Best Friend

When I was little, I had a best friend. The kind where we knew how many days apart our birthdays were and celebrated all of them together. The kind that went to my same church, my same school, and whose family looked pretty much the same as mine. As we grew into preteens we would often dress alike, and sometimes argue like sisters over really dumb stuff (like boys) and then be best friends again 5 minutes later. Our relationship was based on a lot of sameness and holds most of my dearest childhood memories. We are still friends, but from across the country and mostly via Facebook, with very little sameness left to claim, other than the shared values learned as we navigated our early lives together.

Fast forward to adult-life. Friendships are hard. Hard to find, hard to build, and hard to hold on to. I’m the first to admit that I struggle to be a good friend in this season of life. There have been seasons where I was the friend who could run over and watch your kids, or bring you soup when you are sick, but that is not the season I am in today. Today consists of caring for my children and car lines and working in an office and more car lines and ballet and ball games and church and a husband and well, friendship just doesn’t always make the cut.

Don’t get me wrong, I have many “friends”. Like on Facebook- 942 last time I checked. And there are friends at the office and friends at the playground after school and friends at ballet and friends at church. But how are we supposed to form those deep, abiding friendships when we are spread so thin? I am still trying to figure that out.

Women are relational. We are wired for community. For connection. It is how God designed us and we long for those deeper more intimate friendships. But they rarely just “happen”. And cultivating them is much like a romance. If you come on too strong you drive people away. If you are too reserved they lose interest. If you share too much too soon they are scared of getting involved. If you never share anything personal the relationship never gets beyond a mere acquaintance. So, what on earth are we supposed to do? I started looking at my life and the absence of those deeper relationships with other women and asked myself a few questions.

Who has God placed in my path on a regular basis?

For me, this was my work friends and “playground mom” friends. I am a natural extrovert, so talking to others is easy for me. Listening, not so much. I had to start doing less talking and more listening. {One time at church a sweet friend and fellow talker handed me a business card  that said in very small type “stop talking“. I keep it in my Bible to remind me.} Over the months/years this group of playground moms has become my “tribe”. We have the most hilarious (and sometimes inappropriate) group messages and we also share the hard stuff. The stuff you don’t post on Facebook. We are each other’s cheerleaders. It is a beautiful thing. And we don’t even go to the same church. Gasp.

What friendships are worth investing in?

That might seem a little harsh. But the truth is, we only have so much time to give. And some relationships are worth sacrificing for and some simply are not. Evaluating which friendships are sharpening me and which ones are sucking the life out of me has been hard and sometimes painful, but necessary in creating margin for the life-giving ones.

What do I have to offer?

I am not the friend who remembers your birthday and bakes a cake. I am also not the friend who texts you right back. It might be a few hours. Or a few days. But I can be the friend who will make you coffee and sit at the kitchen table and listen to your heart without an agenda or judgement. I can do that. I can share burdens, keep confidences, and pray. I can do that. Learning what my strengths are as a friend helps me not feel so guilty about the things I can’t do.

I have come to the conclusion that a handful of true, deep, and healthy friendships can be even better than having that one “best friend” like we had when we were young. Friends who overlook shortcomings and dirty dishes and misbehaving children. Friends like mine.