“Why did you do all this for me?' he asked. 'I don't deserve it. I've never done anything for you.' 'You have been my friend,' replied Charlotte. 'That in itself is a tremendous thing.”
~ E.B. White, Charlotte's Web
I have been so enjoying the warmer weather the last few weeks. It has allowed us to have evenings that include the kids playing in the breezeway with the neighbors. The older ones get excited as everyone pulls up from their days of school, work, etc. and they can't wait to run around like crazies until dinner time.
Last week my little miss, youngest of the bunch, approached the neighbor boy and quietly asked with a big grin on her face, "want to play?" Soon they were running back and forth, chasing the older ones. Their delighted laughter floated through the air, bringing a smile to my face.
As I watched my youngest ask for and make a friend, it had me thinking about how much simpler it would be if, as adults, we still approached making friends as we did when we were kids. When we were young, it seemed that we felt so much freer to be ourselves; to walk right up to someone and ask for a friend and for time together. No game playing, no what ifs, no bargaining - just the simple and open offer of ourselves, our time and our friendship.
At what age do we begin to lose that? When do we start second guessing ourselves or begin believing that offering just simply who we are as people isn't enough? It can be far too easy to buy into the lie that to be accepted and loved we need to look a certain way, own the coolest gadgets, wear the right clothes, have the best job, have the nicest house, and the list can go on and on.
I know that what draws me closer to my friends has nothing to do with what they own, wear or look like. It is the time we spend together, the ability to be myself with them, their honest acceptance of me and the knowledge that I'm doing the same in return. I know that these are the things I dearly love about my friendships, yet I still at times find myself falling into the trap.
I can let these mistruths fill my head with the belief that I have to pick out the perfect gift, have the perfect home or have the most well behaved children to be good enough. Or I can ground myself in what I know to be true - that my identity is not wrapped up in where I work, what I look like or what I own. My identity is found in me being a beloved, chosen and intentionally designed daughter of God.
I think understanding my true identity allows me to approach my friendships knowing that offering myself is enough. And when I know this, I believe that it allows me to be a better friend.
Because in the end, isn't that what most of us are looking for anyways? Someone who is willing to give of themselves as we do the same; the person to connect with, the people that know us.