Friends are people that I've been unbelievably blessed with, wrongly let them act as a god in my life, and have been forced to find a sweet balance between the two. There is something else that the Lord has blessed me with, that comes from Him and Him only. Among the long list of weaknesses, the Lord gave me a large helping of loyalty to those who I am close to. Loyalty is good. Good things only come from the Lord. This quality is not of myself.
To continue with this listing of blessings, the Lord has given me amazing friends to spill this on to and those who continue to teach me what true loyalty looks like.
I have three best friends from high school. We've been an inseparable foursome since our sophomore year, and our relationship remains today. Until we moved a total of 2,000 miles from our comfort zones to various colleges, we didn't realize that our hometown friendship was a rarity.
Their names are Abby, Ashley and Hannah. If you've been around me for a total of five minutes, I'd bet that you've heard of them. I may have sounded something like, "Abbishlihannah." I shamelessly find various ways to work them into conversation. When you love someone as much as I love them, you can't help to talk about them. This is how I should be when it comes to talking about Jesus.
About a year ago, the four of us had a conversation which we all sensed in our heart-of-hearts that it needed to happen. It came naturally, late one night while the lights of Austin, TX disappeared behind us as we drove back to Ash's apartment in Waco. We talked about the mutual realization that we were no longer the same people we were in high school, that different states, schools, life choices, majors and new friends had caused four separate changes. It was like slightly changing the edges to a four piece puzzle so that you knew where the pieces were meant to be, yet the fit was now slightly awkward, slightly forced.
Because of that conversation which was overflowing with understanding, acceptance, and desire to survive these changes, I began a new mindset. It's a mindset where I expect changes, expect disagreeing on various topics, expect different lifestyles but pledge to love unconditionally. It's a daunting task, but while my love could quickly run out, the Lord's is a bottomless, overflowing cup. I often [jokingly] tell them that they could become drug dealers or decide to be a Wiccan, but they "aren't getting rid of me." I pray that the prefix "my-best-friend" would never seem unnatural with their name. This new mindset has caused our relationships to grow and develop in great ways. We are no longer required to fit into the mold of who we were in high school. Instead of that puzzle, I now see us as four separate masterpieces that can stand alone but have an unexplainable beauty when hung side by side.
It's unbelievably to me that we have entered the school year in which we will all turn 21. I feel that it could have been last week when I got off the phone with one of them, excited about homecoming dates and drivers licenses. I was extremely fortunate to get to fly to Savannah, GA for Abs' 21st birthday this past weekend. It was amazing to see in action her life that I have only seen in pictures and heard about over the phone for more than two years. It was a weekend filled with celebrating an extraordinary person. Beyond that, I felt like I was anonymously celebrating our friendship. Not with presents and cake, but by heart-felt conversations before we fell asleep, that sweet and comfortable companionable silence, and choking back tears at airport security. It was an amazing weekend to be together. I can only imagine what it would be like if the foursome was complete.
As I sat in the Savannah airport waiting for my delayed plane and feeling sad to leave, I realized how blessed I was to have friends in Baton Rouge to come back to, to miss while I was gone, who would be waiting up that night to exchange stories from the weekend, who I couldn't wait to see while passing on campus or who I hoped to hang out with at the B. I have no doubt that the Lord loves for us to have friends and for us to glorify Him in those friendships, because I definitely do not deserve these people with my own efforts.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24 (ESV)