We're talking friendship today, loveys. It's on my mind. I've come to believe that we're all unique and so we approach friendship in different ways. And I've come to understand that it's okay. My way might not be what works for other people, but that's okay. It's how I roll. We're all unique and so we live out life in different ways.
Let's go back.
I met Michelle Coyne when I was about twelve years old. We were about twelve, I should say. And we were both kind of quiet (Michelle more so than me) and we had a heart connection. We claimed each other as best friends. I spent the night at her house. She spent the night at mine. We wrote stories together. We played out in the woods. We called each other on the phone. We played Nintendo together. We made up our own language. We wore best friend necklaces. It was a best-friend kind of thing. You are mine. I am yours.
We went from being twelve to sixteen, sharing clothes and make-up and driving down the road, singing with the radio turned up. We went from being sixteen to twenty--in college, growing up and going through growing pains, dancing around the house together. We went from being twenty to twenty-three, bridesmaids in each other's weddings (about two months apart). We went from twenty-three to twenty-eight, pregnant and having babies (about six months apart). We went from twenty-eight to thirty-four, sending our daughters to kindergarten and decorating my house together for a Curious George birthday party. We cried together at her mom's funeral--a woman I loved and associate with all my favorite growing-up moments, since nearly all of them include Michelle. A woman who always understood that there was a bond between myself and her daughter, and who fought for it if ever Michelle and I were struggling.
Because the older we get, the better we realize: Bonds like that take time to build and they are worth fighting for.
Twelve years old. Thirty-four years old. Twenty-two years of being in each other's lives. Of coming together and offering grace to each other and supporting each other and crying with each other and loving each other. Having sisters helps you learn to do this. You have to keep coming together because there's never a choice for something else. The bond is too deep. My sisters are the friends who go so deep, they've reached the core of me.
Here's the thing. I'm not sure I'm the kind of girl who needs a ton of friends. Back in my schooldays, I was never one who had a slew of friends. Give me one or two close friends, and I'm good. I'm still that way. I don't need to be the most popular. I don't need everyone to know me. I don't need to be part of everything. I've always been more introverted, spending time curled up with a book or scribbling stories were my favorite things to do. That's probably why Michelle and I clicked so immediately and so strong. We could sit together and be quiet and be perfectly happy. We can still do that.
I know not everyone works that way. Sometimes it seems like some women collect friends. Gathering them up wherever they go. Adding people the way we add friends to our facebook friend list. That might work for them. But for me--I need a heart connection.
I was looking at my facebook friend list the other day. I've got people on that list from different seasons and places of my life. A host of Texas people who knew me as Brandy Brumble. Friends from the past who are still in my heart. There's something comforting about those people because there's so much history. I think of nights spent at Jennifer Levee's house. I think of watching Days of our Lives at Tammy's house with Dana and Mandy and Michelle and Missy. I think of dancing to Swing Kids with Cory Holland. I'm part of their history and they're part of mine. Like a quilt with lots of patches from moments frozen in time. I kept scrolling on my list and came across Amber and Joy and Melissa and Mary Jane and Lois and Leticia and Krisha. Friends from my season in Longview. I think of Amber bringing me breakfast and encouraging me every day. Leticia and I laughing together. Joy and I whispering secrets. Mary Jane never waking up on time. Lois being utterly hilarious at times. Krisha and I on Sunday afternoon bus route.
I kept going and found Laurie and Holly and Monica and Samantha and Leah and Mrs. Nutter. Trixia and Liz and Court and Sarah and Hannah and Mary Jo, and Alisha, and so on. People I knew in Virginia who I made so many memories with. Living with Laurie--a whole set of memories of growing up as women together.
God brings people into our lives for specific reasons sometimes. And sometimes we have a deep heart connection that means the relationship will last. Some don't and that's okay. That's really okay. Some people have more capacity in their lives than others. Some women can be best friends with a million friends. I can't. I need time, investment, trust, space to breathe, understanding of our different personalities, grace.
I think of Jesus--he loved everyone, opened his heart to everyone, he had the most capacity. He also surrounded himself with a certain number of close friends whom he lived out life with.
That's pretty cool.
