Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Ode to Friendship

I have a story to share if I may.  It is about my pen pal, Liz.  Okay, so we don't really "pen" our letters to each other anymore, but when we signed up to be randomly matched up with another, I don't think either of us anticipated how our relationship would change our lives.  We were close to thirteen and loved to talk about boys.  It was exciting to write this person you didn't know, to get pictures of them, and to hear stories from the other side of the country.

We grew close and promised each other to be bridesmaids in each other's weddings, but what did we know?  I think even then, as a young teenager, I was doubtful that we would keep our promise.  I knew from observation and from being told before that you don't always keep your friendships into adulthood.  I didn't know why at the time--it didn't seem that hard--but I understood that it didn't happen for whatever reason.

But then we got into our high school years.  We found that a truly unbiased observer, one who knew none of the parties involved, was more valuable than we had realized.  We began to depend on each other as a sounding board, as a venting partner, as a confidant.

High school turned into college and the bonds were even stronger.  And then my family planned a trip to the East Coast.

"I'm way too close to you not to see you," I remember telling her in an email. "I HAVE to see you."

So we arranged for me to leave my family for one day of our trip to take the train to visit her.  I was so nervous on the train ride there as I texted her, "On my way!"  There was so much at stake with our first meeting.  She could be nothing like the girl I'd talked to on the phone.  It was almost like a blind date, but the risk was greater.  If we didn't click in person, would it dissolve the entire relationship we had taken years  and postage to build?

She met me at the train station.  Her car pulled up to the curb, and I was surprised to find that I recognized her as soon as she approached.  I climbed into the front seat of her car, we hugged, and then she pulled out of the parking lot.  We started chatting, and all of the sudden, it was like we'd be friends forever...because, well, we had.

After that day, I was ruined.  Talking in person was so much more fun, so much more rewarding than talking on the phone or emailing.  I was hooked.  We didn't do much that first day we "met".  We just talked...all day, like girls do.

A few months later, I told her, "I have to see you again."  So she flew out that summer and spent a week at my house.  Spending a longer amount of time together was even better.  Those little things you learn from watching someone in the moment...I began to notice them.  It was like now I could see the whole Liz.  Before, I only got to see bits and pieces.  Now, the picture was being filled in.  I learned things that most girlfriends know about each other: likes and dislikes, oft used phrases, mannerisms, etc.

And then my then-boyfriend proposed and I was engaged.  There was no question at this point.  She was being in my wedding.

With the emphasis on romantic relationships in our society, we often forget that friendships can be as exciting and as important as a marriage.  The bond you create with your "BFF" is unique and special.  It is to be protected.  They say most people don't have many truly good friends in a lifetime.  Strong friendships are rare and should be cherished.  I guess that is why I'm writing this post.  It is not only a dedication to one of the most unique friendships in my life, but also as a reminder that all friendships, whether with someone across the country or across the town, should be nurtured and protected.

And I am happy to announce that only 8 months after I was married, Liz was also married.  I flew out for her wedding, got to meet her husband-to-be, and participate in such a sacred life event.

2012                                                                                                    2011

This journey has been most special to me, and I might sound sappy writing this entire post.  However, I feel like it should be recorded and shared.  I am thankful to God for His Providence for this sister in Christ has helped me become the person that I am.