A friend loves at all times. She is there to help when trouble comes.
Friendship, it can be the most wonderful thing while also being the hardest. When you open up your heart to let someone in you also open yourself up to everything that comes with it. It’s not all fun nights out and girls’ trips, it’s supporting one another through marriage, divorce, illness, death, career change, financial peaks & valleys, the roller coaster of raising kids, wrinkles, stretch marks and so much more. It’s being vulnerable with one another, trusting them with your stuff and doing your best to create a safe space where they can do the same. Judgement sometimes comes quicker than acceptance, defensiveness before really hearing the other person and we get angry & dismiss rather than give grace. In some seasons of life, especially in motherhood, we often just want to put our head down, stay in our lane and put friendships on pause until you have more time and can make it a priority again…good luck with that! You’ll wind up with no friends and that is the absolute worst thing you could do. Believe me, at times I’ve felt like I was there.
You may be the type who has a lot of friends that are mainly social or you may be the type who would prefer to have a few really close friends that know you deeply. I am sort of a combination of both but what my hearts needs most is real, genuine connection. I’ll be honest, I HATE small talk and I think I am probably pretty bad at it. I want to know what people are going through and know what’s in their heart and at a cocktail party people usually don’t want to veer too far from discussing the latest decorating, workout or skincare craze. There is nothing wrong with that but I typically have zero to contribute in any of those areas. 😉
Let’s get back to talking about girls’ trips…I just got home from one of the best! I got to go back to Ole Miss with my three best friends who I have gone through pretty much ALL of the above with over the last 24 years. It’s been 20 years since we graduated and I’ll be honest we haven’t always been super consistent about getting together. Of course, there was wedding season and then baby shower season. I wish I could say we did an annual trip of some kind every year, we haven’t. But over the last 8+ years we have become more intentional about it and have made more of an effort to get together.
Due to my work and school schedule I couldn’t leave for the weekend until Thursday afternoon which meant I had to drive by myself. I was a little bummed, but then realized I would have 5 hours ALONE in my car!! Started out listening to a book but then switched over to music, needed to get pumped up with some 90s classics. Then I switched over to my running mix and the Ed Sheeran song “Castle on the Hill” came on. I like Ed Sheeran but don’t typically listen to the lyrics too closely. When you’re alone for 5 hours you do a lot of thinking and since I was headed back to my college town my thoughts included a lot of reminiscing. As I exited I-65 and headed onto I-22 for the last stretch of the trip the chorus of the song blared loudly “I’m on my way, driving at 90 down those country lanes…And I miss the way you make me feel, and it’s real…But these people raised me and I can’t wait to go home.” I burst into tears, I’d love to blame it on the enormous sun on the horizon but nope…every emotion I’ve ever felt about these girls came pouring out and my heart was overflowing. I probably listened to the song on repeat for the next hour. I have no clue what the song is actually talking about but at that moment it was talking about me and my 3 besties. Hey girls, I'm on my way!
You show up to college at 18 and leave at 22ish. Out on your own, making your own choices and living with a group of your peers, not your parents, for the first time. Your friends really become your family and, in those years, you raise each other into adults. It’s not pretty most of the time but you know you’re not alone because those college friends are right there with you every step of the way. Because of that, they REALLY know you, not the version of you you’ve created as an adult. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve all changed in the best ways since that time but we are less likely to share all our stuff with people as adults. So, the fact that I am still best friends with my college girls MEANS EVERYTHING TO ME! It’s like the safest and most comfortable blanket you just want to wrap up in and never get up.
From the moment we got to Oxford this past weekend, the conversation never stopped. We talked about our husbands, kids, work, life and a whole bunch of other stuff you don’t want to know…Even when it’s been a year or more since we’ve been together, it’s like not a single day has passed since we met in 1995 and bid farewell to our home away from home in 1999. It was real, authentic and vulnerable…just the way I like it!
Over the last 6 years I have made some of the most incredibly life giving, Christ-centered friendships that I have been able to add to my short list of friends who REALLY know me. They have guided, supported and prayed me through one of the biggest and most unexpected life changes I’ve experienced since meeting James and having Ella & Hannah. In my mid/late-thirties I did not know it would be possible to build those types of relationships and I am extremely grateful.
Whether it’s my friendships that developed at 18 or at 38, they have helped to make me into the woman I am today. Each one of them was a gift from God and I have no doubt they’ve been placed in my life at exactly the right time and completely on purpose. But sometimes, we aren’t open, willing or able to let ourselves be vulnerable enough to let people in to REALLY know us.
Brene Brown talks a lot about True Belonging, she says we need to “Be vulnerable. Get uncomfortable. Be present with people without sacrificing who you are.” True belonging, that’s what everyone wants right? Sometimes it can be hard to find and it takes work. Mutual vulnerability is key and a desire to let people in, neither are easy and take a whole lot of faith. We spend so much time looking out for ourselves that we forget to truly invest in others. Be intentional, put it on your calendar, whether it’s a girls’ trip, coffee or dinner. Or better yet, put yourself out there to make a new friend. As I’ve experienced, it’s worth every minute of the hard work!!
Iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17