Today’s blog is written by another best friend of mine, Tyler Chernesky. He helps pastor a church in Kansas City, and his insights on friendship are so important especially in a distracted age. When I… More
Today’s blog is written by my best friend, Katherine Marlin. She’s an amazing friend who I truly wish could be friends with all the people I know. She loves well.
Marriage & friendship is an interesting topic and one that could go fifty directions – so I thought I may give thoughts on one: friendship with Jesus in marriage. Friendship with Jesus is something I didn’t expect to grow within marriage. I don’t mean I thought once I got married I wouldn’t grow spiritually. I mean I didn’t really expect the hard things in marriage to reveal another side of friendship with Jesus that I wouldn’t see anywhere else. This new friendship with Jesus happens before the uncomfortable conversations or after the big arguments – the times when Chris and I have a difficult discussion and there is no one else to call upon but Jesus. In those moments, I literally reach the point of crying out to God through tears and gasps and barely can get out “God, help me.”
You may be thinking, “wow, their marriage must be terrible” – but honestly, it’s not and it’s actually pretty amazing. This hasn’t happened all that many times – I could probably count on two hands when I’ve reached these points. But these times still stick with me. I can vividly remember the most recent time six weeks ago. It was terrible and beautiful all in the same breath. We had both said some things we regretted saying, in tones of voice we regretted using. I left our bedroom and bawled, sitting on the couch in the dark. Those next few minutes alone asking God to help me, to help us, took me another step deeper in intimacy with the Lord. In that moment, and in moments similar to that, I am pushed to the point of belief that Jesus is all that matters.
When the closest and dearest thing to me has failed me, I still have Jesus, and He is more than enough. I have thoughts in my head that if our marriage is going to be awful now because of this fight (which is a terribly dramatic thought for me), everything will be ok because Jesus loves me and knows me and chooses me over and over again. Jesus understands me when Chris misunderstands me. Jesus loves me when it doesn’t feel like Chris loves me. Jesus chooses me when Chris is pushed to the point of having to make that decision over again. The comfort from this sentiment alone makes moments like these completely worth it – to get to a point in my soul where I am convinced again Jesus is all that matters. Friendship with Jesus is a relationship that remains when all others fall short – when your friend lets you down, when your co-worker demeans you, when your kids disrespect you.
I love how the Passion translation describes our new uninhibited access to God through Jesus “And now we are brothers and sisters in God’s family because of the blood of Jesus, and He welcomes us to come right into the Most Holy Sanctuary in the heavenly realm – boldly and with no hesitation! For He has dedicated a new, life-giving way for us to approach God. For just as the veil was torn in two, Jesus’ body was torn open to give us free and fresh access to Him! And since we now have a magnificent King-Priest to welcome us into God’s house, we come closer to God and approach Him with an open heart, fully convinced by faith that nothing will keep us at a distance from Him.” Hebrews 10:19-21. This access to God, this friendship with Jesus, this community with the Holy Spirit, is an unshakeable and reliable force in our lives that won’t ever let us down – if others please us or fail us, may we continue on deeper with the Lover of our souls.
Today’s blog is by one of my best friends. Chris is wise and a GREAT friend.
If you were to come to my city, Las Vegas, the first thing you would see is the Strip. That four-mile stretch of well-lit hotels, casinos, and bars that is world-renown for providing excess in whatever you could want. However, if you ventured off the Strip with me to “normal Vegas”, you’d find normal grocery stores, normal banks, and normal restaurants. The one thing you might not find “normal” is our neighborhoods. Instead of nice picket fences surrounding houses, you’d find concrete walls. This interesting façade indicates an uglier truth of Vegas: loneliness. We don’t just lead the nation in addiction and suicide because of our casinos, but because of our walls.
We all put walls up when we’re scared or insecure. The problem with walls is they not only hold fear and insecurity in, but also keep intimacy and friendship out. The kind of friendship that lets you relax and that lasts through storms. Although I wouldn’t ask him for marital advice, the biblical figure, Solomon, has great things to say about tearing walls down and building friendship up. Here are three things I’ve learned from him about cultivating lasting friendships:
- Friendship Is Fundamental – 9Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: 10If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. – Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
You’ve probably heard this verse most often at a Christian wedding, but I love it for friendship! Solomon takes common imagery of the day and advocates friendship is both effective and safe. However, he uses the word “pity” for anyone who doesn’t have that bond. The first step in cultivating lasting friendships is the desire for them. Otherwise, your pursuit for them will dwindle at the first sign of resistance.
