Friendship is tricky. I’m sure I’ve written about that before, how making friends is like dating without the romantic part. You meet, you decide if you have chemistry, you go on some “dates” to test things out. It’s hard, and unlike the romantic kind of dating, people don’t always make time in their lives for new friendships.
Life is busy and hectic, the kids have their own schedules, and sometimes you just cannot make space for one. more. thing. I get it. Once upon a time, that was me. My life was full and if I met someone new I had to evaluate whether or not I could (or wanted to) fit that person into my circle of friends. I’m sure I missed out on some beautiful friendships because I couldn’t or wouldn’t make time for them.
But I’d like to whine for just a few minutes here, if you don’t mind.
I miss having a best friend.
I’ve only been in this state for 18 months, and in this particular neighborhood for six months, so I realize that I’m still quite new. And I have made some friends, so I’m not totally lonely and friendless, and some of those friends are very dear to me. Today I’m just missing a particular deep kind of woman-friendship.
I miss the kind of friend who is (nearly) always willing to meet up for coffee or aimless window shopping.
I miss the friend who will sit at my kitchen table and chat with me while I run around the room in my pajamas trying to set it to rights.
I miss shopping with a friend who was brave and honest enough to tell you if those pants made my butt look wide or that top looked like something my Grandma would wear. And I knew she loved me so I trusted her to tell me the truth.
I miss the friend who came and comforted me while I was having a medical problem, and then stayed with my children until after midnight while I was at the hospital getting treatment.
I miss the one who sang beside me on the stage and in the car, and anywhere else we were together.
I miss the friend who was my pregnancy buddy, who had her first baby just before I had mine so we could raise them together as we stumbled our way through motherhood, reassuring each other that we were doing a great job.
I miss the inside jokes that made me feel like I belonged.
I miss the friend who took me to yard sales as we hunted for hidden treasures in other people’s junk.
I miss the one who didn’t care that I wasn’t a “hugger” and hugged me anyway, showing me that it’s nothing to be afraid of and is actually quite nice once you get used to it.
I miss the friend who walked with me through the horrors of infertility and loss and didn’t shy away from the pain but held my hand and prayed with me.
I miss the one who would bring her family with ours on vacation.
I miss the friend who was there when neither of us had husbands any more, who reminded me that although we felt broken it wouldn’t always be that way. (And she was right)
I miss the one who came to sit with me in the wee hours of the morning at the hospital when my daughter had to be rushed into emergency surgery late at night.
I miss the friend who always had my back, who took my side when I needed her to, who was brave enough to tell me when I was wrong, who was for me and wanted the best for me.
I’ve had the joy of loving many best friends over my life, and all of them had a hand in shaping me into the person I am today. I still enjoy many of those friendships even though we are now separated by distance. Social media and the telephone help a lot, but seeing each other once or twice a year just isn’t enough for me. I’d like to find some sister-friends in my zip code too.
And maybe I’m being unrealistic in this day and age. Once upon a time, before cell phones and perpetual internet connectedness, people had to connect in other ways, like knocking on a friend’s door and sharing a cup of tea.
I have lots of Facebook contacts. Some date all the way back to my childhood, and I love being able to keep up with people who knew me before I had all my adult teeth. But I fear that the casual nature of online friendships doesn’t always translate well into face-to-face relationships. It’s easy to make a comment or post whenever you have a minute, and that keeps the conversation flowing, sort of. That’s not the same as looking into someone’s eyes, hearing the tone of their voice, and observing body language. I want more of that. I crave the kind of intimacy I’ve had with friends who know my faults and accept me anyway. Maybe that makes me old-fashioned.
Friendship, like love, is nurtured by shared experiences. And it takes time. It also takes intention. You can’t sit around and just wait for it to happen. You have to find someone else who is interested in developing the relationship and both of you have to make room for it in your lives. It’s hard. There’s no blinking red light or gauge on people’s foreheads to tell you who is going to eventually make a good friend so there are going to be some false starts. And let me tell you, it takes a mighty big dose of courage to make the first move because rejection stings.
To paraphrase the great philosopher Phil Collins, “You can’t hurry friendship; oh, you’ll just have to wait. They say friends don’t come easy – it’s a game of give and take.” You’ve got to trust and give it time, no matter how long it takes.
I know my next bestie is out there and I’m not giving up. Relationships are too important, and I’m convinced God created us for relationship – first with Him, and then with each other. And I’m also convinced that He didn’t intend for us to settle for surface-y, Facebook post-y relationships to fulfill our desire to connect, so I’m not settling either. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who feels this way. Maybe, just maybe, there’s another woman out there who is in need of someone to come alongside her and share the journey, face to face and heart to heart.
Hang on, BFF. I’m coming for you.