I love having friends! They send you these marvelous things that you would never find on your own. I like the email messages with some small article attached or the funny pictures or the serious ones of their child’s wedding. My friends expand my world, and I so appreciate the growth. We are born connected to another person, and we spend the rest of our lives working on making connections with others. Remember your first friend in school or your neighborhood? I know people who have friends from the toddler group that their mothers took them to. I admire the ability to keep in touch with someone who met you when you were in diapers. From playing with blocks and soft squishy toys through the angst of teen years and the separation of college to adulthood is a remarkable history.

Who is your longest friend? Maintaining friendships takes time and energy. The payoff is that you are “known”. How often do we all want to be known or seen? From the small parts of life where we want to get our turn in line at the grocery store to the big scenes where we want our boss to mention our work and effort on the latest project and how well it turned out. We all want to be “known”.

How does this “knowing” happen? Have you ever wondered if you are sharing too much? Can you see others shrinking when you go into deeply personal places that they are not ready to receive? Or do you hold back and not tell your stories for fear that others will distance themselves from you or not be interested or even go so far as to behave as though you have not shared at all? I know you have had one or maybe all of these experiences. We want to be “known” yet the process is not always clear.

The key is taking risks and being transparent while respecting that your friend has wants and needs as well. Recognizing the boundaries of the other is an important part of building a friendship. When you cross your friends’ boundaries, you also need to be able to receive feedback respectfully. Each of us has boundaries that enable us to feel safe, confident, and whole.

Your friendships are a vital part of your life whether they start when you were a toddler or just this past week when new neighbors arrived. We all need to be connected.