by Lisa T. Bergren
I used to scuba dive in my younger days. When we practiced for a deep water test, we’d use a rope to pull us downward. We’d stop about every 20 feet, adjust our dive vests, release the pressure from our ears, clear our mask, check our instruments and then look for our dive partner to give us a “thumbs-up” sign. Then we’d head down another 20 feet and do it all over again.
I can tell you the ocean looks a whole lot different at 120 feet beneath the surface than it does 20 feet down. It’s not better, necessarily. It’s the same ocean. It’s just somehow more intense, visceral, exciting, engaging. When you’re a hundred feet down, you’re in, baby. You’re experiencing something that few others get to see. And to do that beside a friend is special.
Scuba diving is a lot like friendship. Sometimes we get caught in the shallows, and the surge of the surface waves brushes us to and fro, separating us from our dive partners. Or we risk going a little deeper, but the tangles of a seaweed forest or even a shark distract us, and our partner disappears. A little farther down and a strong tidal current might threaten to pull us apart. Yet it’s only down deep, side-by-side, that things are a little less troublesome. There the waves feel like a gentle push and pull. And you can see the sharks and seaweed, but they’re distant, and not so alarming.
Precious few of our friends manage to dive deeper with us – to explore our new world side-by-side. Although women are relational beings, we often let our principal relationships slide when we have kids. Or, in the process of building our families, we end up moving to a new home, neighborhood or city and find we have to start all over again – and we haven’t moved deeper on the rope. While we can rely on our husbands, family and God to help fill the gap, special friendships – what I call “heart friends” – are vital to us too.
After I spoke about friendship recently, a young woman told me, “I don’t think I can make good friends. No one ‘fits’ with me.”
I understood her dilemma. Those heart friendships take a long time to build; they’re serious investments of time, emotion, trust and experience. But if we’re having trouble making and keeping friends, it might be time to take an honest look at ourselves. Is there some issue that needs to be resolved that’s interfering? Dare to ask yourself, What’s holding me back? Am I someone I’d want to befriend? Am I too snide? Irritable? Angry? Pessimistic? Am I honestly open to a deeper friendship?
Maybe you are open and in a good place to form a friendship – but you can’t seem to find anyone who might eventually hit that “heart friend” status. Here are seven notches to the Divin’ Deeper rope:
Risk stepping out. So many women are afraid to even try reaching out to others.
Invest the time. If you want to get closer to someone, you have to make the time.
Wrestle over big ideas. Talk over stuff that forces you deeper.
Share experiences. Attend retreats, family/ neighborhood gatherings, city parades, whatever!
Seek wisdom and advice. Find out what your friend would do in your situation.
Laugh … and cry. Dare to share things that move your heart in good and hard ways.
Study the Bible. Nothing binds women closer than diving into God’s Word together. Doing so will accomplish the first six notches above, and bonus … you grow closer to God too!
Diving deeper is worth all of the effort – the sticky wet suit that’s far from flattering, the heavy tanks of air, the risk of seaweed and surge and sharks. And the deeper you dare to go, the more you’ll experience the pleasures of God’s world, alongside a true friend.
Lisa Bergren is the author of over 30 books, including "Life on Planet Mom". She can be found on Facebook.com/lisa.t.bergren, Twitter @LisaTBergren, LisaTawnBergren.com or at home, in Colorado Springs, Colorado, with her family and BFFs.