Shrek: “Ogres are like onions.”
Donkey: “They stink?”
Shrek: “No. LAYERS. Onions have layers…. Ogres have layers.”
Donkey: “You know, not everybody like onions.”
Donkey: “CAKE! Cake has layers. And parfaits. Everybody likes parfaits.”
Friendships have layers too. Today’s societal tendency is to stay on the surface, because, well, we all know that the friendship could be like an onion, and make you cry the deeper you get into it. BUT, what if instead of an onion, it’s a parfait? And you never get to taste the sweetness that’s buried beneath the surface, because you’ve held it at arm’s length?
Peeling back the layers is scary. Getting real with people is scary. You’re exposing places of yourself that can cause old wounds to sting, embarrassing traits to be seen, and bad decisions to be judged. But it has only ever been worth it, in my experience. Even when I got hurt. That’s usually when I learned the most about myself. Getting to the heart –and hard stuff– is usually how we get to know each other, as well.
And think about it! We feel important when our friends have the guts to open up to us! The shear joy, honor and esteem makes us feel loved, accepted, and valued by this person, our peer, who had faith to tell us about the REAL stuff that’s going on in their world. So make THEIR day and spread the love, value and acceptance. But I have 3 points of warning.
1. Don’t act like your pain is worse than mine. Everyone’s been through something hurtful. Obviously, at varying degrees, but the emotions that these varied experiences create are often very comparable. You can only speak for yourself.
2. Gossip disguised as a prayer request. “Did you hear, our mutual friend so-and-so is considering divorce, so would you pray for them?” Listen, I BELIEVE IN THE HEALING POWER OF PRAYER, but I also believe in the destructive power of gossip. It can destroy the joy in our own hearts, as well as tear down friendships, trust, and love for one another. If your mutual friend so-and-so has given permission for you to share, then by all means, be my guest. But if not, you must take it up with the Holy Spirit.
3. If you dish it, be willing to take it. Being a good listener. It takes practice, people. And it’s not always fun, but it’s an excellent character-building exercise. And much like physical exercise, there’s quite a sense of accomplishment that comes with it. Not to mention, deeper trust, relational intimacy, and you never know, you might just learn something about your friend that you didn’t know. More blackmail material for later.