- Friendship Is Found – Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel. – Proverbs 27:9
Today, anything can be made sweet. Even the most bitter drink (coffee, in my opinion) can be made sweet (see: Frappuccino). What’s interesting about this verse, though, is when Solomon penned it sugar had not yet been discovered. That means anything that was sweet in Solomon’s day was not made, but found. He says friendships are similar. There must be some common value, interest, or experience that you build a friendship upon. Don’t hear me say complete similarity is necessary, but there must be a base of commonality.
I pastor a church in Las Vegas and one of my best friends here is Emaurie, our worship pastor. I like sports; he’s artistic. I’m from the suburbs; him the city. I’m Type A…he’s definitely not. I teach; he sings. I have a buzz cut; he sports dreads. But yet there’s a deep friendship between us. It’s one founded on love for Jesus and expanded on the shared experience pursuing Him in a dark city. CS Lewis said, “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself”.
- Friendship Is Forged – Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. – Proverbs 27:5-6
This might be the most foregone point of the three because today, we tolerate least what offends us most. However, I’ve found an absolutely essential key to cultivating lasting friendships is healthy conflict. The picture of a blacksmith comes to mind as he “forges” metal. Every time he swings the hammer into the distressed steel, it gets stronger. What would happen if he swung his hammer at distressed glass, though? Would it get stronger? Of course not, because the chemical compound in steel promotes strength in conflict, while that of glass promotes a shattering. Choosing friendships forged in steel means all parties allow constructive criticism and refuse to move into offense from it. This is possible only when you know the other person loves and has your best in mind. And that reality lived out in friendship opens you both up to the refining process of healthy conflict!
I want my life to be void of walls that bring loneliness and full of lasting friendships that bring life.
Right now many women on Facebook are going public about the sexual assault they’ve experienced. When I woke-up this morning and checked Facebook, I was stunned by all the women sharing about their experiences. Being in a sorority and on a college campus in the 2000’s, I heard countless stories about friends who were victims of sexual assault. It happens everywhere; not just on college campuses, but it is definitely prevalent there. These stories are not new to me, but when you see such a large number of people in your network sharing, it’s overwhelming. It’s truly an epidemic.
They’re posting two words: Me too. Some are sharing more details or that it wasn’t just once. It’s not just millennial women either. Truly, they aren’t just women. Sexual assault and harassment victimizes men, too. We all lose when we pretend it isn’t happening and when victims are afraid of speaking out. Especially in terms of sexual assault and abuse, it’s usually a silent suffering. It is often shameful for a victim to speak about it. That’s why most women stay quiet.
But today, on a very public platform, they’re telling of their experience. They are sharing because someone else went first. The first woman (or man) to speak gave them the gift of going second; the opportunity to say, “Me too.”
Today it’s about sexual abuse and assault. October is infant loss and miscarriage awareness month, so women are sharing about that, too. It’s lonely when you think you’re the only one with that experience. Then the loneliness can lead to shame. You can begin to believe that your experience is unique, and you’re the only one. But when others start talking, and you realize that you’re not alone, you become more confident in sharing about your experience. You then free others up to do the same, knowing that you’ll be met with acceptance, and not judgment.
Thankfully I don’t have a personal sexual assault story or an infant loss or miscarriage story. But friends close to me do. Even if it’s not the exact same experience, when they’ve shared,
I’ve become more courageous about sharing about my deep hurts, too.
Vulnerable friendship gives that gift. The gift of saying, “Me too.”
Friends who have shared about the struggle to become pregnant have allowed me to share about waiting in my singleness without feeling shame about my own longings. Instead of living in isolation about whatever I’m walking through, I can choose to share and be met with acceptance and love.
It’s tempting to live in surface level friendships with people, but relationships where you bear each other burdens and invite your friends to do the same are where friendship is best. If we really want to fight against loneliness, it’s vital that we share the deep parts of our heart, even it’s hurt and pain.
