We were made for community. God put the desire within each of us to find our tribe, that group of people we can relate to, a circle of friends where we feel like we belong. For some of us that means we never leave the town of our birth and we have a six-or-less-degrees-of-separation relationship with most everyone we meet. That was me. I lived more than 40 of my years within a 30 mile radius of the hospital I was born in, and I couldn’t go into a store without seeing somebody I knew. Until 2006. That was the year we moved 3 hours away from everything familiar, to South Carolina, and I had to start building my tribe all over again.
When we first moved I couldn’t remember how the process of making friends worked. I hadn’t had to do it in so long! Was it like dating? (Yes, a little) Was it OK to approach a stranger in line at Target to make a new friend? (Fine for light conversation, but not generally a socially acceptable way to make lasting friendships) Where do you find friends??
In time I did manage to make a few friends who were not scared off by my quirky personality and screwball wit, and some of them even lived in my very own neighborhood. (The neighborhood pool turns out to be an excellent place to make friends, assuming it’s summertime) One dear neighbor and friend, Sylvia, shares (among many other fine qualities) my love of “the bean” (the coffee bean, that is) and one of our very favorite things to do is drop in on each other and sit around chatting over a good cup of coffee. The cleanliness of our homes is not a factor, nor is the state of our faces and hair. Considering that we’ve been on vacation together several times in our 7 years of friendship and seen each other with early morning bed head and in swim attire too many times to mention, worrying about whether or not we’re made up properly is way down on the list of priorities. It’s the community that counts. (I say Sylvia and I have been friends for about 7 years, although if you ask her she’ll probably tell you it’s been 5 years because we have a little difference of opinion on when we met and became friends. It doesn’t matter, except that it gives me something to tease her about.)
The photo above was taken in January of this year on a particularly cold day, one of those days when you just want to stay in your pajamas, cover yourself with blankets, and watch movies all day. In fact, I’m wearing my pajamas in the photo, not that you can tell. I was on the phone with Sylvia and we were talking about how we’d like to get together for coffee but quite frankly, neither of us was willing to leave the comfort of a warm home to walk/drive to the other’s house, and there were children to consider. And did I mention that it was really, really cold? So one of us (ahem, that would be me) thought it would be cute to have a virtual coffee break together. I used my phone to take this picture of my unadorned, uncombed self drinking coffee out of my favorite Dayspring mug and post it on Facebook. Then Sylvia took one of herself in a similar pose and posted it, so we could see each other. It sounds a little corny, but you know what? It mattered to us. Posting pictures on a social media site of ourselves in similar poses may not sound like much to most people but for us it was just one more thread in the tapestry of our relationship. One more story in the collection of stories that we share. One more “Remember when” that we can talk about when we’re rocking in our chairs on the front porch, two gray heads leaning close to share a giggle over times past.
I have a theory that friendships aren’t built on the big things, the crises that rise up from time to time. Oh, those situations will show the true colors of a friendship, for sure, but I believe that the strongest friendships, the lasting ones, are built on the little things, all stacked up like Lego blocks. It’s a phone call just to check in, or a morning spent drinking coffee and dissecting middle school social politics. It’s having dinner together and not bothering to make the house spotless beforehand. It’s being real and allowing someone to see what’s behind the well-dressed, made-up outer shell, and it’s making time to be together. It’s the first time you admit that you don’t know how to get your kids to behave, and then all the times after that when you admit it again and again. It’s speaking grace into one another’s lives because we are none of us perfect. And it’s doing something silly like taking a picture of yourself drinking coffee and posting it so you can see each other and drink coffee “together” online.