Thursday, March 5, 2015

Friends are Friends Forever

Well, this week has had me thinking about friendship. 

Tuesday, I got up earlier than usual and drove to Jackson to be at the hospital for my friend's surgery.  It was kind of serious in nature, so I really wanted to be there for Julie.  Let it be noted that my love for someone can most accurately be measured by how early I am willing to get up for them.......but I digress.  No, to best sum up our friendship, I'd say that if Julie and I are in a room together, chances are everyone else in there is wondering what in the world we're laughing about.        

She and I go way back.  All the way back to elementary school when several of us, girls, would sit in the balcony together during church and whisper and write notes back and forth, that is, until one of our mothers would spot us from the choir loft and shoot death rays through the sanctuary with her eyes.  That balcony was a long way from the choir loft, but not too far to pick up what their eyes were putting down.   

At that point, we'd all commence doing something more spiritual in nature like thumbing through our Children's Living Bibles to find the pictures......or writing Bible verses on the back of offering envelopes in elegant bubble letters....or filling in all the those blanks in the front of our Bibles like Presented To, Birthdays, and Special Occasions.  As long as it was Bible related, we were safe.     

It's funny how several of my closest friendships to this day started out in that church building.  Many of the relationships that took root there have stood the test of time.  They've been around as far back as my memory will take me.  We've pasted magazine pictures onto construction paper while sitting in little wooden chairs......we've helped each other with super tough decisions like who to take to the dance......we've had more sleepovers than we could ever count......we've worn less than ideal bridemaids dresses on each other's behalf......we've thrown graduation parties for each other's kids.....we've even grieved the loss of our fathers together.     

Yeah, little girls, who I drank red Kool-Aid with at Bible school, while putting butter ring cookies on each of our fingers, are still my friends today at almost age 47.  That's a long time.  It's been a while since I tried, so I'm not even sure a butter ring cookie would go around any of my fingers now except maybe the pinky, but it's obvious that friendships that formed back in white knee socks and black patent leather shoes are very enduring, indeed.

There are other friendships that start later in life and they're just as precious in their own way. Friendships from childhood sometimes come about from decisions made by our parents, but the friends we have later in life are often those that we seek out ourselves. They are some of the very first major decisions we make on our own......and some of the most important.  They can shape who we are and which way we're headed.

We've all got family and that's a wonderful thing, but friends.....well, they're for us to decide. There is a world full of potential candidates and it's all up to us to choose who we want to surround ourselves with.....who we want to travel along with us as we pass through life.  Our paths randomly cross with all sorts of people each day, but the roads to our friends....well, those are deliberate.     

I got word from one of those friends today that she's received a cancer diagnosis.....very treatable, but still not what I was expecting to hear this morning.  Having her permission, I'd like to tell you about Amanda.  She and I became friends during our teenage years.  We've soaked up a lot of sun together on beaches and piers....really anywhere our chairs and boom box with its eight D batteries could find a sunny spot.  We passed notes in class, even spoke our own little language, carpooled to school in our cars that were so memorable (not in a good way) that they were given proper names, and we may or may not have even stolen a traffic sign or two.           

She lives a few hours from here now and, while we try to visit when she comes home, we don't talk as much as we'd like.  But, when I heard from her today, it was like I was transported back to her pier, slathered in baby oil, with Cyndi Lauper and Tears for Fears blaring between our two chairs.  She was, is, and always will be my friend.  I guess if you ever deeply connect with a person, it's always there.  It never goes away.  No matter what.                           

I suppose it must be my age mixed with the events of the week that have me in a more sentimental frame of mind when it comes to my buddies.  Some of us are scattered and some are close by, but we all get busy in our own little lives....running the same trails everyday.  Our circling, repetitive days start to create deep ruts that we get comfortable in and before you know it, a lot of time has passed since you've spoken or visited.  I guess as I get older, I realize how much I need them and how much concentrated effort it takes to keep them in our crazy, busy world. 

It also got me thinking about the wacky way we do things nowadays.  Social media tricks us into believing it's all we need to have a friendship.  Texting tells us it's just as good as talking only quicker and easier and less restricting.  Our packed schedules make us believe that we'll have more time for them just as soon as......fill in the blank.  Pinterest convinces us to wait and have company when we have time to make our house look like this and our food and table look like that.  Our relatively young age assures us we have plenty of time.......things will settle down one day.  But, what I think is that technology has hijacked the art of friendship and warped our sense of responsibility towards our friends.       

I'm as guilty as anyone of descending the spiral staircase of more impersonal communication and getting stuck in the deep ruts of busyness.  So, I decided to pick up the phone and begin a conscious effort to start calling my friends more frequently.  I got started today.  There's no device or means of communication that can take the place of hearing your friend's voice.  "LOL" can never be as warm as listening to your friend laugh.  Likes and comments and favorites don't mean near as much as telling them yourself.  Let me just say that I had a most delightful afternoon hearing the beautiful music of my friends' voices on the other end of the line.

Friends are part of who we are.  Whether they've been around for 40 years or 6 months, whether you talk to them everyday or once a year, they're all gifts.  They are given by God, but they don't come without responsibility.  They require time and attention and effort and sacrifice.     

And they're worth every single drop that you put into them. 

Life is hard, y'all.....and it's passing quickly.  We need each other. 

So, do yourself a favor and call a friend or do lunch. 

And do me a favor and pray for my friends, Amanda and Julie. 

Thanks so much and y'all have a great weekend!     
 
             

                                 

8 comments:

  1. I hear you! I have a friend, I've known since kindergarten! We don't talk much anymore but our hearts love each other still!

    I pray that both your friends will be well, and that they will see God in it all.

    Deanna

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    1. I love that......."our hearts love each other still". Sweet, Deanna. Thanks for your prayers.

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  2. A beautiful tribute to friendship!

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  3. Every Friday I try to pick up the phone and actually CALL a friend. Sadly, most often I get their voice mail and later a texted response. But, I keep doing it and sometimes we do get to connect. I never regret it.

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    1. It's great that you have a day set aside for that! Good idea, Missy June!

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  4. Prayers to your friends Joni.
    I do love talking on the phone with my friends and hearing their voices, if we can't see each other. Old school. But, technology has its advantages too. I love this post, and really, all of them. Like another reader said, you should write a book. You have a way with words. Have a nice weekend, Kathleen in Az

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    1. You're too kind, Kathleen! And I agree......technology definitely has its advantages! Thanks for the prayers!

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