I’d like to think I’m a pretty good friend.
After all, when I was ten years old and transferring to a new school I made sure to buy matching necklaces for my best friend and me. You know the kind — the ones that say BE FRI FOR on the first and ST ENDS EVER on the other. When you click them together, voilà! The fate of your friendship is sealed and the code is decrypted: BEST FRIENDS FOREVER. (In my head I added, and ever and ever and ever and ever. What can I say? I’ve always had a bent toward the dramatic side.) I bought the star-shaped kind because she was never much into hearts and I felt like being particularly thoughtful.
I hope you’re not here for a feel-good story because the friendship fell apart, and so did the necklace. It got exceptionally rusty because I refused to take it off for a year. Turns out chlorine isn’t great for cheap jewelry.
I was devastated when we stopped being friends. It wasn’t a Formal Break Up or anything — we didn’t even have a fight. “A changing of seasons,” was how my mom put it. She sat me down and told me we have seasons in life, seasons where certain people are in our lives, and seasons when they’re not.
Suffice it to say, I felt ripped off about the season I was in. I missed her. But when you’re ten years old and the only thing you have in common is Barbies, there’s not a whole lot keeping you together when you change schools. Life moves on. And I guess you have to, too.
My best friend in the whole wide world ended up being the person who was with me all along: my sister. She’s seen me in the good, the bad, and the very, very, very ugly. (Being fourteen is no fun at all.) I firmly believe sisters are built-in companions who are literally not allowed to desert you. It’s fantastic. You’re stuck with them for life! I’m thankful for this sticking.
A little over one year ago, in the midst of my mom’s chemo and my journey in trying to figure out who I am and why I’ve been placed on this Earth, and the rest of the Big Questions I consistently have, I met Sarah. I was instantly nervous. My palms were sweating. She was cool, you know? I sat next to her in church and spilled my iced tea three times. (Three times! I was not cool.) She was a few years older than me, doing fun, amazing, world changing things, like going to school for social work and running non-profit organizations. I was still working on trying not to spill my tea.
We went out for lunch, and she intrigued me. But I was also scared I would ruin everything. I thought: She’s going to think I’m insane. (I’ll let you in on a secret: we’re all a little insane. That’s one of my favorite qualities in a person. A little sprinkle of insanity never hurt anybody. In fact, I think it makes friendships all the more fun.)
Looking back over the year, I see God in every speck of Sarah. He delicately placed her into my fragile, precarious life. I needed her more than I ever knew. She points me to God over and over. Every time I think I’m fine on my own, she points me to God again.
I realized our friendship was the stick-together kind when I sat in her car bawling, feeling like my lungs were going to explode from my body. Sarah didn’t kick me out. Sarah let me cry. Sarah assured my sanity. She even texted me the next day.
Let me tell you, that’s a true friend right there, sister. We’ve road tripped together, walked up and down antique store aisles planning our future babies names, (alright, alright, I admit that was more me than her), and we had desperate conversations about God and His love and His majesty and His wonderful, mad, crazy grace.
God knows our hearts, and He knows our needs — even before we ask them. He knew I needed Sarah, and from what she’s told me, He knew she needed me, too.
Recently, I’ve been wondering if I should give her a friendship necklace. But then I remember where that got me last time, and this season is one I’d like to stay in for awhile.