On Fiercely Loving Your People

friendship

Last week we hosted Friendsgiving at our house. We shoved 15 adults and way too many kids into our condo, and ate and fellowshipped, and laughed too hard and said many inappropriate things, and it was just the best. It wasn’t a dinner party with a seating arrangement and fancy food and proper parking spaces (thanks neighbors, for the generous use of your driveways). It was just an opening of our space to some beloved friends, our small offering to our people. Complete with mimosas and breakfast food, because we are classy like that.

Getting to love on our people is such a beautiful privilege. Sharing space, food, words and laughter—this is such a divine gift, and we were just built for it. We were crafted for connection with others, for sharing our hearts and welcoming people into our lives without reservation.

This sincere, sweet brand of friendship is my absolute favorite. In order to have it, though, we have to trust our friends with our true selves, and I fear all too often we are afraid to do that.

That fear is sometimes a practical measure of self-preservation. Many of us wear the scars of broken friendships. Abandonment, unresolved conflict, heartbreak. These deep hurts sear holes into our hearts, and they can resurface with a vengeance when we start letting people in. Should I say that? Should I offer up that piece of my heart? Is it safe?

kiddos

friends

Sometimes the fear is just a manifestation of our own insecurities. Am I boring? Annoying? Did I respond to that text too quickly? How are they going to take what I just said? Am I—in all my weaknesses and imperfections—enough?

I know what it’s like to be afraid to really put it all out there for my friends. I used to think and overthink what I should say, analyzing how it would be perceived. I’ve held back from really letting my friends know how much I care about them, for fear that it wouldn’t be reciprocated.

But I’ve come to realize that all that overthinking and dreading and holding back is such a waste of effort and energy. I decided instead to trust my true friends with my true self, full stop. The me that says weird things, who’s blunt and awkward and overly opinionated, whose sarcasm is sometimes so thick it’s hard to decipher. Who loves hard and doesn’t always shower and usually doesn’t clean before you come over. Because at the end of the day, the ones who stay despite those things, who still want to share that space despite its messiness—they are the ones I want in my corner.

If you’re struggling to really dig in deep with your friends, may I offer this suggestion? Love your people wholeheartedly, with wild abandon. Welcome them in with arms and heart wide open. Love them like you loved the best friend you made on your first day of first grade. Obviously. Obnoxiously. Without fear. This is how Jesus loves us. This is how we should love.

Is there a risk associated with this kind of intense people loving? Of course. Hurt, betrayal, rejection, loss—these are all possibilities when you decide to deeply love your friends.

And unfortunately, not everyone is a safe friend. It takes time and experience and many moments with someone to be able to put them into that safe category, and not everyone you encounter is going to earn a place there.

But once you find your people—the ones who have put in the time, who have demonstrated trustworthiness and loyalty and reliability—lean in. Don’t hold your people at arm’s length, terrified that at any moment they might walk away. Give them the gift of your real self, and trust in the truth that you are indeed enough.

The rewards of this kind of soul-deep friendship so, so outweigh the risks. Go love your people, friends.

To our shared story,

Chelsea

Photos by Andrew and Tianna Photography

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