When I started dreaming up posts for this series, I ran through traditional adventure tropes in my mind. What shows up in every good adventure story? One of the first that came to me was that in every adventure, there is a company: a group of people traveling together on the same journey. Often they are an incredibly rag-tag bunch -- some prepared for the journey, some not, cobbled together out of experience, chance, and circumstance. They may not always end up in the same place -- the group may split partway through the story -- nor will they always meet the same fate. But for this stage of the journey, for this part, they are together, for better or for worse. I like to call these people your adventure-companions -- at least in my head. Out loud I call them your people.
I'm an introvert by nature. This initially came as a huge surprise to me, because the stereotype that introverts often meet is that they like to avoid people. This is absolutely not true of me. I have historically loved people, probably because I LOVE to talk. However, this summer, I found that while I love people, I also crave solitude, margin, time by myself to reset and remind myself of who I am and Who God is. Sometimes I choose solitude over company. There have been many times I just shut myself in my room because I had had a long day and I just wanted to be alone.
But aloneness doesn't fill me. Yes, it resets and reminds and heals. But solitude does not encourage me or speak to my heart. And I desperately crave someone to speak to my heart. I need that, deep in my heart where I am held together by the light and love and grace of God. And when I exist primarily as a creature of solitude, I shut out all opportunity to be met where my heart is. And I become lonely.
In Emily P. Freeman's Simply Tuesday, she writes about feeling the same loneliness, and about the solution to it:
In my loneliness, thought I knew a lot of people and had many acquaintances, I doubted if any of them truly knew me. It was during this time that I realized I had two choices. I could either continue as I was, waiting for people to show up and surround me, or I could decide to move toward people myself. Would I rather people just come to me? Yes. Would I rather be pursued than pursue? Yes. But more than these. I would mostly just rather not feel so lonely.
To be truthful, we were made to be with other people. We were made for God, yet we were also made for one another. We were made for those people we call "our people," who meet our hearts where they are and speak life and truth into us. We deeply desire someone to meet us there, but not everyone is going to seek you out for that. Sometimes we have to move toward others, though we would rather be the moved-toward.
I read an excellent blog post yesterday entitled How to Find Your People. Kendra, the author, tells about a time she became dear friends with two girls on a bus purely because they were talking about The Lord of the Rings. Kendra was a fully grown woman, and these girls were teenagers, but it didn't matter: these were her people, because they shared their hearts, and Kendra's heart lined up with theirs. She shares one of the most beautiful lines I've ever seen written on the Internet: "We find our people by being the truest versions of who we are." This means vulnerability. It means willingness to show people that you aren't perfect. It means willingness to let down your guard and reveal the most secret parts of yourself. I'm not saying that everyone you meet needs to be allowed unfettered access into the most tender parts of your heart. But your people are the ones who will receive that access and walk into the sanctuary with gentleness and care, giving life, not taking it.
I don't know about you, but I have only a small handful of people that meet those criteria. Maybe five or six, not counting my mother. And you know what? That's okay. Not that many people receive unfettered access. But these people are, without a doubt, my adventure companions. They are my safe place. I have cried in their arms. I have told them things I don't tell anyone. They have pressed into me, and I have broken into a thousand pieces. They have seen me at my best and at my worst. They have unfettered access, and they do not abuse it; in fact, they love me in it. With them, I can be the truest version of who I am. And that's how you know you've found those adventure companions.
They may not be with you for the entire journey. At least, not physically. College friends grow up, graduate, move away, start a new life. That happens as each person moves on to the next phase of their adventure. I'm graduating in May, and within the space of a few short months, I will move away from here into whatever next phase God has for me. But for now, for this part of the journey, I am here with them and they with me, and we are tied together by bonds of friendship that are so dear to me. For this part of the journey, they've got my back. They are true to me, and I to them, and we help one another along the way. We are in this together. They're my adventure-companions.
They're my people.
Interested in the post "How to Find Your People"? Its home site, The Lazy Genius Collective, launched yesterday! The tagline is "Be a genius about the things that matter and lazy about the things that don't." I love it.