“I think I’d like to come visit you. What do you think?”
Who me? He wanted to come visit me?
This was about two weeks into a chain of Skype calls I had been having with a guy 3,000-ish miles away. I knew very little about him, he was a writer and had a poster of my favorite Portland breakfast spot hanging behind his head.
But I said “yeah, that would be great.”
I hardly considered the possibility he might be a serial killer preying on unsuspecting women bloggers, although it was suggested to me by my well-meaning roommate.
I decided it would take a pretty talented liar to fake his way through an hour long conversation about The Screwtape Letters, and he would have to have been pretty darn talented to make up an entire personal blog.
Beyond that, I was ready to trust someone who seemed to have such linear passions to my own.
And then he actually did it, he bought a ticket. And I freaked out a little. Because this was real, and I flinched inwardly, froze up.
Why I wondered?
Here’s the thing, I like new relationships, friendship or otherwise.
They are a whole lot easier in the beginning, when both I and the other person pepper each other with questions, answers and agreeable nods. New relationships are wonderful because I can wow my new friend with homemade soup and my one joke.
We can both chatter on about whether C.S. Lewis was a pluralist or not, and where we want to live when we grow up. We can hike, teach each other something new and accept critique graciously.
Because it’s fresh.
But eventually, our paint starts to chip and my new relationships become seasoned. What moves us forward?
I’d say, the things I want to hide are what makes a relationship grow-up.
When my joke gets told for the seventh time, or my insecurity drives the other person bananas. Or maybe my friend realizes I am a little manipulative. Or a lot manipulative. And then new is gone, and we have to make a decision, to grow-up together or apart.
I like new relationships so much more because I can impress and avoid showing the most wounded parts of me.
I enjoyed my Skype relationship with this guy because it was safe, and we could agree on our favorite type of beer without him really seeing the gritty reality. And in turn, high-tailing it back onto the airplane.
On my way to the airport to pick him up, I felt my blood pressure rise and fall in waves. I freaked out a little wondering if he had clammy hands, or was four feet tall. What if he smelled like stale pipe tobacco or wore sketchers with painters jeans?
I didn’t know, I had only seen his shoulders up, and that blasted poster behind his head.
I missed the parking lot three times, circling around the airport, distracted by my sweating and angst.
We spent five days getting used to each other walking around Minneapolis.
On our last full day we took a mini-road trip and went on a hike, up by Lake Superior. Birch trees sprouted like weeds on either side of the trail, wild mushrooms, blue skies and a soft breeze greeted us along the rocky path.
Eventually we stopped at a lookout and sat lazily in the grass, contented.
It was time for us to have a conversation I had both been anticipating and dreading. As he dug into the details of where we had come from, where we were headed and so on, our toes were kicking the edge of a rock face, which dropped one hundred feet or so into Lake Superior…
—And I was mentally lacing up my running shoes, ready to bolt.
Not because he wasn’t great, or swelling with good character, but because I had never reached this place before.
I was being invited into the paint chipping stage of our relationship, and there was no way I could let him see the grit. Not when I liked him so much, because I was sure he would run, and I wouldn’t blame him.
Sitting on a cliff side, being asked to jump.
For twenty-five years I have said no way, both with words and subconsciously. There is no way I am letting any guy see the worst of me.
But for some strange reason I decided to say yes. Let’s do this.
A not-so-new relationship formed, grew for a bit, began to fade, and then ended amicably enough.
But at the end of it, my friend/cousin Ally Vesterfelt said to me, “think of this as a success Krisi, look how you were able to speak up and take a risk.”
She’s right, this was a new thing for me. And taking a risk in a human relationship that didn’t work, taught me a whole lot about being in relationship with God.
I think every time I let someone in, I learn a little bit more about what it means to trust God. Because whether I like it or not, God has seen the very worst, and isn’t going anywhere.
The lesson I am learning is not that I am worthy because I am perfect, but I am worthy even when i’m not (Which my friends know is quite often). When I accept this, it teaches me not only how to be in relationship with God, but with people too.
How have you learned to let people in?