I need REAL and I need DEEP.
I’m talking about friendships. I’m talking about interactions with other people.
Surface level conversations (or “small talks”) wear me out…and to be honest, they annoy me. Yet, in this season of life, I find myself surrounded by them.
I’ve discovered that finding REAL and DEEP has been harder in this season of being a stay-at-home mom. The only place where it was easy to find REAL and DEEP connection in this season was when I was in a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group a while back. Of course, the obvious reason why it’s hard is because I have a lot less interaction with the outside world as a stay-at-home mom. By default I often turn to social media to fill the need to connect. Welcome to the world of superficial interactions, comparisons, and…let’s call it what it is…bragging (I find myself doing it too). Now, I know that it’s not always about those things. There are a lot of good and honest interactions happening too. But sometimes, even with all the right intentions from those who post, those who read/view the posts are left with feelings of insecurity, “not good enough,” and loneliness.
It doesn’t just happen in the online world. In this season of being a mom to young kids, often times we can only make small talks with other adults while we try to keep track of our kids. This creates an atmosphere for conversations to stay at a superficial level. Then there’s the Southern culture that I’ve been introduced to in the last two years. “Superficial” seems to be intricately woven into the social structure of this culture. And by that, I don’t always mean fake. I mean that it can be difficult to go past the surface level of talking about kids’ birthday parties and the latest idea we found on Pinterest.
I need Deeper.
I need Authenticity.
I’m wired for heart-to-heart connection…and when you think about it, aren’t we all?
In addition to the challenge of getting past the superficial, there are the challenges of comparisons (which seems to be never ending for moms) and cliques. Yes, even in the adult world, there are still cliques that form, often unintentionally. It’s our natural tendency to stick to people we know and to stay in the circle, instead of taking the risk of befriending someone new.
Book clubs meet, coffees are sipped, stores are shopped, play dates had, and someone is inevitably left out. As an adult, I anticipated friendships would become easier for me, but I’ve found that they can be even more difficult. There are more schedules to judge, feelings and fears are more deep rooted, intentions more difficult to interpret, and comparisons are easier to make.
–Anna Rendell, Craving Connection
Last month (a few months ago now), I had an opportunity to authentically share from my heart, every day, for five days. It was in a class called Group Counseling (a class that teaches future counselors how to lead a counseling group). During the week we took on the “leader” role only once, but we took on the “group member” role every day in the same group.
It was such a meaningful experience for me for 3 main reasons:
- We bypassed the superficial stage. As you can imagine from a group of women all wanting to be counselors, the content of what we shared went from superficial to deep…fast. We shared our raw feelings and thoughts, often involving tears, for five days. There was no pretense. Authentic connections were made. It was so refreshing.
- There was no comparison. We were all equals in that group, and every person’s story mattered. The intensity of the hardships varied, but we valued each feeling that was shared. Nobody was more important than the other. It was the opposite of most social interactions we find ourselves in, of who gets the most “likes,” who is more fun to be with, who has a more popular or significant status, etc. When there is no comparison, every person feels valued and accepted.
- I was “in my zone.” I realized more than ever, that this is “my thing.” Some people are good at baking, some at interior decorating, some at teaching children. This is what I’m good at. Being real and going deep. Listening and understanding. Engaging in connections that go beyond the surface level. This was a satisfying experience for me, especially since I don’t feel like I’m “in my zone” often as a stay-at-home mom.
Transparency. Vulnerability. Authenticity. Connection. It was all there. So when it was time for the class to end…I cried. They were sad tears of not wanting to leave. I mourned for a few days, actually.
I long to find this type of connection in my everyday life, in this current season. I’ve been blessed to have several authentic friendships for most of my teen and adult life. It’s been a little more challenging for me since we moved to Greenville (although there are a couple of friendships that I feel are at the beginning stage of authenticity). It’s been on my mind a lot since I returned from my class. Through a friend’s recommendation, I bought two books on this topic: Never Unfriended and Craving Connection. I look forward to learning and discovering more about how I can establish this type of connection, with God’s guidance and help.
Another friend told me about a group study curriculum called Stuck, and how it leads the participants to go deep…fast. Hello? Sign me up, please! I am praying about possibly hosting this group at my house.
I also need to continue nurturing the long-distance, lifelong friendships that I do have. Life gets so busy for all of us. But I need REAL and DEEP connections. I love that we live in the generation of FaceTime and Skype. I have been blessed with some incredible lifelong friends, and no matter how much time has passed since our last talk, I know that we can get REAL and DEEP as soon as we pick up the phone again. I need to take advantage of these connections more.
However way it unfolds, I know that authentic connection is what I need…really, what we all need. I need REAL. I need DEEP. I need to know and be known. I need to love and be loved. Yes, I have my husband, but I also desperately need deep connection with other women. This quote sums it up so well.
To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.