A Tale of Friendship
We uprooted our family in the spring of 2005 and moved to a city where I had zero friends. I knew no one. It was a brave move that cost us 17 years of familiarity.
It is relatively easy for me to make friends, but when you are in your mid-forties, in a new city, and have no foundation of community of any kind, it is very intimidating to put yourself out there. I remember the private school we stumbled upon that eventually both of our boys would graduate from.
That day was frightening because everything was so new. We were out of our comfort zone. As we walked up to the door of the school a lady held the door and with all the pep and joy in her voice said, “Hi! My name is Gwen! Welcome to Legacy!” She had the warmest, kindest smile! Neither of us knew then the roads we would travel together and the joys and pain we would both walkthrough!
Our families would belong to the same church, our kids in school together, and we were in Bible studies together as couples and a women’s group. Friendship has many different levels. There is the lets meet once a month and have lunch and then there are the ones who do a deep dive immediately because we just knew we were meant to be friends. This group decided we would live life together. This meant all the yuks and the great times. It meant supporting each other through some rough patches. Mental Illness and the damage it can inflict if uncontrolled: suicide attempts, cancer, divorce, death, and a coming out and learning to be who we are.
Friendships that stick around and decide to do an online Bible Study just the two of us. We were both walking a tightrope at home and doing Beth Moore’s Psalms of Ascent together was life-giving. Sometimes we talked on the phone to discuss our homework because of time constraints. We could be on the phone for a couple of hours.
This friendship stayed rock solid even after she moved to another city in Texas. She made the drive every two weeks back to Dallas for work and meetings. We never lost our familiarity with one another and almost always had time for coffee. When a friend moves, the dynamics of the friendship change. To a degree, distance at our age seems relevant.
When one friend moves, we could have an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality. It’s just the way it goes sometimes. But our early morning texts and phone calls, while she was caring for a husband with cancer, and I had a husband with mental illness, meant a few moments of relief for both of us.
I think the reason some rare friendships stay the course regardless of distance is that you have more than material things in common. It’s more than a casual relationship with a co-worker or neighbor. You have a relationship you established on trust and because of our common bond in Jesus. He has sustained us all in different seasons so that we can give of ourselves to the ones we walk through life with. Plus, we had been gut-level honest with each other. Friendships require intentionality and a sincere ear that will listen! There are moments when you hear what is not being said. In those moments, you ask the holy questions. Holy because of the established relationship of trust built which gives you both freedom and permission to ask them. These are the moments hard truths are shared and no offense can be harbored. Speaking the truth in love and being bold is a requirement for these friendships. Otherwise, they dive into the abyss of “ Yeah, I know them, we used to be friends.”
I might add here I heard a statement the other day from a friend that said, “ Don’t look for offenses because you will find them everywhere.” Such a powerful image when you think about it. It would be the equivalent of looking for thorns on a rose bush. They are everywhere and will do some damage if you grab them. It would be easy to be offended, however, this is not what we are asked to do. I have friends who have been offended over the tiniest things. After some time, you begin to walk on eggshells because whatever you say or do is subject to their offense radar. It is difficult to be friends and stay friends when this is an issue.
Please understand I know not all friendships end well. There are some that implode and disintegrate. This is hard on us. It’s not the way you wanted it to end, or maybe you did want it to end. Some friendships erase all memories of a time when you were close and they never want to see you or talk to you again. It’s almost as if you didn’t exist. This is difficult to come to grips with but over time and therapy you finally see what you didn’t see at the time. Friendships must grow and change to stay vibrant and alive. There is an undercurrent of vulnerability, trust, and courage. Friendships won’t survive on just temporal things. It starts with a base of knowledge and grows in depth as time moves on.
In the next 3 days, I want you to send a text to your friends that are more like your family than your family. Tell them the thoughts you might not have said to them in a while. Let them know because they need to hear it.