By Sarah Zacharias Davis
I believe the saying, “Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans” has been credited to the soulful artist John Lennon. Most of us would interpret that wisdom to mean that though we design grand plans, checklists, and blue prints for life all with the intent to create the life we think we want, that which is the other finds us. We imagine, we dream, we plan, we schedule and then we begin to check off the boxes that contain our lives, but in the end isn’t it the interruptions that define it?
It’s been a year and 3 months exactly since I sent my car and the contents of my two bedroom condo across the country in a moving truck only to meet it all on the other side as I began my new life. And I love where I am now. I love the palm trees that impose on the skyline. I love that on a clear day I can see snow-capped mountains while driving to the beach. I love that for the first time in my life I can actually taste flavor in a tomato, and I love that on the occasional evening at dusk I see a very mysterious old man with a very long white beard and white hair of equal length dressed in saffron colored silk pajamas and a long silk robe on an evening walk through the neighborhood. I love that there is still the energy of a bygone era, the scrappiness of cowboys and entrepreneurs combined with the vintage glamour of Frank, Dean, and Marilyn. It has always been and still remains the place where dreams come true. My new city is a feast for the eyes, a veritable buffet for the senses. But for the soul I have found it to be at times desolate. At the fifteen month mark, I still have not made any real friends. Though I have met several women I genuinely like and have found common ground with, life moves at a busy pace here in my city. There is so much to do, numerous invitations for social engagements, parties, and fundraisers, while the breadth of urban sprawl and tangle of traffic compete with the time needed for relationship building.
I was recently invited to a birthday party. I went alone. I chatted with several there, several young couples, a fellow colleague I recognized from another department, and an elderly attorney. Stepping outside my comfort zone I made a valiant effort to introduce myself to strangers and make witty conversation. All were nice enough. And then I found myself alone, there seemed to be no more conversations to break into and nothing to distract myself with so that I appeared occupied rather than awkward. After greeting the guest of honor one last time to say goodbye, I slipped away unnoticed and walked along the crowded urban street teeming with tourists and residents, shoppers, and diners but it was the loneliness I felt that was deafening, not the boisterous crowds. Later I talked this over with my significant other as together we mourned our respective loneliness since our cross-country move. He concluded the conversation by saying to me, “People let you do your thing here, whatever that may be. No one will interrupt you.” He shrugged and we said no more on the subject. It seemed a simple and true enough statement at the time, but I couldn’t forget it. He quite profoundly hit the proverbial nail on the head. Because isn’t that exactly what friendship is after all? It is an interruption—a willingness to boldly interrupt and to be interrupted.
I think back to my childhood friendships and how they began. I was going home with my parents after church when instead Rachel invited me to watch a movie and spend the night at her house. I was getting ready to walk home from school when Alexia came and asked me if she could walk with me for part of the way. I was sitting on the stairs of a new house in a new neighborhood and a new city watching an army of men carrying boxes from the moving truck when Katie came knocking on my front door.
But as women are we living in a way that invites interruption? Though we yearn for friendship, we have soundly created for ourselves a life that does not welcome the idea of interruption. We schedule and over schedule. We celebrate busyness and independence. We satisfy ourselves with a social circle of Facebook friends where we safely control its interruption into our lives through security settings, acceptance and denial buttons, and virtual distance. Yet friendship is life interrupted, as unmannerly as that may sound. It is the interruption of a solo Saturday night or the purchase of a solitary movie ticket by companionship. A friend interrupts life’s grandly celebrated events, weddings, graduations, birthdays, births, and funerals with her presence, as well as the quieter, yet perhaps more defining moments of new love, joy, small victories, disappointment, and heartbreak. She intrudes on an inner dialogue of fear or insecurity with encouragement even lent confidence, and disrupts that spectacular mope now into its third day with comfort. Most importantly she interrupts by seeing and believing in a life that feels as though it bears no witness.
The “two-way street” of friendship, of course, requires that we also be willing to be interrupted. It requires an interruption of the to-do list to assemble dinner in a Pyrex dish, delivered with re-heating instructions attached. It requires interrupting a monthly budget for a birthday gift or an airline ticket, and a workout or errands for a phone call or a spontaneous happy hour. And times friendship even requires that we must interrupt our own inner dialog of occasional jealousy, insecurity, and passive aggression that can poison a relationship. Without these interruptions we wouldn’t know friendship, we wouldn’t know living.
So if I may shamelessly reveal my agenda on behalf of myself and lonely souls everywhere I ask you to please interrupt - and brazenly so. And if perhaps you feel like you have too many friends, be thankful for the interruptions, welcome them, embrace them. If you feel as though you have too few, or perhaps not even a one, will you boldly take the risk of interrupting another life?
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About the Author
The oldest daughter of best-selling writer Ravi Zacharias, Sarah Zacharias Davis is the author of the critically-acclaimed Confessions from an Honest Wife, Transparent: Getting Honest About Who We are and Who We Want to Be, and The Friends We Keep: A Woman’s Quest for the Soul of Friendship. She has written for Focus on the Family, Radiant Magazine, Proverbs 31 Woman, and Faith and Fitness.
Currently, Davis is senior advancement officer at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology, and lives in Los Angeles where she enjoys visiting art museums, cooking, traveling, and sunshine.
For information on or to purchase any of Davis' books, please click here.