I get really hungry every few hours. I'm talking stomach growling, pain inducing, bad-mood-hunger that has the power to ruin even the most fun experience, until I get a snack or a meal (or both). My husband calls me "Gremlin Griffin" when I begin to lash out due to starvation, and the words, "Do you need to eat something?" are a common occurrence in our household. When any of us feels this level of need, our response is to do the most natural thing: eat. Fill up. Be satisfied. Starvation is not an option. I find it funny that we never cease to take care of our basic needs, but the less obvious hunger pains in our lives get put on the back burner. I've had some really solid life chats with friends, new and old, throughout the past week. (Life chat = a phone call, a coffee shop date, or a cozy spot on the couch with about three hours of talking built in.) A central theme in many of my conversations has been about some of those deeper needs that we shove aside: loneliness, a lack of communication, the absence of community, a sense of discomfort in our surroundings. We feel these things gnawing at our hearts for quite some time, but we can't always see them without a sounding board, via a friend.
Moving multiple times throughout the last decade of my life has given me a different perspective on authentic friendship and the work that it takes to build a lasting bond. If I could sum it up in a single thought, I believe that it's easy to be "friends" with people in your immediate social circle. However, it's a very different beast to build and maintain relationships throughout different seasons of life and moving across the country. Just like marriage, friendships have to be filled with vulnerability, attention, and sometimes, the hard truth.
Long before Facebook made it so, the act of befriending someone was deemed a verb. Being a great friend takes action, it takes calling someone to fill them in on 5 minutes of your day or a text to remind them that you're thinking of them. These little moments of connection and authenticity are necessary because none of us grow and change at the same rate, unfortunately. We all venture through different seasons of life and challenges, so it takes effort to build connection when circumstances so easily create distance.
Ultimately, I believe that friendships (and all relationships) are maintained when both people are honest about how hungry they are for community and each other's presence in their lives. We all need to feel needed. We all like to know that we're valuable. Strong community is built and maintained when the people involved take the time to express their need for relationship and are intentional about filling someone else's void.