I met up with a friend the other day, the kind you meet on the first day of college and just never let go of. This year, however, we didn’t keep in touch very well, and we finally got the chance to catch up over cheesecake & british tea, and a grande Starbucks frappuccino. We picked a small table on the patio outside of Starbucks, and tried to make ourselves comfortable in the cold, metal cafe chairs. Going into this coffee date, I couldn’t tell you what I expected. It’d been a good year and a half or more, probably, since our last heart to heart, and I didn’t know if our friendship could pick up where we started. I’ve done a good deal of changing this past year, as I’m sure she had too. Would it be just like old times, constantly poking fun at each other with friendly banter? Or would we sit sipping our respective drinks in silence, drinking just so we’d have something to do?
It started out a little slow, I’d asked her how her past year had been, and she made some vague references that indicated that it had been a rough year for her both emotionally and physically. I could tell she wasn’t quite ready to open up completely, and so when she asked about how my year had been with IV, I took it as an opportunity to go a little deeper to break the ice. As I shared, she interjected with stories and commentary, each time ending with a "I’m so sorry, where were you before I interrupted you? I really want to hear how your year was!" Though she was refraining from sharing more deeply, it felt like she had something important to say, but couldn’t bring herself to do it, and so she kept bubbling over with side stories and blurbs, apologizing for interrupting each time. I wondered to myself if she was an extrovert, and smiled. "Don’t worry about it," I said. "Stop apologizing! I want to hear what you have to say too!"
A tiny part of me felt off though–she usually was so unapologetically boisterous and bold, both in word and deed, and even in wardrobe. In college, she was one of my most fashion-conscious friends, always so well put together from her beautifully coiffed hair to her high-heeled leather boots. But that day, she wore a gray tshirt and gray sweatshorts, and I literally would have walked right past her if she hadn’t stopped me. Somehow this just wasn’t the same girl I remembered.
Eventually, I started sharing about all the things I’d seen and experienced while working for IV, including learning so much about the role of women in general and gender dynamics in Asian American cultures in particular, and how God was beginning to reveal the struggles, the sins, and the blessings in each. I told her of the things my girls had faced, the things that scarred them so deeply, the things that broke me inside, the things that made me want to smash something–glass, dishes, even bones…anything to get the brokenness outside of me.
And soon…she began to share. Like letting go of a breath that has been held for far too long, she let go of the secret she’d been holding (or should I say the secret she’d been told not to tell). Her phrases were choppy; they fell in pieces from her mouth. And she too, told me about a boy she’d met last year…
What is it about the interplay between women and men that so much brokenness ensues (or maybe just the capacity for?) ? What lies do we women believe…what things have men been told…why do these power plays and tireless pursuits play on repeat time and time again?