If you were to ask me about my Loveliest Things on any day of the week, my girlfriends would undoubtedly be on that list every time.
I have a heart-full of them, lifetime ones, new ones, forever ones. There’s something so indescribably wonderful about female friendships, this side-by-side, shoulder-to-shoulder kind of living we can do when we choose to live life together. There’s nothing in the world like it, nothing at all.
The thing I find myself forgetting about friendships, though, is how difficult they can be.
They aren’t always difficult, certainly. Much of the time they really are midnight phone-calls, and sleepovers, and weekends away. They’re this kind of soul-expanding love that helps you feel like you truly aren’t alone in the world, even when it sometimes feels that way.
But I forget, every so often, what it really takes to get you to this connected, we’re-in-this-together kind of living.
I just got off the phone with one of my soul-friends, one of the greatest gems in my life. We had had a miscommunication earlier in the week over text that left both of us frustrated and the conversation unresolved.
This doesn’t happen all the time, but it did that day—a conversation where both of us were a bit bruised by the other.
The heart of the issue was that we both needed things from each other, and that day, our needs clashed in midair. I needed a favor and she needed not to be needed for a while, both in the very same moment.
This is the tough thing about friendship. Sometimes we find ourselves in different places, needing each other for completely different reasons, and sometimes, this makes friendship really hard.
A family member dies the very same week that a friend gets married. A promotion is given on the same day a job is lost. We can be single and married both at the same time, pregnant and wrestling through infertility in the very same year.
There’s a piece of scripture that points to this perfectly, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and mourn with those who mourn.” But if you’ve ever been in two totally different places with your friends, you know this isn’t easy.
It’s not easy to be in your best friend’s wedding just a week after a big breakup. It’s not easy to mourn with a friend after you just got engaged. It’s not easy to think of what your best friend needs, when your eyes are focused on what’s going on in your life.
What my friend needed from me was my love, and my understanding, and my friendship, and my grace. And unfortunately, I didn’t do that well at first, focused on what I needed from her instead.
But this is what friendship requires of us. It requires us to get out of ourselves for a moment, to consider what they need instead of what’s at the top of our needs list.
It requires us to mourn with those who mourn, even when we’re celebrating, and to rejoice with those who rejoice, even when our heart is breaking.
We never do this perfectly. We give it a shot, and sometimes we mess it up. We bruise each other every once in a while, and have to have the hard conversations that move us from broken to better. We give a little, we take a little, we rejoice, and we mourn. And with a helping of honesty, and a heaping side of grace, we get to go through it all together.
Friendship is difficult. It’s not all sleepovers, and trips to the beach. But it is also those things, and those things are so much sweeter when we’ve fought for each other along the way—fighting to get to a place where we can give a little, and take a little, and then do it all over again in reverse.