It’s been devastating to see the stories shared today. It will continue to be difficult to hear them. But there is great power in sharing not only to create awareness, but also to connect vulnerably with others.
If you were on death row, and were about to eat your last meal, what would you want to eat?
Follow-up: Why would you be on death row?
How do you give and receive love?
What are you asking God for?
What are words that you want to be true of you?
Follow-up: What needs to change for that to be true?
What’s saving your life right now?
How do you know that I really love you?
How do you most experience God? (In community, in worship, in nature, etc.)
What are five things that are always in your fridge?
What’s one of your favorites? (Favorite anything.)
If you won the lottery, what’s the first place you would shop?
Next year looks better because…
I’m most like my mom/dad because…
What’s the best news you’ve heard this week?
If you would have one meal with any person dead or alive, who would it be?
What did you want to be when you grew up?
What would you super power be?
I want to be taken more serious in the following area…
What do you dream of doing?
What would your best friend say about you?
What’s a great story that best defines who you are or who you want to be?
I come by my love of both friendship and vacation honestly. Growing up overseas in a tight-knit expat community, almost every vacation we took were taken with other families. Not only did we vacation together, but we went to school with and lived in the same apartment building as most of my parents’ best friends. In a 31 floor apartment building, we didn’t have to travel far to spend time with one another.
In so many ways, it was like being in college, with late nights and the intimate friendships that you can only build when you see each other multiple times a week and often without make-up on. Once you add in the way that a shared expat experience bonds families together because you literally don’t have anyone else to lean on, my friendship expectations were doomed to be unrealistic.
But truly one of my favorite parts of living in Japan was traveling with other families. I cannot remember my family’s time in Malaysia, Indonesia, Guam or Saipan without remember the other families who we traveled with. The people who brought my family meals after my dad’s open heart surgery were our “Japan Friends.” Traveling with others does something special to a friendship that can rarely be replicated in real life. It creates a bond that’s stronger than you dreamed it could be.
I saw this happen with my family’s friends, but I’ve also seen it happen with my friends.
Two years out of college, a group of us invited quite a few friends who we knew from school on a week long vacation. That first year, eleven people stayed in a Florida beach house as we started a new tradition.
We had themed dinners, dance parties in the kitchen, wore our matching t-shirts, had a star contest and made sure we were all tagging our photos with a pre-determined hashtag. But, more important were the conversations around the breakfast table and the sharing that happened at our Monday morning “Family Time” where each person talked about what they were walking through, and we prayed for them individually.
Friendcation, as it’s come to be known, has truly changed us. There’s no escaping each other now, we’ve vacationed together. We know what happens when someone doesn’t get enough sleep, who is most likely to get sunburnt on the first day (me!), and who makes sure the coffee pot never stops brewing coffee in the morning. There’s a true vulnerability is sharing a house with friends for a whole week.
You can bring your best self to a weekend getaway, but it’s harder to fake it for a whole week. Vacation removes the filters of busyness, social media and the comfort of home. You have no choice but to be authentic around people who you’re sharing a kitchen and bathroom with.
Our vacationing together has given us the gift of being known not just who we were in college, or who we are right now, but who we hope to become. It’s so special to have these friends know me so intimately that they call me to be a better person when I forget what I’m working towards. They anchor me in who I am and remind me who I hope to become. They bear witness to my life.
I like listening to podcasts almost as much as I love reading! I listen to podcasts with subjects similar to what I read – story-based non-fiction, news related, and faith-based stuff. Over the years that I’ve been listening to podcasts, I’ve got some favorites, especially related to friendship. Each one is a little bit different. Some tell stories of friendship, where others can give instructions for how to make a friend or what friendship can look like. If you’re anything like me, and love learning about and seeing friendship, you should take a listen to these podcasts!
Sorta Awesome, episode 54, Ten Friends Every Woman Needs is one that I recommend most frequently. There’s a myth in our culture that you need a best friend. A singular best friend who meets all your needs. Depending on your season of life, that “best friend” is going to look a little differently. This podcast episode challenged the best friend myth, and reminded me of the importance of having a diversity of friends. Not even just a close knit friend group, but friends who meet a variety of needs, and who may not even know each other.
