Single in the City: Courageous Friendship

Shobana Vetrivel   |   October 10, 2014 

Friendship-courage

This past weekend I helped out at a camp for early teens, and inevitably, observing them brought back memories of my own teenage years. The phase when who your friends were, who you hung out with and even more who hung out with you, mattered so much.

It's quite traumatic to not to have anyone to hang out with or call your friend. And if that is the case, the pressure to change who you are is huge. To become someone more acceptable, popular, whose taste in music, books, movies, etc. is more in tune with everyone else around.

As I look back, I guess there were times I tried to fit in. Times when I pretended to be more sporty (always unsuccessfully), more extroverted, more sarcastic and maybe even attempted to show interest in books and movies that I was really not a fan of.

But somewhere I know that a shift happened, I began to be a little bit more honest about who I was. Maybe I began to even understand myself more. The radical moments were when I slowly discovered that some others felt the same way I did. Or at least didn’t run away from me or avoid me when I was honest.

That is truly when friendship begins. C. S. Lewis rightly states, “Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . ."”

That is however only the beginning and it’s easy to be honest about my likes and dislikes. I am not setting myself up for too much exposure there. The temptation is to protect and guard myself rather than letting someone into the deep and dark recesses of my heart.

Being vulnerable has been the hardest thing to do and even though I feel exposed and open, it is always liberating and has always allowed the friendship to go deeper. In most of my friendships, the other person has had the courage to be vulnerable and paved the way for me to follow.

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren't always comfortable, but they're never weakness.” - Brené Brown

Vulnerability requires trust and courage, but even when trust has been betrayed, I know I would rather be vulnerable than a closed shell. It requires me to extend the same grace when I am on the other side of vulnerability and to be ready to listen and embrace without judgment.

I have realised that I need to be loyal to my friends, even more so when they are not around. The proverb is true that “a gossip separates close friends." While I can speak my mind and say what I want to with my friends, what I say about them to others is just as important.

More friendships have been ruined by gossip and misunderstanding than time, separation and distance. I can’t come up with a list of what to do and what not to do, but there is great value in sorting out issues directly - in proactively not misunderstanding, in being deaf and mute when it comes to gossip, in displaying loyalty through our words and being ready to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Even times when I have experienced deep hurts in friendships, forgiveness has always been worth it.

“We must become, must be known as, the people who don’t hold grudges, who don’t sulk. We must be the people who know how to say 'Sorry.' And know when to respond when other people say it to us.” - N. T. Wright

It has saved me a lot of anxiety and tension when I view friendship as a covenant, where I make the decision to belong and commit, despite expectations not always being met, despite experiencing hurt at times and despite it being easier to cut off rather than work it out.

Friendships flourish not with each fulfilling the expectations of the other, but the fact that we share the same truth, something greater than ourselves. The One who has chosen to call me ‘friend’, who displays faithfulness when I have been unfaithful, who is full of grace and truth, gives me the strength and courage to do the same.

There is so much more to friendship but for now I am deeply grateful to be blessed with friends who have displayed vulnerability, loyalty, forgiveness and commitment. The people I would run to for advice, who pray for me, whose wounds I trust more than the flattery of the others, who allow me to be myself and who have had the courage to be themselves.

 “Christ, who said to the disciples, "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you," can truly say to every group of Christian friends, "Ye have not chosen one another but I have chosen you for one another." The friendship is not a reward for our discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each of us the beauties of others.” - C. S. Lewis

What are the qualities of an ideal friend? Let us know in the comments below.

 

Photo Credit: Katherine Lim via Flickr cc

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Shobana Vetrivel

Shobana Vetrivel enjoys the hustle and bustle of city life and the adventure of living in New Delhi. She has an educational background in social development and theology and has worked in both development and ministry settings. She currently works with Delhi School of Theology and is pursuing a PhD in Practical Theology. Books, travelling, theology, coffee and deep conversations are a few of her favourite things.  

12 comments on “Single in the City: Courageous Friendship”

  1. "I have realised that I need to be loyal to my friends, even more so when they are not around. " That is something I believe in strongly too and I know you live it out.
    Beautifully written, Shobi.

  2. Being introvert has its own merits but once you meet a friend who pulls you out of that closed shell, things become quite different. You start exploring, be vulnerable, open up more. Its a feeling hard to express. Sticking around with the introvert tag isn't an option any more. On the flip side, the worst part is, once you get into that mode, going back gets tough. Not talking to your best bud becomes a challenge, hard to overcome. Vulnerability is exploited more often than not; trusting anyone who "listens" to you.

    Sharing just a part of me. Your beautifully put together article made me do so 🙂

    1. Thanks Paritosh and for sharing ! I am an introvert as well and my friendships haven't changed that part of me too much, I still need my alone time to recharge 🙂

  3. The article shows that you are experiencing transitions and embracing new realities.

    ...and THAT is always great.

    I didnt know you wrote so well and that you expressed yourself so fluently. Guess you should be writing and sharing your thoughts more often!

    Look forward to more interesting and thought provoking articles.

    Ashish

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