Do you ever look across a restaurant in envy at a beautiful pair of women, whose heads are bent close, either laughing or maybe listening attentively to each other? Do you see Facebook pictures with captions of “my bestie” that pierce your heart with a little sting of longing? Do you wonder why you feel a little lonely? Lonely although your life is full. Maybe you have a wonderful husband and four great kids like I do? Or maybe you have a wonderful extended family or group of friends? But somehow you are still waiting for THE friend.
I have a few friends that I know are lifer’s. Lifelong friends that neither time nor distance can sever our relationship. I am grateful. Beyond grateful really. I am sustained by their friendship.
I have a great relationship with my husband. In so many ways, he is my best friend. Except one.
He is male.
Sometimes we need women. A friend who laughs so hard she snorts at the parenting drama you just lived through. Or the giddy delirium of laughing at all the hormonal craziness we women live through. Or how about the shared stories of childbirth? Or maybe the understanding of how deeply your husband can wound you even though he loves you?
I have had some friends who have drifted. Or I have drifted. Not out of any trauma but just life or location got in the way and we don’t share the same intimacy we once did. We grew apart instead of towards each other.
I have had one friend that I experienced a huge amount of joy, shared interests, children who were similar ages, and just a deep soul connection. That friendship ended in a bar fight. Ok. Not really. But it was as bloody in heart and felt like betrayal of the highest sort.
The pain at first felt like phantom pains you experience when losing a limb. I had to relearn life. In every moment of my day, it felt like I was missing an arm. I no longer had someone I could call in the middle of the night if a kid needed to go to the emergency room. I had no one I could call and let the tears leak out my eyes when I experienced deep pain. I no longer had that family to call and go to the pool with or a summer evening hike. I lost my running partner. I lost my prayer friend. We used to run the trails by my house and pray for our kids, our husbands, and ourselves. We dreamed of ministering to women together. It was fun to share a dream.
I read a book by Lisa See called Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. They have a chinese word, Laotang, that means “Old same.” It describes a friendship that is kind of your other half or other self. I think of that kind of friendship when I think of Jonathon and David of the Bible. A deep, soul-ful and unusual friend.
I live today, having experienced that kind of friendship, but also experiencing it’s loss.
It wasn’t perfect. I can think of things that at the time I didn’t realize were unhealthy but do now. The biggest revelation after the loss was that I had been giving too much weight to my friend’s opinion of me. The other revelation? The loss was so great, the betrayal so large that I am not sure I am willing to go through it again.
I don’t look for that kind of friend anymore. I have closed up that part of my heart. Covered it daily with glasses of wine, a new book, and just cowering from the pain. I feel vaguely dissatisfied with my other friendships. If you peer under the surface you will see an “I can take or leave this relationship” regard.
And deep inside I am lonely. With all the good I have, I am lonely. Sometimes I feel silly for being lonely. But it’s true. I am.
And during this writing moment, I struggle to not dismiss it. To write next how blessed I am to have Jesus, my husband, my kids, and the other’s in my life. It’s true.
But that dismissal is not honoring my heart.
My heart’s truest words right now are:
I miss my old same. I miss that amputated part of my life. I am lonely. I am numb to both the good and the bad in my life because if you crawl down to the heart of me, I am sad. I do not have hope for this part of my life. I do not ask Jesus for another good friend. I don’t know if I could trust again. I don’t know if I could handle the wild possibility of loss.
Jesus. Here is my heart. I want to ask you to heal it but I don’t have faith to believe you can.
Yet, I love you and choose you. Be your wild, unruly, loving self with me. Take me to surrender and hand me fistfuls of faith.
Jill Dyer lives in Central Oregon with her husband and four children. She loves to write, backpack, do Crossfit, and go on scavenger hunts for the deep-hearted voices present in each person on this amazing earth.
Thank you for sharing your heart about this! Now I don’t feel so alone. I’ve been curious lately about my own longings for a best friend. I have several life long relationships & good friends, but have started wondering if there was something wrong with me or the way I friend that pushes people away. Add to that the fact that anyone I have grown close to lately either moves or changes churches so it is challenging to grow together with someone. I miss the days of having a friend to hang out with that doesn’t require a scheduled play date, or mother’s night out, or double date. Yes I’m grateful that those things are all fun, but there’s a lot to be said for the kind of friend who is free to just hang out and be. I’m working on becoming that friend to others & fighting to keep my heart open…even if it requires scheduling that time on a calendar in this season of life.
You have so beautifully articulated the heart cry of most every woman I know. We have all known the loss and betrayal you speak of and your generosity with your own story speaks that we are not alone in the ache that our hearts hold. Thank you Jill.
Yep, you got this right. I relocated about 6 months ago and my heart hurts from missing my 3 best, best friends. Life is radically different without them, and at 60, I feel an urgency, and as though there’s just not enough time left to develop that closeness with someone new and then reap the mutual benefits. To have close women friends is not to be underrated. Thanks for this.
I love the longings and the not”yetness’ of your writing. It makes me want to say “ah,yes” to every other sentence. When my daughters got married I told them to find, make and keep good women friends. They make a good marriage so much better.
Thank you Jill for your raw honesty in describing your loneliness as well as your reluctance to hope for another deep friendship. Your words brought tears for me as they pricked wounds my own heart carries, and though it is sad, I also don’t feel quite as alone because I’m not the only one who’s experienced this pain. I love where you end your prayer, asking for “fistfuls of faith.”
Ladies. Thank you each for responding. I did not know until today that this was even published. I must have overlooked an email. It both breaks and mends my heart to hear this is a common theme for many of us. May we hope for deep friendship, may we risk praying for it, and may we know we are longing for Kingdom intimacy when it falls short. My heart is buoyed by our commonality today.