So one of my strange hidden hobbies is to play sociologist, and one of the stranger ways that I have found to do that is by scanning various social media or dating sites (or in today’s case Craigslist.) I started doing this back in seminary as an means of learning about what people were craving from their community so that I could better understand how to create a fulfilling community around the needs of our current generation. It never ceases to amaze me just what people will put out there in there Facebook posts, dating profiles, or Pinterest pictures (or what they request from those who are reading them…) Just when I thought I had found the most unique or bold posting, and needless to say over the years there have been a plethora of things written that I do not feel need repeating, someone would write something that would far surpass anything I wanted to read. For the most part I have learned that no response is usually the best route; however earlier this month one particular Craigslist add caught me off guard, and it simply read, “conscious friendship wanted.”
Wow. Interesting. I clicked the add half not knowing if i would be met with an ad for a depression support group or a plea from someone whose friends had recently been knocked unconscious; however, I was surprisingly impressed to find an insightful message signifying the quest of a young man of whom wrote: (and I do not think there will be a problem with me posting this as it was first on craigslist)
“Did you know that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with (including yourself)? I am a 22-year old college graduate who is about to start medical school in the fall. I have discovered that I need more substantive relationships in my life as most of my friendships thus far have been confined to a rather superficial level. I don’t subscribe to the idea that male friendships are just about sports, women drinking and ‘hanging out.’ I am looking to meet guys who are interested in deepening and evolving friendships. If you are someone who feels ‘alone’ because they are desperate for deeper male bonding or really wants male friendships based upon mutual support and understanding, please contact me. I value authenticity and love to have fun exploring just how amazing male friendships can be. I want to surround myself with people who are passionate about something in their lives, who value their emotions and supporting one another
emotionally and who are driven/focused on making their dreams a reality. I am looking for guys who love taking care of their minds, hearts and bodies and want to share that, whether it’s going out and playing basketball or figuring out how to achieve the next step in their lives. If any of these qualities describe you and you are looking for that sense of support and brotherhood that you may not be currently getting, please contact me. I would absolutely love to meet and get to know you.”
I was in a bit of a state of awe by this guy’s honesty and as well his wisdom. Curiosity and admiration won out so I responded to him, not thinking that I was going to be one of these “conscious friends,” but instead to praise him for his bold ad on such a public forum. “Hey,” I started off. ” My name is Ryan and I just read your ad… I wanted to take the chance to let you know how powerful a statement that you made and I have no doubt that you touched a lot of people with your honesty. We are a lonely society and for some reason, admitting our loneliness is seen as a weakness. Thanks so much for putting yourself out there and allowing others the chance to identify with you.” And I signed it, “in hopes that you find the companionship that you long for, Ryan.”
Well it took but a few minutes before my inbox chimed with his response. “Thank you” he stated, and my email had intrigued him enough that I had gained the opportunity to move to the first round of conscious relational it’s testing. “Will you fill out a survey to see if we match up” he asked.
“We’ll this isn’t what I was going for” I thought as I stared at the email. As I thought through things though, I realized that I was just as much in need of deep relationship as anyone else, and what the hell did I have to lose other than the time that it took me to fill out this “survey.” Well… The survey that he hit me with was intense to say the least! It took the better part of 45 minutes to get through and really caused me to dig a little bit into the recesses of my own mind and thoughts. There were questions about faith, passion, past and present relationships, dreams, family, and the like; all the while creating more questions in my mind as I thought about my life through them! At the culmination of the interrogation, the young man sent me the answers that he had written out to the same questions (it made me feel a little better to know that I was not the only one that had to trudge through writing an essay mosaic of autobiographical implications. Anyway,
I was slightly taken aback at the parallel nature of our responses. “I’ll be damn” I thought… “I might have just made a friend!!”
Anyway, I actually met him this weekend and we went for a walk reflecting on the need to find companions that challenge you, inspire you, and aid you in your unique quests in this world. We spoke of the value of truly deliberate friendships that provide fulfillment both in playfulness as well as depth; support in times of need; laughter, tears, and conversation as they demand; and finally motivation to achieve all that we were set out to achieve.
I do not write all this simply to tell a story, but to challenge everyone to take a look at thief relationships in this life. What would it look like if we all were bold enough to say that we were lonely? …and loneliness can occur despite having 2000 Facebook friends and a twitter following. In my life l have long sought out a deliberate relationship with God; a unique and special mutually cohesiveness with my creator, parent, and friend. Many of us put effort into our search for a relationship with someone we hope to marry, as a society pouring millions of dollars and hours into dating sites in a hopeful attempt to find love. What about our friendships though? We so often accept superficial relationships as adequate though they routinely leave us with a void that we don’t understand how to fill. One thing that my faith has taught me is that the most prominent place to find God is in others. I pray that we all take the time to look at our lives and take the risk of initiating an active search for relationships in this world which bring us fulfillment and challenge us to be the greatest we can be. I close with one of my favorite verses of scripture, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15.)