The Gift of Friendship

Do you remember the age when you’d get home from school, after being with your friends the entire day, and call them to talk on the phone?  The scene is different today with social media availability and texting options, but connecting with friends is still very important to young people.  And to old.  Friendship is a relationship that spans most of our lifetime, all across the ages.

I remember my first school friend.  I was about four years old.  It’s funny I can’t remember what she looked like.  Only that she had long dark hair.  But I remember how much fun I had at Undercroft Montossori with Ashley Parker.  I don’t believe I ever referred to her by first name only.  When I spoke of my school friend it was always, Ashley Parker.  Something about her name must have been fascinating to me at that age.  (Or I was merely attempting to be grown up by sharing the fact that I knew her whole name!)  Then there was my friend, Cheryl whose house I had my first sleepover.  Our parents were friends, thus me being allowed to stay all night at a very young age.  She was a bit older than me and I felt so big in the time we spent together.

Those are my earliest memories of friendship.  And in my reflections, I realize how richly blessed my life has been with the gift of friendship.  I am reminded of that this time of year receiving cards, letters and attending gatherings with people I am so grateful to call “friend.”  Considering that this time in my life doesn’t allow for many opportunities to hang out with friends, the times we do spend together are truly cherished.

One friendship that has proven the test of time, and lack of time spent together, is the one I have with my best friend Amber.  We met, nearly twenty years ago in the eighth grade.  No doubt our friendship was established out of the mere convenience of going to school and church together; regardless, we had a connection.  And all I can really say is the old adage, “opposites attract.”

Amber and I were quite the opposite.  She was incredibly athletic.  I was not, in the least.  I loved to be up in front of people, singing or speaking.  She was quiet and more comfortable in the audience.  She was eager to experience the different facets of life.  I was happy to live within the lines.

We were always somewhat different.  But we had a bond.  And throughout the many different chapters of our lives, we have sustained that special bond.  It’s not a matter of convenience.  It’s not a matter of special interests.  It’s a matter of experience.  We have experienced life together and despite the changes, one thing remains, our friendship.

I haven’t seen my best friend in nine months, but I know when I do, we’ll soak up and enjoy every moment we have, because those moments aren’t available like they use to be.  Long gone are the days of chatting on the phone whenever we wanted.  Now we play phone tag and try to catch each other for chats during commutes in the car.  We give thanks for the memories we have and for the time we aim to get now. Amber says we should go on cruises together when we’re old and retired, and I bet we will because one thing is certain….we’ll still be friends.

Friendship may look a little different in this season of life, relishing the time with our children, running errands, balancing schedules, managing our homes and commitments to our careers.  But it is the security found in Proverbs 17:17 that makes us realize what a gift we have in our friends.

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (NIV)

May your life continue to be enriched with the wonderful love of a friend.

amber_heather_1998

Amber and me in 1998 after a school talent show

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An honor to stand by my friend’s side at her wedding in 2009 just as she stood by mine in 1999.

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