If you had to choose a set of bridesmaids right now–whether you’re married or not, just go with me here–who would you choose? I think I’d have 7 people, and few of them know each other. Even though I don’t talk to them all the time, each person represents what I see as a chapter in my life, and they’re dear to me.
Looking back, I see that I didn’t understand friendship until I was in my 20’s, when I lived 12 hours from family and formed friendships that became like family. One of those friends, Molly, showed me through her life that it’s possible–and healthy–to maintain friendships with people from many time periods and chapters of life. She was and is a diligent pursuer of connection.
As strange as it sounds, I used to think that people were (oh I hate saying this) disposable. If a person hurt my feelings–Chop–they were cut off. If I wanted a change, I left people in my dust and switched to a new group. If I moved, contact with the old crowd was an afterthought. Like most good and bad habits, this came from my family.
My family loved quiet and solitude, and I didn’t grow up valuing community. For much of my life, I didn’t cherish my relationships or always offer grace when a friendship hit a hard spot. I wish I had been a better friend, and hope I’ve changed. Recently, I saw the value of community in a very sweet and hard way. I have an aunt who lived in New York City for almost 50 years. When she grew ill and was whisked away from the city, not one person called to check on her. Then when she visited my church with me, she actually accused me of setting her up in a trap of people talking to her. At once, it was the best picture of how my friends came around to meet her and love her because they love me, while also serving as a bleak picture of how very alone and jaded both my aunt and so many people in the world can grow in a life lived apart from love.
My 7 special people are people who have hurt me deeply and loved me greatly. They were worth forgiving and asking forgiveness of, and loving, and keeping. I can’t imagine my life without them, or without the dozens of other people who cheer for me, weep with me, laugh with me, and offer love in very individual ways. One of the greatest lessons of my life is to not treat friendship as a disposable commodity.
Do you have a friend you need to unearth from the past?
Do you have someone who needs to hear that you love him or her?