Twenty two years ago when I first became a Christian I found myself with nowhere to go at Christmas and a friend sent me to stay with a friend of theirs called Meg. Meg has four children and the whole family welcomed me without question and drew me into their Christmas with their extended family. We became good friends and when I married Meg sang (beautifully) at our wedding. As life got busier we didn’t see each other much but kept in touch with Christmas cards. Yesterday we finally got together after 17 years, and took up almost straight from where we left off.
About 8 years ago we had pet rats and I joined an online community for rat-lovers (It’s true, the internet has a community for everyone). I learned a lot about caring for rats and made friends with Scarletdemon, a fellow Brit in a mainly american community. We enjoyed a similar sense of humour and didn’t take ourselves or our rats too seriously. We’ve stayed in touch online through various blogs and this year she finally gave in and got into Facebook. After years of virtual friendship we arranged to meet IRL (in real life) so met up in a city between where we live. The friendship is the same as it is on-line. We had some laughs, we talked about our lives and commiserated with each other about some of the not so good stuff.
A couple of weeks ago I was at a conference, and over the last lunch I got talking to someone who I’d seen all week but hadn’t met before. We went from total strangers to sharing some very significant stuff over an extra portion of Banoffee Pie. We’re meeting up for coffee and more cake and I think we’ll be friends.
Then there are a couple of other women I’m becoming friends with who are, like me, in Baptist ministry, and we’ve shared the trials and joys this brings.
I never used to be very good at friendship; the mechanics of keeping up contact with someone seemed to elude me (sorry Meg) and I suspect I was too much into my own struggles to notice that other people might want or need friendship with me. But now I’ve made a decision to be more intentional about making and keeping good friends – it will take some effort on my part but it already feels worth it. One of my college teachers talked about seeking out what brings you life, and this may be part of that for me. Being with people who I care about and who care about me, people who share similar struggles and enjoy similar things is life giving, and that feels good.
And now I’m off to ring another friend I haven’t spoken to in a while.