The Gift of Friendship

Today I had lunch with a very dear friend. It’s the third time in four weeks that I’ve spent two or more hours talking with a friend over lunch. “Two Hour Lunch Friends” as I call them are the very best kind of friend you can have. They are people that you allow to look into the deepest part of your heart. They see and know the real you and they love you anyway. These are friends that agree with me most of the time but aren’t afraid to challenge me when they think I’m wrong. They give me new insights and ask tough questions. I told my friend today that she was cheaper than therapy. She laughed. But the truth is, I always leave feeling better for having spent time with her. As I was thinking about the three women I would put into this category of friendship I realized that these are women who are teaching me that I can be vulnerable and still see myself as whole and complete, and worthy of love. And I am lucky to have found them.

I also have two sisters that I consider to be my best friends. Unfortunately, they live far away and having lunch with them isn’t possible on a regular basis. But our phone conversations often end with: “Oh, my word, I can’t believe how long we’ve been talking. Where did the time go?” When we do get a chance to be together there will always be laughter and food and fond memories. Like most sisters we’ve had our moments. But when I look at them now I see two remarkable, strong and wise women. Women who have my back no matter what. From them I’ve learned that it doesn’t really matter who mom loved the most, what mattered was that she loved us all to the best of her ability. That when you compare yourself to anyone else you always lose. That having a sister you can call when you are sad, discouraged and confused is better than just about anything, including chocolate cake with fudge frosting. Somewhere I read that if you have a sister you have been blessed. If you have a sister who is your friend you are doubly blessed. I am truly doubly blessed.

About a year ago God brought another group of women into my life. New friends. I had agreed to lead a Ladies Bible Study and had prayed that God would lead just the right women into the group. I didn’t know any of them very well when we started. Some of them I didn’t know at all. Our backgrounds were very different and we often see things from different angles. But this little group has built a strong bond. They know that I struggle with depression and that I analyze everything to death. I know their weak areas as well. During one of our times of sharing it came out that most of them had run with the “bad” crowd in their younger years. I was a “good” girl. I said to them that if I’d know them when I was younger I wasn’t sure I would have been their friend. When I apologized for saying that, one of them looked at me and said: “We would have eaten you alive.” Everyone laughed and agreed. But here’s what these fantastic women have taught me. Diversity in friendship is good. It challenges you and blesses you in ways you never expected. So, to my special “peeps,” thanks for touching my life in your own unique ways.

Somewhere I heard or read a story about a person who was having a really bad day. A helpful friend pointed out that God was always with us, no matter what. The discouraged persons reply was: “Yes, but right now I need a God who has arms.” I think that’s why God made friends. To be His arms and to love us in concrete ways.

This is the time of year when churches start new small groups, Ladies Bible Studies, and Grief Share classes. It’s a great time to make new friends. To build new relationships. To gather around the table. My book recommendation this week is called Bread and Wine and it’s written by Shauna Niequist. It has great stories and recipes and it’s about the importance of community. Why not make something special and reach out to an old friend or make a new one. Your life will be richer for it.

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