For The Love with Jen Hatmaker, episode 3, Girlfriends Can Save the World with Shasta Nelson, reminded me why I think friendship is not just important, but vital for our lives. Shasta has done significant research on how to develop intimate friendships and what happens when we don’t have them. I’ve since picked up her book, Frientimacy, because of how much I loved listening to her talk on the podcast. Chances are, if you’ve seen me since August, I haven’t been able to shut up about how destructive loneliness is, and that’s a topic I learned all about on this podcast. I’m more committed than ever to be a person who saves my friends from loneliness.
For The Love with Jen Hatmaker, episode 5, Real Girlfriend Stories from the Tribe brought me to tears. For The Love is a podcast that my best friend and I both listen to, and after we both listened to this episode, we started crying talking about it to one another. It’s a real story of what blood and guts friendship looks like. After listening to it, I wanted to be a better friend – to love deeper and more sacrificially for the people I’m closest to.
Happy Hour #144 with Sarah Harmeyer was one of my favorite episodes of the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey, and I’ve listened to almost all of them. I highly recommend the Happy Hour in general because it’s always good; even the episodes that I’m less interested in are GREAT! This episode was a special one for me because of the concept of The Neighbor’s Table that Sarah Harmeyer introduced and how she’s lived out community in her own life.
I’d love to hear what podcast recommendations you have on friendship and your favorite topics! I’m always looking to learn and listen to stories while I run or drive.
I can quite get enough of personality tests. I’m obsessed. I could talk about Enneagram and Myers Briggs until I’m blue in the face. Chances are, I’ve tried to figure out your Myers Briggs letters in our first couple interactions.
There has been a lot of research done about the role that our personalities play in our relationships – romantic and otherwise. Smart people have all types of theories about which types are most compatible.
I believe that personality tests have their place in helping us understand ourselves. I wouldn’t be obsessed with them if I didn’t. Knowing my personality type (ENFP & Ennegram 7) has helped me better know how I’m wired, and why I respond the way I do to certain situations. But, I also think we can use our personality to let us off the hook for developing meaningful relationships.
Introverts need companionship just as much as extroverts do. Humans are relational beings, and desire interaction with others. An introvert may leave a social gathering tired and in need of alone time, but that does not mean that he should avoid attending parties. It simply means that he needs to be aware of how he recharges — alone time — and plan accordingly.
Extroverts should also be cognizant of how much time they spend with others. Quality time to connect with friends is not the same as spending a lot of time with them. While the temptation may be to have all your favorite people in one place — I speak from personal experience — having them all in one room doesn’t mean that you’ve actually deepened the relationship. It may serve an extrovert’s friendships better to devote time to coffee dates or smaller gatherings.
Personality types can be key in self-development, but they should never be an excuse for unintentional relationships.
We have to be so careful that we don’t allow our personality type or even our preferences prevent us from making new friends and deepening existing friendships.
In February, I was in a bad car accident. Driving from babysitting to my friends’ house in the suburbs, I accelerated through a green light. A drunk driver ran a red light, t-boned a car who then hit me. It was the first car accident I was in. Within minutes I could hear the police sirens. An officer arrived, made sure I was okay, and shifted gears to evaluating more urgent matters. Truly, the first responders, police officers and firefighters, kept me safe, calm and warm on the cold and scary February night.
As I sat in my car, it became clear to me pretty quickly that I wasn’t driving my car to my friends’ house anymore. I would end up having to crawl over the console to even get out of the car. My contact flew out of my left eye because of the contact. Before I called my parents who were two hours away, I knew I needed to call someone else. Someone who could come to me quickly. I needed my personal first responders.
The friends who came to get me that night were the BEST. They were in for the night, so they showed up to the scene with glasses on, one step away from their pajamas. He took pictures of the aftermath of the accident. She greeted me with a big hug and kept me company until we were ready to leave. They made sure I had everything out of my car. Once we got to our destination, they prayed for me and helped me come up with a plan for the next day.
The other set of friends (whose house I was headed to) called quickly after hearing what happened and said, “We think it’s a good idea if you still stay with us tonight. We’ll take care of you, and get you everything you need tomorrow, too.” And they did just that.
My first responders weren’t just my local friends. I had an out-of-town friend offer to call while I wanted for my friends to arrive. Another out-of-town friend called the next day to check-in.
