by Janis Gaines
I’m currently taking a memoir writing class taught by Sam Uhl of The Cheerful Word. Our homework this week is to write about friendship. I don’t really have one specific story to tell, so this is more of a collection of thoughts.
I have had many wonderful friends over the course of my life. I feel I have been truly blessed in this area. God has often brought just the right person at just the right time. Growing up in school, I was able to be in every peer group and yet part of none. I can be outgoing when needed, but I’m an introvert by nature. I was well liked, but not very popular.
In college, however, things shifted. I was much more the center of social groups than I had been in high school. I was an “it” girl — voted for this, nominated for that. I think this was because I felt freer and happier, in general. Later on, as an adult with the stresses of life, it was harder to make new friends. These days I find it hard to keep in touch with everyone as much as I would like to.
I’m very thankful for the age of the internet that has made it possible to keep in touch with so many. I remember when I first got on Facebook and reconnected with so many friends from the past. It was like a great reunion! We all had fun posting our pics and tagging each other. It’s great to have a supportive network at your fingertips whenever needed. I’ve often wondered how different my life would have been if I had that growing up.
I believe levels of friendships follow the temple model – the outer courts represent your acquaintances, the inner court would be considered good friends, and the holy place represents the inner circle — those two or three that you go to first who know you the most. Jesus had all these levels — Peter, James, and John were the inner circle, the twelve disciples would have been his closest friends, and then the masses who followed him.
In Girl Scouts we would sing the song, “Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other gold.” I really do treasure those friends who have known me for decades. I cherish those friends who have seen me go through the ups and the downs and still believe in me, those who know the whole story and still love me. Several are worthy of mention by name –
Donna – we met at a church in Nashville when we were both new moms with boys about the same age. Our pastor had the great insight to invite both of us with our husbands to dinner one night and we have been dear friends ever since. She hosted a baby shower for my third child, and kept the older two while she was being born. Though we have both moved several times over the years, we always keep in touch with a phone call every few months. If either of us is passing through the other’s town, we always make time for a visit. She is a great light and I’m thankful for her.
Carol – Even though we went to the same college, I did not know her until later. We became friends while I was living in Nashville and she lived about an hour away. We had been through a difficult life experience together — more than one actually — and that really bonded us together. When she went through her divorce, she came to live with me in GA. A few years later, we both made the move to Asheville. She gets me spiritually more than anyone else. I really cherish our history together.
Laura – Laura is my rock star friend — literally and figuratively. We met in Nashville. She would bring her young son to my Express Kids show at the local mall. She offered to do a website for me which turned out to be amazing. She was there when I went through a very difficult time in my life — divorce and rape. She was my “non-Christian” friend who would invite me and my three young kids over for dinner. She would check on me faithfully. I haven’t seen her in ten years, but she’s my first phone call when I need support.
Angie – interestingly, Angie and I met first in Honduras. I loved her sense of humor and great personality. It was because of her, and others like her, that I ultimately decided to transfer to Harding University in Arkansas, which truly changed my life forever. She and I traveled Europe together. We shared many life events together which I cherish.
Shannon – Shannon is my old high school friend from the same neighborhood. She and I grew up just three houses from each other. She really knows my story from the beginning and has seen my family dynamic first-hand, which makes her invaluable as a friend. She reminds me how far I’ve come and that I’m not crazy.
There are also some friendships that I’ve lost or lost touch with that make me sad.
Myca – a great friend in college. I was in her wedding. We had great fun and spiritual depth together. Now she is divorced with two kids and travels internationally. We have just grown apart over the years. I still have a great love for her and believe that it would be easy to pick up again where we left off if ever given the opportunity.
Tracy – another great friend from college. We had been English majors together and shared a lot of adventures and laughs. I was the Maid of Honor in her wedding. Soon after that, my life took an unexpected direction and I made some choices she didn’t approve of. We’ve reconnected on Facebook, but there’s no real friendship any more. She has been very successful, and my life, well, has been very painful. I believe she judges my life, and this makes me sad. I still think she is amazing.
Mark – an old flame; the one I always thought was “the one”. We have kept in touch over the years, but not with the same friendship that we used to enjoy. I’m thankful that there will always be a significant connection, but sad we couldn’t keep the closeness.
Joanna – an old church friend. We shared a lot of laughs and have lost touch over the years. I have not been able to find her on Facebook and always wonder how she is. I’m not sure we’d have the same connection, as my religious views have changed.
Julie – another great friend from college. She was a beautiful person, inside and out. We shared a lot of laughs and dreams. She married and moved away quickly, and I’ve often wondered if she is happy. I actually just found her on Facebook today! We will see if she responds to my friend request.
I heard someone say recently that people are with us for a reason, for a season, or for a lifetime. This gives me peace when people leave my life or distance separates us. I’m truly grateful for a life rich with just the right friendships.
February 19, 2015