Allow me to introduce two good-natured friends of mine: Iggy and Swaggy…
We’ve only known each other for a year or so, but we communicate regularly — weekly, in fact. And we have great conversations.
We talk most frequently on the weekends, but sometimes during the week, too, when one of us needs a little extra assistance. We reach out via text. It’s short and sweet. There’s grace in the time necessary to respond. But as soon as one of us is aware of a need at hand, it’s immediately addressed. With efficiency and respect… yes, always, respect.
Most of our conversations remain fairly short. None of us are especially verbose, and we each have other priorities in our lives to attend to. But it’s a unique friendship in that we get to the point, make ourselves clear, while listening well and being as actively attentive as our days allow. We listen well to one another; it’s a known, shared value.
We joke around. Laugh a little. We ask good questions of one another. We’re serious, too. Our friendship is good, balanced, and interactive.
Truth told, Iggy and Swaggy and I are great, authentic encouragers of one another.
That’s prob the word I like best there — “authentic.” Even though I’ve had arguably no friend groups quite like this one, our communication is very good. It’s real. It’s honest. There’s a strong thread of intentional selflessness that runs through every conversation.
There are others in our friend group — Liz, Geet, and Fireshark, for example. They sometimes chime in; they are always welcome, of course. We work hard to make sure no one feels omitted in conversation or importance. Granted, Iggy, Swaggy and I do most of the talking.
No doubt the way friendships have formed has changed in the 21st Century. Instead of the days where relationships evolved primarily from those in our surrounding, physical, tangible communities, creative technological advancements have made it possible to develop deep relationships far away — even across the globe. That’s what paved the way for my friendships in this newfound friend group. What a beauty to be in regular touch with my friends — one who lives near in Central Florida — the other far in Kuala Lumpur — each something we only recently realized.
But there’s an even better beauty between Iggy, Swaggy and me.
The reality is that even though we talk and converse most every weekend, even though we actively encourage one another, I really don’t know hardly any physical, tangible details about them. I’ve never seen them. Not even via a Zoom call.
I don’t know how old they are. I don’t know what they do professionally. I don’t know their ethnicity, what they look like, what family entails… I don’t even know whether they are male or female.
And as I am known by them only by my initials, they know such not of me either.
Iggy and Swaggy and I — in addition to Liz, Geet, Fireshark and about 44 others — met through an online word game. It’s sort of a combination of Boggle and multiple crossword puzzles. I love a good, nerdy word game! I feel like it helps keep me sharp.
Each weekend there’s a tournament hosted by the app’s operators in which teams compete against millions more in an online community, in which players can sporadically enter/exit throughout the weekend — whatever works with their individual schedule. You compete both as an individual and as a team. Iggy, Swaggy, et al. and I are on the same team.
We get going, check in, ask for clues, boosts and assistance, and actively cheer each other on. We congratulate one another on a job well done. And, on those weekends where we struggle or simply don’t have time to participate, there’s great grace added to a spoken enthusiasm for the next time we will join forces together.
That’s the biggest beauty. None of the details of our lives — none of the descriptions or stereotypes, pre-made judgments or things we supposedly find our identity in — none of them get in the way. We don’t even know those descriptions or stereotypes. And yet knowing isn’t necessary for authenticity to run rampant in relationship.
The biggest beauty between Iggy, Swaggy and me is that encouragement, respect and genuine care flow freely. No matter what.