To: The One Who Goes Second… From: The One Who Went First.

Friendship is initiative. There is no true, meaningful, deeply honest and passive friendship. The word “passive” jars our senses when we see it in that list.

Initiative is so powerful in friendship… it is at the very core of friendship.

When we think of initiative, we often we break people in to areas of “extroverts” and “introverts”. The extroverts are the ones who talk all the time, say what’s on their mind and pursue people. The introverts are those who do none of that… right? Wrong. Initiative and honesty in relationships has nothing to do with personality traits and everything do with being brave, courageous and generous.

We all LOVE the person that is bold enough to bring up the topic we want to talk about. Or who is bold enough to tell their own story of brokeness. Why can’t I be that person?  Because it’s risky. It’s painful. It’s scary. Perhaps, I’ve done it before and it didn’t go quite as I planned. There is the chance my story will be met with silence from others.

And so we sit, all of us. Waiting and longing for others to go first.

Then someone steps out and tentatively asks that questions you’ve always been wondering about too. They carefully begin to tell their story. They bravely admit their weakness. They swallow and say, “I’ve actually had a week/month/year that has almost done me in.”

the_gift_firstWhen they do this it is not just being brave, it is being generous. What they are actually doing is giving a gift to us. It is the gift of going first.

Likewise, when we go first we give the gift of opening up a door for others. Once the door is open it is so much easier for those that follow, they have the pleasure of going second. It is so much easier for others to say to us, “Me too, you are not the only one”.

C.S. Lewis once described friendship as, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” Lewis left out one thing though. Friendship started before that sentence. It started with someone who gave the gift of having gone first. All those who follow get to walk through the door that was bravely opened for them. Friendship is someone giving the gift of going first and others getting to say, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

That sweet relief of knowing that you are not the only one. Yet, we all sit in silence, wondering and waiting. Until someone steps out of the boat and goes first. They get to say, “the waters fine, join me”.

I have had that door mercifully opened for me by many others. I still call them friends. Now, when I gather my courage and go first I no longer feel confused or hurt when others immediately jump to their story. I smile with joy that I got to pass on the gift, which has also been given to me. Going second is a natural response to those that go first.

Find trustworthy people and give them a gift. Don’t wait passively. Bravely open that door for others. Who will you give this sacred gift to?