One of the things I am enjoying most about my second year at uni is how my friendships from last year are deepening. I am very blessed to have met some wonderful people and it has made this new chapter of my life so much easier. In particular, I feel I am really starting to get to know the people I lived with in halls last year. We don’t all live together this year, but with those I don’t, we try to see each other at least once a week.

One friend went home for a period of time last year and although we spoke about it a bit to keep in touch, they never really told me why or what happened. I had forgotten about this until my friend brought it up the other week. I was deeply moved by their story and listened with an open heart to their struggles last year.

 It really made me think about the mask we all wear. These “masks” are okay and necessary for a time, but it’s hard to see what’s going on under the surface when we don’t open up our vulnerabilities to one another.

The power of the encounter really moved me. There was me thinking I “knew” these people last year. I was humbled to know my friend felt comfortable to open up to me. For all our attempts to build friendships, what we often need to do is give people time and space. The time to choose when they feel ready to go to a deep place in a friendship. Sometimes it’s not necessary, and that is okay. But if we do choose to open up to others, it is sharing both great love and great suffering that leads us to share in something deeper.

When was the last time you encountered great love or great suffering in a friendship?