I was floating along in the pool on a floatie. She was standing in the shallow end. We were lapping up the sun and enjoying our time together. She dropped her ponytail holder just after she had pulled it out to dip under and let the cool water run through her hair.
It sank to the bottom. Three feet down.
She went after it.
Now, at this point, you’d think any grown adult would be able to simply take a small nose dive under the water, retrieve the ponytail holder, pop back up and pick up where we were in the conversation.
That didn’t happen.
My darling friend of thirty-plus years had a bit of trouble. I laid on my mat watching in delight.
She dove under. Feet popped up. There was no small amount of splashing. She seemed to be gone for quite a bit of time. Her feet kept kicking up through the top of the water. She’s only three feet down. What is she doing down there?
She came back up for a bit of air, hair in face, eyes closed. And went back down.
Now at this point, I’m already hysterical. I have no idea how I stayed on my mat.
She goes back under, oblivious to the fact that I’m in fits over what I’m seeing. My eyes are glued to the saga I am seeing before me. Feet cut back through the top of the water, flailing around like she was on the verge of kicking to the bottom of the ocean. Feet then disappear simultaneously as her head comes back through the top. Ponytail in hand. Rejoice! Glory! We celebrate. Well, she sorta does. My eyes are popped out of my head as she says, “Had a little trouble getting that.”
The spasms of laughter ensued. Spasms! Gut-wrenching, swimmer’s cramp, grasping for breath, equal to sit-ups kind of laughter.
She is a friend. A dear friend of whom I am not afraid to laugh at straight to her face. And she would do no less for me.
Same friend. Years later.
“Nat, I don’t know how much longer my mom is going to live,” she said.
“Want me to come home?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Let’s wait and see. I can’t believe this might be…” her voice cracked, “the last time I talk to her.”
We cried together, wondering if I should make the twelve hour trip home for a “maybe”. I called another girlfriend and we talked and weighed my options. We whispered our concern and spoke in low tones about our dear friend.
We have laughed until our sides split, and cried over things until we thought our hearts could bear no more. We’ve hurt each other’s feelings and made each other feel like we could conquer the world. We have studied the Word of God together and cracked not-so-clean jokes. We spoken Truth to each other and held each other accountable. This is friendship.
Being a friend isn’t always about us. It’s not about who’s who and who knows who and who is on the Instagram with who (or is it whom? moving on).
It’s not waiting to see if you’re invited or tagged. It’s not waiting to see if they will text before you text them, or if they told you something they didn’t tell others so you will feel included.
Friendship is being the kind of person you want them to be to you.
You want friends who will prayer for you and with you? Then you pray for and with them.
You want friends who will check in on you and make sure you’re okay? Then you do the same for them. And if they don’t reciprocate, then maybe you need to find a different friend.
You want friends you can trust? Be trusting.
You want friends you can count on? Be someone they can count on.
You want friends who go after the things of God? Be someone who goes after the things of God.
You want friends who have your back? Have theirs.
You want them to care about the stuff in your life? Care about theirs.
You want them to babysit your kids? Babysit theirs.
This looks simple and sometimes it is. But friendship takes work. It takes being vulnerable and opening up. It takes going after it sometimes. One of the best ways to find strong friendships is to go through a Bible study together. Get some friends together and do a six week study. It’s amazing the new level you will have.
Wanna make it more amazing?
Be that friend you want so that you will have the friends you want. They will be your biggest cheerleader, your greatest source of comfort, and your best laughs. Our God designed us for community to display His glory to the world. Even Jesus said, “They will know you are my disciples by your love.” (paraphrase)
When we love one another, when we are friends through thick and thin, it speaks to His greatness. Don’t let insecurity, jealousy, and the “need” to be popular (yes, even 41 year olds can still deal with this) ruin your chances of being a great friend and having great friends.
They are worth the risk, the fight, the reaching out, the work, the joy, the pain.
Be the friend you want to have in your life, and you will be so enriched by who God places in your journey. These are the friends I have. I pray you have the same.