I remember being the new girl who needed a friend. Living on the inside and then suddenly living on the outside. I remember observing others make new friends, with an ease I couldn’t replicate. And then memorizing Bible verses about friendship, hoping they would turn me into an extrovert.
I remember wondering what was wrong with me, before I knew I was afraid. And also wired differently.
I remember the gossip that left a heavy wall in my heart and begging God to make me less ridiculous at small talk. And of course, I remember when I was the only one not invited to the club.
I remember later, becoming an insider, but seeing more value in the ones still on the outside. And wishing the sparkly people understood that sometimes people make poor choices from a place of pain. That there’s often a deeper story we haven’t invited out.
I remember how my big sister shared her friends with me and spoke for me when I was afraid. And a solid handful of close friends, I look back on as pillars who made me belong. And the unexpected friendships, obvious gifts from God at perfect times.
I remember friends I grew to love, who moved away. And the one I loved who died so young because of cancer.
All of this. The parts that hurt, the prayers, the work, the revealed weaknesses, seeing the underdogs and thanking God for the ones who saw me. The gifts and pure enjoyment, as well as the losses. These all became a part of me I wouldn’t trade. These shaped me, and they shaped my friendship with God.
Many times, friendships drove me to God. And He loved me in the middle of the hurts and the messes. Even though I just wanted Him to take those away. He used the changes I resisted to work in me and help me care more for other people. He showed me my shortcomings were nothing special, not so different from those of anyone else. And He does all this still.
God’s grace has been real to me through friends. Even the ones who humiliated me when they sent my underwear up the flagpole. Through those who labored long beside me to memorize the McDonald’s rap or make the Janet Jackson dance routines. Those who entertained and terrified me with shopping cart races in the Target parking lot and took me out for ice cream after breakups. Who shared wedding days and helped me plan baby showers and then became Mommies beside me. Who shared their stories around fondue and brought their babies over to play with mine and prayed over me when life got scary. Who helped me and let me help them. Who taught me and learned from me. Who do these still.
Thank you God, for the grace of friendship.
**To learn more about this flash-mob of writers who join together and post on Five-Minute Fridays, click here. I wrote this Friday afternoon, but some of our favorite friends blessed us with their presence for the evening, so I didn’t get to add photos and post until today. Totally worth it! 🙂