All I had to do was ask for a ride on Monday morning to pick-up my rental car, and another friend stepped in to help. Texts came throughout the week. Church folks offered to go car shopping with me.
Reflecting on the countless ways that my friends stepped up for me in the week following the car accident challenged me to think about what it means to be a first responder.
Am I willing to let myself be inconvenienced on behalf of someone else?
It’s not usually convenient to be a first responder. You have to get some place quickly, and with little notice. If I’m only wanting a friendship for the moments that are easy, fun and Instagrammable, I’ll never be willing to put someone else’s needs ahead of my own.
Have I communicated that I’m ready to spring into action for someone before an emergency even happens?
The same friend who showed up at the scene of the accident is listed as my work emergency contact. We both have out of town family, and I asked her if it was okay to list her, she did the same for me. When she (and others) have shared that in an emergency, they didn’t know who to call, I’ve tried to say, “In the future, I’d be able to be there.”
Am I consistency reliable?
Trust is built one moment at a time. These were not new friends to me. Over the past five years, we’ve become increasingly comfortable asking each for things. Have there been times when we’ve been too busy to hang out? Yes. Reliability isn’t the same as availability. I knew that they would come because they’ve also been the friends to help me when I move and my people who check in on me when my parents have been sick. I hope I can be the same kind of friend back to them.
Do I offer to help even when the need doesn’t seem urgent?
Usually the first time someone calls you for help it’s not going to be an emergency. It may be a passing comment about how there’s someone sick in their family. Or how their ride to the airport fell through. Or that their husband is out of town for multiple days over the next several weeks. Those are small opportunities to build trust over time, to become someone who they would call in an emergency. Eventually, they’ll become comfortable enough to ask for something that not urgent, and then hopefully something that’s bigger and more immediate.
It’s okay if you’re not a first responder to friend who you would hang out with on a Saturday night. That level of vulnerability and reliability takes time and energy to cultivate. It’s likely that you have several friends who you either consider to be first responders or you can identify as having that potential. Take time to invest in those relationships. Communicate that you view them as such. It’s also okay if your short list of people shifts over time. That’s only natural, too.
We become the first responders in each other’s lives by responding. Best friends are not born overnight. The trust is built throughout years and by showing up. Over time, we prove our self as reliable and able to be counted on in someone’s most vulnerable moments.
I’ve lived with over a hundred women. No, I’m not the worst roommate who sends others running for the hills, nor do I move frequently. I’m actually a fairly normal twenty-something. I lived with one hundred other female students in a sorority house for two years in college, and then shared a picturesque college town house with four of the same sorority sisters. I then moved into an apartment with two roommates right after I graduated. They were both engaged within a year, so two new women moved in. I now live in an adorable bungalow with three other friends.
My roommates have seen a side of me that few other friends have seen. They know that my purple fleece pants are my favorite item of clothing for laying on the couch, that I’d rather not speak to anyone until at least nine in the morning, that I don’t love to work-out with other people and that nothing sounds better to me after going to the gym than eating Chick Fil-A.
I’m far from a perfect roommate. I’m pretty messy, I am a verbal processor, I can keep weird hours and I covet alone time, but I like to think that I’ve learned some important lessons along the way. While others have worked towards living alone, I’ve grown to see the benefits of living with others.
Choose When to Speak Up
I currently live with three other girls. While we care about each other, one small annoyance about Roommate A expressed to Roommate B can turn ugly quickly. Unfortunately, that’s the nature of gossip. Some annoyances are good to speak up about, but others will be quickly forgotten. It’s important to know the difference. When I’m frustrated it helps to remind myself that if I don’t want to confront a roommate about something directly, then I need to drop it and move on.
Learn What Each Roommate Values
I spent months worrying that the messy bathroom upset my roommate, but did not think twice about leaving my cereal bowl in the sink. Then after asking her, I found out that the dirty bathroom didn’t bother her, but keeping the kitchen clean was of the highest importance. It’s been a win, win situation because I can focus my efforts on what matters most to her, and worry less about toothpaste residue in the sink.
Learning what a roommate values goes beyond knowing that she likes a clean kitchen. Like you would with a good friend, seek to learn what your roommates like after a hard day at the office – coming home to quiet or going out for dinner. Nothing shuts me down quicker than voicing my frustrations and a roommate responding with advice. When I’m frustrated, I don’t want someone telling me what to do; I either want empathy or silence. Getting to know your roommates, asking intentional questions and observing their reactions to different situations will help you better care for them.
