We float in murky waters. The depth of our relationships is not determined by our sight alone- potential is worthless until we dive. People are as dynamic as the waters are turbulent. I think I’m complicated enough. Do I really have to share in the complications of interaction?
Although we don’t say it aloud, I think we share sentiments. Like water is buoyant and pushes us back to the surface, so the complexity of relationships drive us to shallowness. It’s so much easier to block our hearts- less vulnerability, less pain, less trust. I’ve tottered in the shallow end in many of my relationships.
Now, I think there is variation of depth even in spiritual friendships. But our unifier (you know, God) is more than physical and emotional. He is spiritual. So are we, and if we neglect that area in our friendships then we neglect a part of ourselves. When we interact in the spiritual we can relate along the path of eternity. Our friendships might look dirtier like that murky water. But when we swim through, we reach the clear blue of the ocean’s depths (don’t get washed away in this analogy’s incongruity).
How can we breach the soul to reach this picturesque landscape of a relationship? I’ve found the primary separator is pursuit. I like metaphors, so here’s one: in geosynchronous orbit, the International Space Station races around the planet more than a dozen times a day. To match the velocity and dock, a space shuttle would have to achieve a similar orbit- the distance from the earth in part determines the speed (so-called angular velocity). Getting closer to earth speeds the vessel. Our spiritual relationships should gravitate around God. We match- or closely match- the orbit of our community and thereafter inherit similar speed. We have to pursue God, so we consistently push ourselves closer to Him, gaining speed all the while. Along with us are our friends who are also gravitating towards Him. In this way, we are intimately connected. Friends without this focus are like comets. They pass by with fleeting curiosity, but cannot maintain a connection- their orbit is not focused on the nearby earth but on so many other curiosities that float through space. No matter how long or how important they are, eventually they’ll fade into the darkness unless they surrender to the orbit of God.
We must pursue God. Relationships of eternal substance can exist only in light of His reality. And, frankly, our growth stagnates unless we are eternally focused. A good spiritual friendship borne of vulnerability and genuine compassion with a focus on God seems to be a predictor of sustainable growth and joy.