Thursday, April 11, 2013

What does it take to be a friend?

I'm an introvert, and like a lot of other bloggers who've admitted this, it's easier for me to connect with people virtually rather than in person. I love reading about other people's lives, and seeing the photos of their homes/kids/craft projects/etc. I love to share my life with others....but I'm not very good at it in person unless I've known you for a VERY long time, or you're a gentle extrovert who makes me feel safe about sharing my thoughts.

The problem is that my thoughts rarely seem to be about things that other people are thinking about or interested in. I don't seem to have much to share in normal situations. It feels like I think too deeply or too widely for most people to be comfortable in a conversation with me. I'd probably make a great college professor but that's not the way to have strong personal relationships.

This past week at confession, Padre said that my strong intellect is sometimes my enemy. That opened the floodgates and I ended up crying for the next hour at Eucharistic Adoration (a 7-kleenex cry!). This is something I've struggled with all my life and to have someone actually NAME it was such a relief. The Pirate (who of course has had to live with this struggle all our married lives) reminded me when I told him why I was so wrung out (of course I started crying again in trying to tell him) that my intellect is also a gift from God. At the moment I don't see it - I'm just so exhausted from wrestling that I can't imagine this thing being a help in my desire for real connections with people.

This is the season for a re-set in my life, since I just retired at the beginning of the year. In my professional life I needed a strong intellect and I could use it to help others, so my work was very satisfying. However, last year I realized that God was guiding me in a different direction, so I let go of my professional life and have been deeply happy to be able to be a full-time wife and homemaker again (I love that word - what could be more noble than being the one who makes a house a home?)

One thing is lacking - which truth be told has been missing in most of the seasons of my life: the regular communion of deep friendship. Happily, my beloved husband provides this, but I'm realizing that for many years my clients were the people that I spoke to most often and the most deeply (outside my marriage) and now I've got a big relational empty space in my life. I would love to be like Pope Francis, of whom someone said "He doesn't say much, but he's very warm." That's how I showed up for clients; why can't I show up like that for others? I recently read a post by another blogger that asked the question, "do you want to be special, or so you want to be connected?" BUSTED! I have a feeling that this is going to be God's theme for me until I "get" it.

In one way, living in Mexico among Mexicans is a great help with this struggle, since there's no chance that I'd want to (or be able to) engage in deep conceptual conversations with these warm and gracious people who are my neighbors and friends. Here I feel like I've really accomplished something if I can have a good conversation about the surface things that I can't bring myself to talk about with English-speakers because it all seems so trite. I'm beginning to see that the triteness is in my head, that the simple conversations are the necessary connectors between people.

I'm hoping that someone reads this post and responds to it. I really don't want to just be talking to myself.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful and transparent post. I would love to be your neighbor! I can't imagine you being anything but warm and inviting!

    My husband is a lot like you in that I think he is somewhat introverted and definitely the intellectual. He has a few close friends, and truth be told, most of the time when they get to talking I tune out it gets so deep.

    I'm more extroverted, but I find lately between time being tight and energy being low, I find forcing myself to be social in surface chit chat is just not appealing. It's a conundrum since most of my friends are also busy with work and family. Meeting new people seems exhausting when I can't catch up with the ones I know.

    You make such a keen observation, though, that the surface conversations are essential to building a foundation to go deeper. I forget that a lot of the time. Thanks for your honesty and insight!


I'd love to know your thoughts!