is what friendship is all about.