There’s this gut wrenching feeling that hits after these reunions. One minute I’m care-free, singing some Adele song off-key and much louder than I would in front of any other human beings… and the next, I’m on a plane, alone, heading back to reality. I love my reality, but it also doesn’t include 5 women who I love like my very own sisters. When I find myself embracing them in those final moments before our goodbyes, I try to ignore the fact that we aren’t college roomies anymore. There will be no more late night chats, beers by the pool and laughing until I physically can. not. breathe. Instead, tomorrow I’ll wake up to a hungry toddler and a full email inbox. Tomorrow is real life.
We are 6 women who met 8 years ago in a Dordt College dorm, now in 5 different states and 2 different countries. Marriage and miscarriage. Divorce and new jobs. Babies and break-ups. We’ve been through it all. But most importantly, we’ve been through it all together.
In anticipation for this year’s reunion, the countdown started at something like 210 days. You can imagine the build-up, the expectations and hopes.
But this reunion started different for me. The differences between us were more noticeable than they had been before, and the distance between us, at times, felt like a gaping, unfamiliar hole.
We are bonded by just a few college years, which included some of our worst and best days…yet many of them beg to be forgotten, especially as we get older. Some things we used to laugh about now usher in bad memories and old regrets.
During our first day together I found us standing on little common ground. My heart ached.
This is harder than normal. Will last summer’s pre-meditated “E4” tattoo one day be a small inked regret? 😉 We are different. Too different?
At times our only connection seemed to be the stories and memories of the women we used to be.
But on Saturday morning everything changed.
We had a surprise baby shower for one the girls and she thoughtfully shared a devotional on friendship. We sat there clinging to the words some of us were so thirsty to hear:
Beyond common interests, affection and a sense of humor — the aim of friendship is to sow into each other words of eternal life and blessing. We remind each other of God’s wisdom and provision, refresh each other’s spirit and strengthen each other’s faith. (The Miracle of Friendship)
I like to believe we had been doing this, but these words were a fresh reminder in a time where common interests and life stages were starting to feel like missing links. This was a bold encouragement for what I dreamed our friendship would grow into.
Good friendships require walking with one another down some hard roads, losses, a bad diagnosis, financial problems and much more. We need friends to help us remember what God has done for us and that He will be faithful. (The Miracle of Friendship)
As we looked around the table through our tear-filled eyes, I think there was a common understanding: We need each other. We will press on. We sat and laughed over mimosas and adorable baby boy outfits, and talked about how we could take our friendship to the next stage.
We agreed to let the past be the past, and to start building our friendship on who we are now, and continue to build each other up into the women God created us to be. This doesn’t mean we need to talk every day and know every detail, or be each other’s only friends. Instead, intentionally being there to encourage, hold accountable and stand by each other in joyous and difficult times.
We can’t change how we came together, but we can change how we move forward.
All too often friendships are sustained by a thin layer of something shared– location, interests, beliefs and the list goes on. And sure, having friends with these commonalities can be great, but wouldn’t it grow us so much more to also have friends who think differently, have opposing opinions, are in different stages of life and require we love and care for them in a ways that don’t necessarily come naturally to us?
Wouldn’t we learn so much about God’s desire for community if instead of walking away when friendship got hard, we pressed in deeper, loved through difficulty and relentlessly served as a vessel for hope and companionship?
What if we took friendships more seriously, and viewed them as the life-giving relationships I believe God intended them to be? What if we stepped into friendships with a deep level of commitment and selflessness– seeing friendship as more about others than ourselves?
I recently read that our definition of friendship is changing, and people are rarely investing in high-commitment, lifelong friends. The average Facebook user has over 350 friends, but only 2 close friends– a few decades ago that 2 was 6. With online friends you can just “un-follow” if the posts of their dog annoy you, and with the click of the mouse make the decision “un-friend”. Is this impacting the way we do friendship in real life? Are we letting these shallow interactions become a replacement for deep personal connection?
Of course, we can’t build a committed friendship with everyone who crosses our path, but are there some friends in your life you want to go the distance with?
Are you helping the friends you currently have grow, or are you holding them in the past?
I challenge you to take a bold step in friendship over the next week, and I would love to hear about it in the comments.
Friendship shouldn’t be easy. It shouldn’t come and go like fashion trends . Some of these concepts are new to me, too, and I am looking forward digging deeper and discovering what this looks like in my life.
I’ll close with more brilliance from the devotional mentioned and quoted above.
(Don’t mind me, I’ll just be in a puddle of tears looking through pictures from the other weekend.)
But having your soul knitted to another isn’t for the faint of heart.
It means you bear your own hurts along with those of your friend. You cry when they cry and laugh when they laugh and feel like your heart will break wide open when you face not having them by your side.
But it’s worth it because they cause you to love harder, laugh louder, live richer and become more than you could ever be without them. It’s putting your heart and your name in the hands of another person and saying, “I trust you with all of this,” as they do the same. (The Miracle of Friendship)