I've had close friends who are no longer part of my life. That's alright. The plain truth is that some friends are part of you for a season, then life moves you in different directions. That doesn't lessen the importance of the season you spent together. Or your impact on their life or their impact on you. Have you ever met someone whom you really wanted to be friends with, but she didn't seem as interested in being friends with you at that moment? Or she never had time? We've all had that happen. Maybe she didn't have as much room in her life right then. It's okay. It's good to know our boundaries. It's good to know when we're overspent and need to pull back. It's okay to trim our online friend list. And it's okay to trim the real-life one if we need to. This doesn't mean stop being a light to the people around you, or to stop reaching out when God brings opportunities in your life for new people. It means that, for some of us, it's okay if you can't be BFFs with everybody. It's okay to invest in the people whom you have a deep heart connection with. It's okay to be you and not anyone else.
Lately I've been missing Texas. I had coffee with some friends this morning and mentioned that I just wished I could go out for dinner with my Texas girlfriends. I was thinking of how fun it would be to hang out with Michelle, to laugh with Dana. To have a girls night with all those girls I love down South. I miss them because I feel connected to them.
It's a connection that grew over time and keeps lasting. I met my friend Nancy at a table where we were eating pizza in the church basement, like seven years ago. I didn't know in that moment that God had just brought someone in my life who would be a lasting friend. We met Tammy and Jenny and Angie and Mel and that group took root in my heart. Different people and different relationships, but God put us together for a very special season of life. The kind that sort of cements you in each other's heart, wherever you end up going. I love how God does that. And years after having met that group, we're still in touch. Some friends come and go. That's just the way life works. Some stay. In some cases, there are miles between you, but the heart connection was real, so the distance doesn't change the love.
I love the verse in the Bible that says, A man who has friends must himself be friendly. But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. That's a powerful heart connection. A tried-and-true connection. One that involves a lot of trust and a lot of grace. I think of Michelle. At twelve years old, I couldn't have known that I'd still want to wear best-friend necklaces with her twenty-two years later.
Or maybe I did know. That I was hers and she was mine.
Friendship. It can be complicated--girls can have drama. I don't look forward to seeing Ashtyn go through hurt feelings with friends. Girls can be vicious! And even as grown-up women, things can be complicated. We can have hurt feelings and feel frustrated and confused. Remember, we don't have to be BFFs with everyone. That's okay. And some friendships are different from others. One relationship doesn't have to mirror the other. And there's something like a daisy chain effect when it comes to people. You introduce someone to a friend, and they click and their friendship takes off and you feel--well, you have mixed feelings. They tackled that on Sofia the First the other day (for all you moms of young girls who watch Disney, you know Sofia). And I watched it with Ash and my heart sort of just hurt watching it, because it happens in real life and can happen whether you're five years old or thirty-five years old. You know how that goes. You introduce someone to someone else, and the next thing you know, they're having them over for coffee and doing playdates--but you're no longer part of the equation. And on Sofia, it all wrapped up perfectly, but in real life, it doesn't always work that way.
Remember what I said about all of us having different personalities and doing friendship differently? This goes back to that. We react differently to situations. We are not all the same. And that's okay. I mentioned earlier that I'm not the kind of girl who needs a ton of friends. I like knowing people. I like having women in my life. I may only need a handful of bosom friends (if you're an Anne of Green Gables fan, you understood that reference. If not, it just means super close), but that handful is vital to my emotional health. (And Jeff's! I think he'd go nuts if I didn't have women in my life to vent to and talk with.)
I tell Ashtyn that I think we have to be the kind of friend we want to have. What does that look like in your life? You might think we all want the same things--but we don't. For some women, availability is super important in friendship. You need to be with people who are available. For others, they need to be with outgoing, talkative people. For some of us, trust is paramount. You need to confide in someone and know she's trustworthy. Some women love to give advice. Every time you tell them something, they want to offer a solution or challenge you to fix it. But for some of us, we need friends who are better at listening. I appreciate a friend who just listens and doesn't judge and who doesn't need to give me tons of advice.
Some women connect best with people who believe what they believe. They feel the most comfortable with women who are just like them. It's important to me to have friends from different walks of life. Some women, in truth, want friends with a high social status. They want to be part of the popular crowd (and unfortunately, this can still happen among grown-up women). Some of us could care less about that (thankfully). Some of us need to be around friends who help us grow into better, more mature women. Some of us need to be around people who are all about fun. Some need people who are all about loyalty and respect. It's good to recognize what kind of friend you need and what kind you're drawn to. And what kind of friend you want to be.
Sensitive to the feelings of those around you.
A good listener.
Caring in practical ways.
Ready to laugh.
A true friend is a gift.
P.s. The clip above is from Anne of Green Gables. Obviously, I am a fan. I realize some girls have not grown up with this obsession. Seriously. It's awesome.