From time to time, we speak about what an exasperation-free oasis our friendship is. Both of us have had some important relationships that soured because someone got exasperated with us. Not that we didn't deserve it. But there is something about my best friends, who just don't get exasperated with me, no matter how much I deserve it. As a result, I am not guarded with them, and when we fall back into old patterns of thinking, "If I tell him this, the friendship is over," that's where we have over the years taken the risk to tell it all. That's where the friendship is made even stronger.
My best friends are the people with whom I feel safe to talk about mad, sad and hurt feelings. Most other relationships stay at the feeling levels where everything is "fine," although we all know that's not true. But my best friends never shy away from those times when we feel the neediest—when our feelings have been hurt, when we are so angry we could spit fire, when we are grieving and depressed, when we feel unacceptable. Over and over, those are the times that have made us feel more bonded.
The secret to all of this is that best friends are invested in being their true selves. Sure, they tolerate any posturing that comes from the false self. But the safety of the friendship is such that in their presence I can feel the superficiality of any of my ego-based claims or judgments. With that realization, I remember that I don't want to live on the surface of life, and then I simply move into the deeper waters where my true self waits to cool, refresh and renew.
For me, investing in time with my best friends is profoundly spiritual. Standing naked before another, knowing that acceptance will trump exasperation and working through tough feelings as well as surface living to move to the true self is the essence of life with God. We can't be fully alive without it.