We have grown into women together. Marriage and motherhood came at the same time in life for both of us. This year we both celebrate 18th wedding anniversaries, and our children each growing ever older and more beautiful. We met as insecure 18 year olds on our first night at university. Somehow we became friends within a larger group, and 24 years on our friendship is stronger than ever. It has survived so much and witnessed so much. And all the time this ‘we’ has given me encouragement and strength and a longing to be more the woman of God that I have been made to be as I see my friend radiating the beauty of Jesus in her life.
She is beautiful. Inner and outer beauty. I’m not sure that she realises quite how beautiful she is. I love how she mothers. She was a mother before me and I have always watched how she does it. She’s gentle and creative and nurturing and such an encourager. She spots the seeds of growth and brings them to bloom. She rejoices in her children. She is hilarious and we laugh often. We share a love of books and cake, and we have the great joy currently of being able to meet for weekday lunches or coffees, squeezed into our working week, because we always make time for each other.
This past year has been a very painful one for our ‘we’. I turned to her before anyone else when I found myself in a place I didn’t want to be. She listened and talked and prayed. After she left me she wrote to me. The letter told me all that I already knew. She encouraged me, pleaded with me to make good choices. She knew my heart, the good and the bad.
My response was to find the small part in it which offended me. I distanced myself from her, and attributed thoughts and feelings to her which were not hers. Much stemmed from my own shame. I couldn’t bear that I had let her down.
Over the next months I let the ‘we’ go. I wasn’t well, but that wasn’t the only reason. I stepped back into the places she had begged me not to go, and I couldn’t bear to tell her. All the time I was conscious of how much I missed her and how much I needed her. It became another sadness in my situation.
I don’t remember now what precipitated the change but after exchanging a few very painful emails we met for dinner. It felt awkward. We have NEVER been awkward with each other before. Before the meal came she went to the Ladies’ cloakroom and returned having emptied the Toilet paper dispenser of tissue, as she anticipated that there would be a great deal of crying and we would need every last piece.
I think I cried through the whole meal. My heart broke when she told me that she had changed my name in her phone to “try not to”, as in try not to call her. She had done that to protect her heart from my rebuffs.
That was in December. We have worked through more difficult times since then. I’ve hurt her and I’m so sorry for that. Yet she has shown me grace. She has loved me. She has rejoiced with me. She has told me the truth. She has expressed the very difficult things that have been laid on her heart. She has called me to account for my actions and feelings, and has reminded me who I am and whose I am. She has never stopped loving me.
I am so grateful to have been placed alongside a woman who has gifted me with the most amazing friendship. I hope that our ‘we’ will remain, and that along with the great cloud of witnesses who cheer us on from the heavens, we will continue to spend our lives encouraging each other to fight the good fight and finish the race.
This post is a response to the prompt “We” from Marvia Davidson’s Real Talk Tuesday. Come over to read her post and the other link ups.