If you were to ask the people in my life way back when, they would have said I was a pretty good friend. They also would have said that I was surrounded by a lot of people, and some of those were close.
Yet I know the real truth.
While I loved the people around me, there was a barrier. It was invisible. You had to work hard to break that wall down — and when you were inside that wall with me, I was still a little wary.
With every barrier that you and I have in relationships — whether in a marriage, with the world at large, with ourselves, and with friends — there’s usually a reason for that.
Mine was tied to being hurt by people that were meant to nurture me, but who didn’t know how.
The problem comes when that reason keeps you from really great and deep friendships.
Recently Holley, Jennifer, and I talked about the good, the bad, and the ugly of friendship on our More Than Small Talk podcast. I was surprised when Jennifer and Holley both said they remember the day they were “in” with me. It wasn’t anything big. It didn’t take a long time. They simply knew that our friendship was deeper and I was giving them all of me.
I honestly thought all the barriers were in the past. But as I pondered this, I realized that barrier was gone and in its place was simply a healthy pause.
Oh, Suzie, that’s still a barrier.
Honestly, it’s not. In the past, the barrier was high. It was protective at all times. It kept people at a distance. It not only protected me, but in a way my heart was trying to protect them because of my insecurities.
When I think about how God broke down that barrier one brick at a time, I’m blown away by the woman left standing. A little vulnerable, yes. Hopeful, yes. More accepting of myself, which led to lots of grace for others.
What’s the difference between a barrier and a healthy pause?
- A healthy pause recognizes that not every person is meant to be your best friend, but the potential for a really great friendship is there and you are open to that.
- A healthy pause means you realize not every person is perfect (including you and me), and there’s grace as you take it deeper.
- A healthy pause means that you recognize the difference between work-in-progress and someone who belittles, hurts others intentionally, is not safe or is toxic, and you are free to acknowledge that and not try to fix it, or make it your fault, and to let that person go.
- A healthy pause recognizes that no one person is intended to meet your every need (or you theirs). Only God can do that.
- A healthy pause means that one bad relationship doesn’t define every future relationship.
- A healthy pause allows for seasons in friendships, understanding that it may be for a time or for a lifetime.
- A healthy pause doesn’t run away from this good thing God is trying to give you, but open to the adventure.
When I look at my close friendships today, I feel immensely grateful. Sure, it took time as God healed this girl’s heart and that’s okay. It’s never too late to grow in any area of our heart or life.
Is God asking you to let him break down a barrier and replace it with a healthy pause?
As you ask him to help you (and he will) and as those barriers come tumbling down, my prayer is that you’ll find one or two or a handful of people who are not perfect, who may have different experiences, different stories, different hopes and dreams, and may be in different stages of life, but who you can be yourself with.
And that those relationships make each of your lives just a little richer.
I have some resources for you.
First, I want to invite you to listen, subscribe to, and be a part of the More Than Small Talk podcast with myself, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Watson.
Next, I am excited to invite you to join me in my smaller TogetHER Bible Study and Community of Facebook.
It’s a group of friends from around the world that want to learn how to live free together, and come alongside others who want to live free too.
It’s informal. It’s relational. We also dig deep into four TogetHER studies a year.
We will start a new study titled, “Saying Yes When Your Heart Says Run,” this next Monday.
It’s a 3-week gather-round-the-table study and there’s a seat for you! All you need is your journal, a Bible, and a heart ready to go! (Friendship is one of those good or God things that we may struggle to say yes to, and we’ll talk about that as well.)
I hope I see you there!