“The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.” – William Blake

I don’t like this quote. As an introvert, I tend to avoid sharing my heart. My refusal to be vulnerable with others stems from a place of deep self-loathing. In the past, I gave into the many lies that left me believing I was unknowable, unlovable, and incapable of friendship. In an attempt to protect myself, I put up thousands of walls around my heart. Yet, instead of the fortress I had hoped for, I created a starvation bunker.

Ironically, I ended up at Christ in the City. With missionary life practically revolving around friendship, I quickly found myself face to face with the paradox I was living. I believed friendship was impossible, yet I’m living in community? Friendship is impossible; yet everyday I make new friends on the street?

Then came a wake-up call: Amy, your heart is starving for this. You have to let yourself be known and loved. You need friendship. Friendship is your home.

So why have I resisted?

I have resisted the idea of friendship because I was so frightened by the thought of getting hurt.

Many of our friends on the street believe the same lies about themselves that I do. They feel that same self-loathing, and think they too, are a burden. Like me, they don’t want to get hurt more than they already have. For many, friendship has not been and is still not worth the risk.           

As a missionary, I have the unique privilege of striving to know, love, and serve our friends on the street. I want them to know that I see them, that I love them just the way they are, and that I hope the world for them. I want them to believe that I am their friend.

But in order to do that, I have to be open to it myself.

It has taken long hours of sitting in the chapel and finding my identity in the gaze of Christ to begin to chip away at the wall of lies I have built around my heart. Long hours of learning how to receive love and let others hold my heart. Long hours of repeating to myself over and over that I am not a burden.

I know that friendship is possible in my life. It is something I desire. It is the home I have always searched for, and the greatest gift I can give away. Friendship is the life of Christ shining within me. Now I must decide, will I take the risk?

Amy is a missionary from Derwent, Alberta, Canada. She enjoys music, old films, and walking in the rain.