Some 18 years ago I met some people who would become “forever friends”. I know this because they told me so. Sadly, at the time of, I admit that I wasn’t a believer of the term. At a young age I had already experienced rejection by my peers which caused extreme trust issues that only layered the already abandonment/rejection issues I had accumulated from birth. Still, I went along for the friendship ride and when they used the terms “Bestie”, or “Bestfriend”, or “BFF”, well, I did too. But cautiously, because inside I was holding my breath for when I would get dropped when the honeymoon phase ended. When they discovered I couldn’t possibly be deserving of the lifelong love and loyalty they were offering (oh the lies we believe).
If this were a perfect world, or if I were writing one of the short stories in my new book (shameless plug), I would say that that never happened. That I never got dropped and those girls were right, and I was so happy to have been proven wrong. But the truth of the matter is, I have been dropped. And actually, I have done my share of dropping (insert audible gasp). But that is the reality of life. It is messy as hell. And honestly I’m at the point where I believe that true love has to be tested. If our bonds with others don’t go through the fire, we will never know if they are strong enough to overcome its flames.
When I look back on my very close relationships with women, I can see that there have been some serious fall outs in several of them. But for many of them, most of them in fact, we have found our way back to each other. I think that is because there was something deeper than just a friendship that drew us to one another. Now I can say, it was a real sisterhood. They were no longer just friends. They were family.
One of these women has been one of my greatest teachers of what family looks like when you aren’t blood related. She saw through the baggy clothes and immature attitude and sometimes arrogance that seems to tag along with most (if not all) only children. I think she and I connected on a deeper level because we discovered that we shared a divine connection with our Creator around the same time.
In a sense, we fell in love with God together.
Over the years we took different paths. She became a wife and mother. I became a roommate before finally getting my first apartment. I attended her showers (both bridal and baby). She bought me my first set of really good cookware (shout out to Calphalon). She obtained her Masters in Theology and I flew to her graduation. I received my MBA, and she made the trip to Cleveland. Even though our lives were becoming drastically different, we still walked with each other through various turns of it. Surprisingly it seemed, we were learning the same life lessons at exactly the same time. In fact, we still are.
People told me that when she got married things would change. That I would have to take a backseat, and maybe in some ways I did, but in other ways, I felt like I was needed even more.
We have beared with each other through a lot. The ups and downs of life are unreal sometimes and there aren’t too many things that stay the same. Yet her being there has.
Regardless of the time apart, or the distance that has separated us, her love has never been separate from me.
My heart was full this week as she and her tribe made the two-day long drive to visit her fam, which included yours truly. At my request, all six of them stuffed themselves into my one bathroom (not even a half bath to offer relief), quaint two-bedroom bungalow (bless their souls). For the first time since I bought this home it was overflowing with life. Two babies, four adults, one pre-teen, and a 6-month-old kitten, filled it’s corners and caressed its edges. We took pictures and videos because we know how fleeting life is and the importance of capturing the moment (we have all experienced our own losses). But we lived in the moments too. I soaked up our one-on-one times while the babies were asleep, or blessfully, being watched by their stellar dad. I snuck in a mini “car-turnup” on our short trip to get our eyebrows done. She finally got to learn my step workouts and cracked me up at her dance moves (which are still on point by the way). We were in our own world even when said world consisted of motherhood and a new marriage partner.
Her visit meant so much to me because in a world with Covid-19, isolation is at its peak. Even for an introvert like me, loneliness is inevitable.
God has been so good to set the singles in families. I’ve given up on that notion that the good things in life should cancel out the negative ones. Instead, I feel that both the highlights and the hard parts can beautifully coexist. In other words, I’m of the mindset now that the good parts of life do not remove the hard parts. For a long time my frustration at not having “my own” family weighed on me like a 20lb dumbbell. Even still, it is an unmet desire that accompanies me on my day to day journey as a single. But what I will say is, part of my pain stemmed from the difficulty with believing that I had people who loved me like family. And now, I realize, my unbelief stemmed from a core belief that I could not possibly be so loved. I simply wasn’t deserving.
For years I wouldn’t allow this love to go too deeply within my heart due to fear of rejection/betrayal/abandonment/loss/etc… I wouldn’t, but that didn’t deter her. She pursued and waited, and loved me anyway.
Through my shortcomings.
Through my weaknesses and stubbornness.
And in the end I think that is all we can ask. To find people who will love us like that.
To find people who will love us like God.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love