Monday, May 11, 2015

Real Friends: Rare Gifts

Some people just seem to have a gift for making friends.  And yet, you can’t make a friendship happen.  It just does.  Or it doesn’t. You can set up the opportunity for it to happen: you can go out for coffee, meet for lunch, go to a concert together.  But you can’t make a friendship happen.

When it does, and you realize that you have just clicked with someone, there’s that wonderful feeling of delight and wanting to know more.  So you pursue that, but the friendship has already been given.

Some friends are seasonal.  They are strong for a certain time of your life, and then they are gone. They have been friends, truly, of a sort. But real friends stick. For the long haul.

And yes, I am grateful to say, I have real friends, and to them, I am one. Here’s some of what I’ve learned about real friends:

Real friends know you’re not perfect, and extend grace to you when that becomes all too obvious.  When you fail them, they forgive you.  When you disappoint them and yourself, they stand by you. And you do the same for them.

Real friends never stop believing the best about you.  They always give you the benefit of the doubt. They cheer you on to pursue your goals, and encourage you when you fall short. They will also tell you the painful truth when you need to hear it. They give you advice for your own good, but don’t get mad when you don’t take it.

When life’s storms hit, suddenly they are there by your side.

Real friends are safe. You can be yourself. They really listen, and can keep a confidence.

You may not have seen them for years, but when you get together, it’s like yesterday. The words come easily and fast.  Laughter and tears flow freely.  The hands on the clock fly without notice.

Real friends just enjoy each other. Being in each other’s company is a pleasure, and is nourishing, not depleting.  There is a genuine appreciation, even though there may be differences of opinion and conviction.

But there is usually some deep connection about which you and your real friends agree, a shared interest or sport or vocation or identity.  My closest friends share my faith in Jesus Christ. Despite all our differences, that is at the core of who we are.

Some of my real friends and I have lunch every Monday.  Yes, that’s right—every Monday.  For 15 years, so far, although we’ve been friends longer than that. Among us six women we have seen each other through deaths of a husband, a child, parents, and friends.  We have been there for each other when we or our husbands have lost jobs, gone to graduate school, been through surgery, or retired. We take trips together to the beach where we talk, eat, shop, laugh, eat, walk, play games, laugh, eat, and do our Bible studies. We throw bridal and baby showers for each other’s children and dance at their weddings. We celebrate each other’s achievements, and give hilarious cards at birthday lunches that nearly have us thrown out of restaurants.

We belong to different political parties and Protestant denominations. There is an 18-year age range. Our personalities are vastly different. But we can tell each other anything, and we do. We earnestly pray for each other. There is godly wisdom in the group, crazy humor and straightforward truth (“Mary Beth, don’t EVER wear those jeans again!”).  I just love them.

How would you describe your real friends?

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