Last Friday morning as I prepared to attend Juliet’s (Joyful Unique Ladies, Incredibly Eager To Socialize) porch party, my thoughts wandered past the group of friends I’d be meeting that day, to the many friendships I have accumulated over the years. Some came natural through association at school, church, small groups, etc., while others made their way into my heart without the least effort from me. No matter the circumstances surrounding their arrival, all have become valued treasures.
Living in the Washington, D.C. area, friends come and go on a regular basis. Though distance puts a strain on relationships, social media has paved a way to reconnect and stay in touch. Keeping up has never been so easy as I daily scroll through pictures and posts. The young carefree faces of my friends are now often wrinkled with time, sorrows and disappointments. In other pictures, I wonder how they could have aged so well. Their children, who were once friends with my children, are now married with children of their own. Sometimes the post comes as a request for prayer; more often, a reason to congratulate. Regardless of the content, it makes me long for an afternoon visit over a cup of tea.
One characteristic I noticed at the Juliet’s luncheon when we were asked to tell something about our mothers: The dear women who make up this particular group came from strong, overcoming mothers. Several lost their fathers when they were young, yet their mothers persevered to provide for their families. Many were praised for their hard work whether in a factory, an office, a department store or in the home. Their skills ranged from cooking and sewing to “a beautiful voice, especially when she yodeled.” I left the party feeling that I’d been given a glimpse into their hearts as my friends described (some with tears) memories of their mothers.
Though friendships evolve from acquaintances we meet along the way, I’m surprised at how often a casual meeting turns into something more. You invite a family over for a meal and the woman becomes a kindred spirit; you greet the couple behind you in church and your families become inseparable for a time; you’re invited to join a group and before you know it you feel like a member of the family.
Friendships for me grow deeper within groups where I’m forced to share my thoughts and feelings. It usually occurs in a small Bible study, prayer or support group., The more time you spend with the person, the deeper and more meaningful the relationship. Some of my dearest friends have been around for over fifty years, but the past ten years has added a wealth of additional close relationships.
After church on Sundays, we meet with a small group at Burger King. (Affectionately know as the BK Brunch Bunch). Understanding the differences, the women sit at separate tables from the men. Over coffee, the men discuss sports, vehicles, politics and activities, usually in that order. It’s an enjoyment to glimpse across the aisle and notice our men laughing, teasing and enjoying each other.
Conversations around the women’s table are rarely superficial. They range from the impact of the sermon to our personal needs and desires. We often share something we’re reading, an inspiration from a movie, tips to improve our health and plans for the upcoming week. We notice when someone is missing or with us, but quieter than usual. Unless, someone in our group decides to cook, we return to the same spot each week. Not for the food, but for the feeling of belonging we sense within this close-knit family.
When it comes to the gifts of friendship, I could easily describe my life as a revolving door, filled to capacity. Though some slip off for a season, they seem to return and grow stronger. A few have slipped off into eternity and I miss them along with their strong influence, but I know that this too is for a season. It doesn’t seem to matter that we came from a variety of backgrounds, worship preferences and cultures. We have the same goals: loving God, loving people and sharing our discoveries with others.
Throughout my life, I consider each friendship a valued treasure. Not one chance meeting has been insignificant. My dear friends challenge me to be a better person; they encourage me when I’m down and they support me through good times and bad. I am blessed and wealthy beyond description.