It’s been happening a lot more frequently lately. It happened in June on a rainy run, then again in July on a quiet unplanned afternoon. It happened 3 distinct times in Bali and one early morning in Eastern Washington this month, watching the sunrise over a teepee as the horses were stirring.
It happened again last week-on a Sunday in fact. I was seriously deliriously drunk on friendship.
The day started typical enough- I hit snooze once or twice on the alarm, turned on the coffeemaker as I brushed my teeth and shook out dog food in the dark, read a couple of chapters in 1 Corinthians, then headed out the door to meet Mandy for a walk and coffee as the sun was just coming up. Time with Mandy is ALWAYS good and that would have been enough for a good day. But it didn’t stop there.
Next was church with Ros and an unexpected but smile-inducing appearance of Alexa beside us in the pew. After church, we stopped by a U-Pick Dahlia garden nestled into a quiet country road and breathed in the air of late summer, beautiful skies and the promise of fall in a barely-there chill. Next was beautiful fashion time with Jess whose smile lights up the room, and then an afternoon of sharing food and words and books with a whole pile of girls- new and old.
There were texts from a few other friends and my sweet sisters, a sister-in-law and Renee. There was a blogpost that had gone unread until that day in perfect unplanned timing and an email and a facebook message from new friends as well as the usual texting string with Pam.
By the time I got to the Dahlias, I was a little giddy. At Jess’s I was feeling buzzed. At the girls group I was all warm and cozy and I cried the whole way home out of sheer gratefulness and awareness of this wonderful drug I have access to called my GIRLFRIENDS.
I am beyond thankful that my family females- by blood and by marriage- are included in this group, because I know how rare that is and how blessed I am.
I am grateful for the old friends like Tara and Becky and Anna and Robyn and Stephanie who know me- REALLY know me and haven’t held that against me. I am grateful for relatively new friends like Ros and Chris and the “Guatemala girls” where friendships are made fast and strong from bonds of pain and empathy or shared experiences. I am so excited about new old friends like Tracy and Rachel who make me smile every time I read their words because you see their kind, good hearts shining out on the page. I am grateful (and sorry) that there are so many who I could name and I just don’t have the time or space! (You KNOW I love you!)
I am aware as I’m typing that there are all kinds of feelings these words might evoke. There are those who TOTALLY get what I’m saying and there are those who might feel deep pain and loneliness at these words. I am aware that many have been hurt by girl friends for all kinds of reasons and many have been traumatized by fake girl friends who should not have been allowed to use this power of friendship for evil. I am aware that some are the ones who’ve done the hurting and have not deserved to be called friend. I am aware that some are shy or scared or overwhelmed or ashamed or all kinds of other things that keep them from having these types of relationships, but to all of you I would challenge you with one thing:
Start over. Try again.
Determine right now to respect and cherish the friendships you do have and if you don’t have any then give another girl a chance. Pick her from somewhere- search her out at your gym or your office or your church or your neighborhood. Start over with little trusting pieces of yourself and learn that we are not all bad. Or if you were the “bad one”, well then, change, dang it. Be a friend- be a GOOD friend. Take a sip of true friendship and trust and respect the enormous gift that it is to be and to have a friend.
Hear me here and think this through because I have figured this out- by naming, calling out, saying out loud, acknowledging all those things we think about but then hide behind- envy, comparison, bitterness, jealousy, fear, inadequacy, insecurity- we take away their power to destroy our friendships and darken our lives. We demolish the power they have to trap us in depression and anger and to convince us that no one cares.
Let’s be the kind of friends that talk about these things, admitting them to each other and asking for forgiveness and granting it when we slip up. Let’s fight for our friendships and not just throw them over the bridge while downing the bottle of bitterness in a brown paper bag when we misunderstand or are mistreated. I think what we will see is that we are not alone- that we are all speaking each others’ thoughts and hearts and struggles and we are all on the same side.
And so again for me, as usual, it all comes back to words. The power of words to heal and to bond or to steal and to bind. To encourage and enable or to defeat and dismiss. Let’s agree to use our words for good and to build each other up and help each other along on this road we are all walking along together.
The strength, encouragement, love and endurance that comes from these relationships is better than any drug I could ever imagine because there is nothing quite like a girl friend friendship high. So to you my friends, old and new and anywhere in between- Cheers!