Ode to Friendship (24/31)

“…the closer you get to someone, the more that friendship gives you and the more force and power it has to make your life bigger and richer.”
–Shauna Niequist Cold Tangerines p52

A week ago today I had the privilege of having breakfast with my dear friend Erin. We went to one of our favorite breakfast spots for pastries, scrambles, coffees and conversation. It had been so long since we had hung out, just u- that I felt like we could have kept talking for hours. There was not a single moment of silence in the entire hour we were there.

Two years ago, I didn’t even really know Erin. Her and her husband, Wayde, had hosted a small group I was a part of, but we hadn’t really hung out outside of the larger group. We had begun to connect over blogging and started emailing each other occasionally. I found the information about the Influence Conference and sent it to her with a ‘hey this would be sort of cool’ note.  That Sunday at church she came up to me and I could tell she was pretty animated. She said, ‘I really feel like I need to go to this conference, want to go with me? I found us a room with some other people and I don’t mind driving.’

So I said yes.
Through those 8 hour car rides to and from, we managed to share our entire life stories, goals, hopes and dreams. Our friendship was sealed. I learned that Erin loves fashion and mod culture, feels more deeply than most people I know and has a heart of gold.

It’s funny how friendships are born. If it wasn’t for church and her apartment being close to where I lived and us both writing blogs and the Influence Conference, would we have met otherwise? So many things about us are different, but yet so many the same. We can go weeks without talking and pick up right where we left off. She can tell me exactly what she’s thinking- even if she knows it’s going to be hard for me to hear. And I know, whether I need it or not, she is always rooting for me and always praying for me.

I am super blessed to have those kinds of friends in my life. I’m surprised DAILY by how much love my girlfriends have for each other. I love the little morning group we’ve been forming and I envision monthly dinners and weekly coffee dates well into the future. I picture us, older and wiser, sipping tea on someone’s porch, laughing and telling stories about when we were in our 30’s and still learning so much about life.
When I was younger, I only had one or two best friends. I thought that maybe it was just too much work and too hard to have that many close friends. I kept my circle close and didn’t share a lot with others. I spent time only with a select few people and honestly, was pretty clique-y. I thought maybe there just wasn’t room in my life for that many people.

I think my heart has expanded.

I’ve found little niches and rooms and whole sections that I didn’t know existed.
I am able to love people more than I ever imagined. Humans are crazy and unique and beautiful. It’s an amazing thing to know so many people, to be able to recognize and appreciate the differences and similarities in each of us.

In an ode to friendship and in no particular order, I want these people to know what an impact they have in my life and why I appreciate them.

Erin, for your spiritual and loving heart and for reminding me that when it comes to big decisions, I need to remember the important things- like Jesus.
Mandy, for your no nonsense, ‘I’m going to be direct and honest’ advice. You are the essential ‘me’ when I need it most. Also- let’s always keep it turned UP. J
Emily, for your eloquent, poignant and timely word. And we can talk food and community and feminism for HOURS. It’s the best!
Kelsey, your quiet strength and the relentless drive to achieve your dreams is beyond admirable. Thank you for showing me that I can chase my dreams too.
Alicia, for your fashion sense, grace and sarcastic humor. Your craft skills are beyond amazing.
Dr. Kelly, your unwavering strength in Christ is an inspiration. I’ve enjoyed our summer of running together.
Miranda, I’m in awe of your dedication to the kids at church. I can’t wait to see you become a mom someday.
Deena M, for your thoughtful and caring heart. I’m so glad we are getting to know each other.
Nicole H, my partner in crime – no matter where life takes us let’s always be this close. <3
Kelly, we’ve been friends for over 20 years (whoa!) and you have always been a rock for me, an example of Christ in my life- thank you.
Jane, I love talking books and pop culture and life with you. We lost connection for a few years and then picked right back up. My trip to visit you in San Fran was a turning point for me and I’ll forever be grateful to you for the invite.
Deena T, you have a heart of service and an empathy that is commendable. Mexico is far, but you are always close to my heart. We clicked from day 1 and I can’t wait to run again soon!
Holly, girl- we’ve seen it all together and I’m excited for this next phase in your life. Thankful for crazy extroverts (Sandy) which made our friendship possible.
Jenny F, you have a beautiful soul and I love that we can sip coffee and talk psychology. Thanks for always giving me the point of view I’m lacking.
Rachel- Blue October, sushi and happy hour. Need I say more? Who knew we’d meet at a wine tasting and still be hanging out 3 years later… love it. J
Maryl, I always tell people I picked you up at a bar- ha! You are a great friend and an awesome mom and I’m happy to know you.
Michelle, Katrisha, Chelle, Jamie, Amy, Liz and Jamilee- My Run Girls- we can talk running, relationships, food and life. I know that you girls are always there if I need you and I love that you make me get out of bed every Saturday morning for runs around town full of laughs. Love you guys.
To Courtney and Christina, Sunday socials & Friday Chai Days make my world go round. Let’s always do that.
Mackenzie, I’m so glad to call you family and a friend. Your love for adventure and fearless pursuit of life inspires me daily.
To my sisters- Amy and Samantha- we don’t always chat every day and sometimes life gets in the way, but the love I have for both of you never changes. It’s been amazing to watch you both change as you’ve become moms. Thanks for being there for me even when I was a jerk. And thanks for letting me spoil your kids. J
To my Influence Ladies (so many to list!)- I love that the internet brought us together. And that even if we only see each other once a year, our friendship remains.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, I could go on and on. I’m SO GRATEFUL for all the women I’ve met in real life and online.

True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give up something in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us. Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk. If we can control it and manage it and manufacture it, that’s something else, but if it’s really love, really friendship, it’s a little scary around the edge.

Shauna Niequist Cold Tangerines