Communicate Your Expectations
Home should be a safe space; a place where your needs are met, and where you can experience rest. This cannot happen unless you are open with your roommates about personal space, cleanliness standards and boundaries when it comes to sharing food. Some roommates set ground rules at the beginning of living together to clearly set out rules or expectations. Depending on your home’s need for structure, it may be helpful to write out these rules and post them in a public place.
The following topics should be discussed either leading up to moving in together or in the first month: overnight visitors, noise levels, cleaning responsibilities and paying bills.
Ask For Forgiveness
You will inevitably break a wine glass, shrink a favorite shirt, forget to take the trash out or hurt a roommate’s feelings. Believe me, I’ve done all of the above. Be quick to apologize. Some apologies are easier than others. Our homes are where we are able to live out grace, to apologize and to forgive. If you learn to practice forgiveness with those closest to you, this practice will follow into other areas of your life.
Seek To Out Love One Another
It’s human nature to want to make household responsibilities fair. In every living situation I’ve been in, during a hard week, someone starts keeping score. It sounds something like this:
“I’ve taken the trash out the past four weeks.”
“No one else ever empties the dishwasher.”
“Roommate A always leaves her dirty dishes on the coffee table.”
Full disclosure: that someone who keeps score is often me. Unless your roommate is the worst, chances are, he or she is doing things that you are unaware of. No one wins when you keep score. Instead, make it your goal to serve more, love bigger. Like forgiveness, servant-heartedness will follow you into your office and into your church.
If enjoying the roommate experience sounds a lot like being a good friend, that’s because it is! Hopefully you like spending time with the person who you are living with so it is fun, and you are able to build a friendship. Whether it’s a short-term or long-term experience, living with a roommate can be a great experience when you adopt the correct attitude and desire to make the most of it.
Last spring, I messed up pretty publicly. It was the kind of mess up that you you wake up the next morning full of conviction and maybe even some shame. It didn’t help that it was at a wedding with so many of my college friends. Everyone saw me in one of my lowest moments. I was a train wreck that no one could look away from.
I spent the whole next day crying because I was embarrassed, and sad. I had no one to blame but myself. This mess up was something that used to be a pattern in my life, but I thought that I had moved past it. Truly, it rattled me to my core.
I remember the conversations in the couple of days after this public mess-up. I called my best friend, apologized for my behavior and asked her who else I needed to apologize to. I confessed to my roommates what I had done. It was almost as if I wanted everyone to know what happened so I could move on and forget it. I continued to be shocked by the responses of each of my close friends.
In my self-condemnation haze, I couldn’t remember what was true of me. I felt as though I was a sum total of the mess-up.
Yet with each person, I was met with grace.
Grace that I didn’t feel worthy of because of my mess-up. Grace that acknowledged what I did was wrong, but didn’t permit me to continue on in my shame. Grace that restored me back to what’s true of my identity.
One of my roommates spoke the sweetest words over me as I shared what I did and how I was feeling about it. Standing in my kitchen, she said, “Caitlin, God is pleased that you confessed this to Him. You are forgiven already. He just wanted you to come to Him.”
I’ve mostly broken myself of my perfectionist tendencies. But every once in a while they rear their ugly head. Usually it’s when I mess up. I often live my life in a way that says I believe that grace gets me 99% of the way to the finish line, but the last 1% is all me. So when I mess up, I cannot finish. I failed. My mistakes, especially the public ones, can damage my heart on a deep level.
Thankfully, I have incredible friends who continue to be my friend even when I mess-up, and restore me back to my right place. When I feel defined by my behavior, they remind that my identity is much deeper than one night’s mistake.
But the restoration can only come when we’re aware that we need to be restored, and when we ask for it. When I’ve felt the most disappointed in friendships, it’s when I’ve been the least vulnerable. Thankfully, last spring when I needed my friends to remind me of who I was, I was open enough to confess the mistake so that they could be part of the restoring.
Grace is freely available, but you do have to ask for it. Friendship can be part of the restoration process, but you do have to be open about your need.