The Undervalued Magic of Friendship

This month we have been exploring the art of human connection, including how our relationships—past and present—help shape who we are. We’ve talked about marriage, attachment, and family of origin. But often in these conversations, another form of relationship is often forgotten: deep, honest friendship. Here, Gabes Torres, Program Assistant, shares a beautiful snapshot of one of her cherished friendships, and how the ritual of connection between friends can offer a safe, holy space for the most vulnerable parts of ourselves to come out and play.

Every Wednesday night before going to bed, I would constantly feel a sudden rush of excitement knowing that I’m meeting with Hannah the next day.

Thursdays at 4:00pm. This is our designated time together. What was once a spontaneous invitation to happy hour has turned into weekly meetings.

As two single women living in Seattle, I anticipated the inevitability of having vibrant conversations about relationship and our desires to be in one. We’d giggle, cry, and get excited. But in most cases, we felt more skeptical about whether this was ever a possibility. When the cynicism—and typically, the frustrated sort—occurred, Hannah and I came up with a plan. We would grab a pen and paper, and write a letter to the Divine.

In those letters, we expressed our hopes in detail—hopes to be romanced and to be chosen. We were creative. Eloquent and straightforward, yet tender and childlike. Our afternoons often even felt brutal because of how vulnerable we were willing to be in our writing.

Hannah and I have both been well-acquainted with experiences of having high hopes of sharing a life with someone that eventually ended with disappointment, because the people involved either did not return the same affections or simply had different expectations as to where they wanted to take the partnership.

And yet, even though we remain susceptible to a similar kind of hurt, we continued to name our desires and to ask God if He could generously fulfill them. Our togetherness brought forth the courage and the sense of trust to press on. Writing my longings with Hannah felt safe. I knew in my gut that we would hold each other well as we made our dreams known in each other’s presence—no matter how bashful and even embarrassed we we felt in our disclosure! With our collective weekly ritual, I felt less ashamed about these hopes. On Thursdays at 4:00pm, I was seen.

Our togetherness brought forth the courage and the sense of trust to press on.

And there it was. How could I have missed it? The experiences I was looking and praying for had already been birthed in the Thursday tradition, growing in the existing sweet moments of vulnerability and kinship.

Here, I discovered how I’ve undervalued the magic of intimacy shared amongst friends. For the longest time, I was led on by this common and deceptive notion that friendships belong to the bottom part of the “hierarchy” of relationship categories. Oh, how I was misled!

If this viewpoint were to persist among us, it is no wonder we would place marital or dating relationships on a pedestal, where unavoidable pressure and unrealistic expectations are imposed upon our partner, spouse, and ourselves—leaving our spirits dissatisfied, hungry, and exhausted. How could I have missed that partners are not the only ones willing and able to meet my relational needs? How could I have missed that my community of friends and I can and have already been building a sense of home—with each other and within ourselves?

I realized now that the Holy One has been answering my prayers in the relationships that already exist. I now see how this manifests in my friendship with Casey, whom I can laugh, dance, and enjoy spontaneous food adventures with. Then there’s Rebekah, who can hold me in my complexities and absurd ideas that emerge from my faith journey and creative processes. I have Brian whom I can trust whenever I need to be listened to with a fierce kindness and an undivided attention. And then Zach, who simply understands who I am by bringing me sunflowers on a random afternoon. And then, of course, there is Hannah with our Thursday rhythm. With these friendships, I come prepared to be enchanted, to be introduced or reintroduced to the many ways the Divine shows up during our play, our conversations, and even in our letter-writing over a glass of red wine and a childlike anticipation of who we are already becoming.

I know now there are certain friends who make us better people, and who make us feel like we have already been pursued, chosen, and wooed.

We love the depth of community and intimacy that Gabes us inviting us to—an invitation to protect and cultivate those spaces where we can risk the vulnerability of seeing and being seen. For more on that magic of friendship, and what it takes to sustain a meaningful friendship for the long haul, you might enjoy this podcast series with Dan Allender and Tremper Longman.