There are two things I have found really difficult to master in this world. The most difficult of the two is this one- Faith.
Faith has many definitions. The one that involves “belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence” is the one I have always had trouble with. I have problems taking something at face value, as gospel, as the unquestionable truth, something you forbidden to explore and must just accept.
The aspect of faith that intrigues me and is my favorite is the “confident belief in the truth, value or trustworthiness of a person idea or thing.” This is what John Hiatt sings of in “Have a Little Faith in Me.” It’s about asking someone to rely on you, to believe they will be there for you, regardless of the circumstances. It’s about friends letting you know that even if you screw up, it doesn’t affect the common bond. Friends who have faith in you provide you that boost of energy for you when you need it. They are both an arm to cry on as well as your cheerleaders. It’s family at its best.
Before I got married, I knew it was right, because I had absolute faith in my husband. He had been there through the easy, fun times and the really tough, awful, hard stuff as well- when my sister was in a car accident and we weren’t sure if she’d make it, and when my Dad died. I knew I could count on him forever- I knew he would always tell me the truth, and be a partner always. It was scary to have someone be so close they knew all your great stuff and your bad sides, and loved you anyway. They had seen you high and low, and still thought you were just wonderful. I cried one day, just because I felt so vulnerable and because he had my absolute trust- giving up that level of control, and opening up to someone, where his critiques hurt so much, when I disappoint him it makes me weep, but that having someone to share every joy with , individually and together is just as important and wonderful. That’s faith in a nutshell. That’s trust.
With our friends, we have very few that fall into that level of closeness. People we let see the good stuff and bad. People whose opinions and feelings are like our own, and when they are disappointed or angry, we feel it deeper than with anyone else. I think part of the reason we have this “inner circle” of trust, so to speak, is that being that vulnerable to too many people would just leave us open to hurt too easily. It’s as if we parse out our trust to our friends in little pieces, gradually figuring out how much they can handle, and how much we are willing to let them handle. Each piece is like a bit of a test, and if they handle that well, then they can have a bit more.
Part of being friends also means managing your expectations of people. People have their own lives and can’t necessarily drop everything for you all the time- it had better be a REAL emergency if you need that kind of help and attention. And knowing when to ask for help, when to ask for guidance, when you need a hand and choosing the right person to make it so, that’s not easy either. Because that involves not only having faith and trust, but giving up control as well.
I try hard never to put my friends through a loyalty test, because no one should have to run an obstacle course to prove themselves to others- that’s what job interviews are for, I guess- jumping through hoops in the vain hopes of making an impression.
But part of this is also not setting people up for opportunities to fail, either. Part of it is not expecting more than people are prepared to give- to keeping the friendship and partnership equation in balance.
I spoke to a friend who was hurt and in pain this morning. I hope I helped in some way to make it a bit better. We’ve been back and forth in our friendship, but I know that even if we don’t see each other all that often, or talk all that frequently, this is someone I do have faith in. Whenever we do see each other, it’s like seeing a long lost relative- it’s one of those friendships that endures, that feels like the best aspects of family to me- someone I’ll love regardless of where the chips fall, and I know they feel likewise- this is unconditional love and acceptance of people, not marred by quid pro quo, but of genuine joy and happiness of being part of each others lives.
These kind of friendships are rare and special. I feel incredibly fortunate to have come across many people I would put in this category- people who live in my community, childhood friends, parents of my children’s friends, people I’ve worked with, people I’ve met through social media, and more. And while I wish I could spend my whole life with this tribe of truly special, lovely people, each of whom adds so much to my life, I also know, because we have faith in each other, that they also understand, and when we do see each other, it will be as if the time in between merely fades away, and we’re back to finishing each other’s sentences and speaking our own friendship language/code.
So while faith in the religious sense and in the “blind acceptance” eludes me, faith in the belief in people and things, in trust and in value- that is a cornerstone of my existence and happiness.