Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Dear Hilary, Love, Hilary: Only a Glimpse

Dear Hilary,

I hit a wall in a friendship with someone not long ago. I wanted to connect, to reach out beyond myself and towards them. I wanted to make them feel at home in my heart, and I wanted to know the real answer, the messy and uncertain answer, that lies beyond what they say to just anyone. But they didn't let me in. They held me at arm's length, kept me at a distance. They were quiet. And now I'm at a loss - I want to know them, really know them. I want to be a part of their beautiful story. But I don't know how to enter that space. Can you help me, Hilary? How do you coax someone out from behind their walls?

Eager to be friends

Dear Eager to be friends,

The short answer to your question is: you wait. The long answer to your question is: you wait. The middle sized answer is, yes, you know this - wait. 

It's that simple, and that difficult. Since we've done the simple, maybe we should talk for a brief, fleeting moment about the difficult. What's difficult about this waiting, this sitting outside someone's heart and wondering if they're going to emerge, or if the doors and windows are locked tight? What makes the "no" they gave you sting so much?

I think there are probably a thousand answers to this dilemma of yours, and I can't pretend that mine are the wisest or the most beautiful, the most elegant or the gentlest. But I empathize with you, with our hearts and minds colliding with other people's locked doors and windows, with an eagerness to be near to someone meeting a hesitation on the other side. It's difficult because you're eager, sweetheart. It's difficult because what you're impatient for is a good thing.

You've recognized something in them, something beautiful, something true. You've been compelled by their mind or their heart or both, you went on a walk around Coy Pond and imagined being friends - really, truly friends - with them and holding their stories in your suitcase heart. You caught a glimpse of their glow and you want to be close to them. 

That's a good thing, love. It means you're paying attention to what is miraculous about people. Your eager heart is anxious to invite everyone inside. It's wild love. It's good. But at the same time it is good, it might not be time. And in love, timing is everything.

I don't mean timing as in - can you stay friends long distance, or you just met three seconds ago and you're leaving so it's all over, or you're moving to Antarctica or something. No, I mean the timing of our hearts. When we're ready to be vulnerable, to draw near to each other. When we feel the tug together. When we are willing and able to unlock doors and windows, to let our glow, well... glow.

You can't rush people into being ready to share their glow with you. You can't demand that they reveal the hidden treasures of their heart. You can't force someone you care deeply about to care at the same time, in the same way, in the same place... The "no" and the distance is difficult because your heart is hanging on the end of the line. The "no" is difficult because you see what it lovely in them and you want to rejoice in it. The "no" is difficult because you worry that it means you're not worthy enough or deep enough to contain the glow they carry inside them.

But can I tell you something, Eager? It is not a question of whether you could carry their heart. It is a question of whether or not you are meant to carry their heart right now. And you can't force or rush the answer to that question. 

The answer is "wait." Let the glow emerge in its own time, in the time that is right for who you are and who you want to become. Don't try to persuade or sweet talk them into letting those walls down - let time and wind and rain and laughter bring them down all on their own. Concentrate on loving what you do know about them, enjoying the wild gift of them... and make your heart warmer.

Wait, love. And while you're waiting to discover what you're going to be, whether you are going to be friends or lovers or simply two strangers who smile at each other? Give thanks for the glimpses of the glow.

Always, give thanks for the glimpses.



  1. Ah, yes, the simple difficult waiting! Show them you want to know them, and wait. It is hard, and sometimes so frustrating: is something wrong with me? is something wrong with them? did I say the wrong thing? am I too weird?
    But. You are right - the matter is the timing. And that is in our Heavenly Father's hands, not ours. And you know the most beautiful thing? When you've waited with that friend, for years, and they do open up, slowly, cautiously, and then they tell you that your willingness to be with them, and to let them be themselves with you, has been the most life-giving thing anyone has ever done. Their gratefulness goes so very very deep, and all you did was patiently wait, always being there, being willing.
    And it is all grace. And it is so beautiful.

  2. Oh my gosh, such a reminder that I needed!! Why is it sometimes so easy to forget to give thanks for the glimpses of radiance in others? That sometimes that's enough?


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