On Snapchat, friendship, and being known
I’m still getting compliments on MCL’s confetti-filled cover photo last month. What you might not know is that without two of my closest friends, that cover shoot would’ve been a disaster.
I’ve known Mandy and CC for several years now. We met through another close friend, also named Kaitie, who has since moved to Denver, and we all keep up via (don’t judge us) Snapchat.
Yes, we’re a bit older than Snapchat’s target demographic, but we usually don’t use it for selfies. Instead, we send each other video “snaps,” giving the group almost a play-by-play of our days and weeks. Things like work, relationships and pets interfere, but also are often detailed in said snaps.
Back to that cover shoot: My one idea was confetti. Other than that, I had nothing. What would we do with our hands? Maybe I could hold a balloon?
Cue Mandy and CC to the rescue. They helped me think through exactly how to stage the photo. Mandy sent me an Instagram post for inspiration. She ordered a “birthday” cake for MCL. She and CC gave me ideas for props. CC sent us pictures of her mother’s beautiful cake plates and brought a few different ones to the shoot.
Mandy took “behind the scenes” pictures. CC and others popped confetti. They both stayed afterward and helped me clean up. If other Kaitie had been there, she would’ve been in the trenches (or tile grout, rather — removing confetti) with us. She has helped me fold, seal and stamp subscription renewal notices, and I’m pretty sure she’s helped me bag magazines.
You get the point: I owe my friends a big ole heap of gratitude, and probably a steak dinner.
We have plenty of fun outside of work, too. We had a book club for a couple years, and even now that it’s defunct, CC often sends us her own book reviews on Snapchat. The sillier the title, the better. Nowadays when we get together, it’s usually for a meal, a movie, a board game, toddler time with Mandy’s son, or some combination thereof.
But honestly? Those daily and weekly Snapchat updates are part of what keeps us the closest.
There’s something I’ve been hearing a lot over the past year — from my church, my boyfriend and others — the idea of “knowing and being known.” And I used to think I was really good at being known. I’m willing to share my testimony whenever, wherever. I love the story of how messed-up I was and how Jesus brought me out of that.
Just don’t ask me about that thing I’m dealing with right now — and not always dealing with very well. That thing that scares me. That thing that makes me feel inadequate. I don’t want to feel judged, and I don’t want to admit I’m not perfect.
But we’re not meant to live our lives in a vacuum, just us and God, struggling through the hard stuff. I had friends in my life who helped me in the past — during that story I love telling now — and I need friends now, too. I need believers who think a little differently than I do. I need my parents, who’ve lived more life than I have. I need peers who can affirm and encourage me, like my friends do (yes, via Snapchat!) if they get even a whiff of downheartedness coming from my direction.
And I need to do that for others. There’s no separating love for God and love for His people.
But what does that look like? Well, if you love someone, you spend time with them. You open up to them. You show them grace when they open up to you. It’s hard, it’s awkward, it’s messy, but it is worth it. God wants us to confess our sins to each other, not to embarrass us but so we’ll be healed (James 5:16).
I’m still not great at this. And my friends and I don’t always discuss super deep stuff in video snaps. (Maybe one day we’ll get into letter writing — see Laura Leathers’ column on page 32.) But oftentimes we do. And I’m so grateful to have friends who see me, know me, and still love me, just like God does.
Read more about vulnerability, faith and mental health in our cover story on page 18, and also check out my friend Mandy’s column about a fresh start in her friendship with God on page 16!
What step can you take toward true friendship today?