We sit on her couch for hours, the three of us, looking at pictures in photo albums and telling the biggest stories of our lives. We sip coffee and dip some chips in home-made guacamole. She even bought Mountain Dew because…well, I am a party with a little Dew. As mothers of little children, we had rushed home after evening church, tucked little ones into bed, kissed husbands good night, and ventured out to one friend’s home, because women desperately need time to visit even if it means hanging out after 9:00 in the evening. (The therapeutic hours of true friendship are sometimes worth the sacrifice of sleepy eyes and much-needed morning coffee the following day. Amen?)
Visiting commences! Recalling old memories of our mishaps brings hours upon hours of laughter. We laugh to think about the way we handled this or that and we laugh because, in the end, that is sometimes the healthiest way to look at the quirky details of our pasts. There’s a trust with one another. I can tell you the things that are hardest to speak because you can share the hard words with me, as well. We talk about grace and the way God has cleaned the slates. Thankful that we can lay down the baggage, we laugh because we have new hope. Our hope is in Jesus.
She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. ~Proverbs 31:25
At some points in the night, sharing past hurts brings tears and blushed faces, but authenticity is the only way to live with one another. No one pretends to have it all together. No one flashes the shiny perfection of her pretention. No one even tries to deceive with masks or boasts at achievements. Nah, it isn’t needed. We know we’ve had glory days and we know awards have been won…yet, we trust each other with the details of our hearts that no one bothered to hang in a Hall of Fame. Real women know that friendship is for building one another up, encouraging each other to do the next right thing, and cheering each other on from the sidelines. It’s never been a competition, so we stop living as though life is a race to be won. We hold each other to a standard of grace.
We all need to be that friend: the one who sits beside you to fold the laundry during an afternoon chat, the one who picks up an extra coffee on the way (because coffee tastes better when brewed with a dose of friendship), the one who always speaks truth and helps to combat lies from the enemy. Friendship is more than shopping trips or glamorous “Girls’ Nights Out.” Friendship is more than sharing the same style or running with the same crowd. Praise the Lord that real friendship doesn’t need glamour, style, or a crowd. Real friendship only requires the honest sharing and mending of authentic hearts. At the heart of true friendship is the pure intention to walk alongside another and to lead her to the pursuit of the Creator’s heart. Yes. The best of friendships always shine a light illuminating the heart of Jesus.
“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”
Women need these friendships. We have been deceived by magazines and headlines, and we’ve fallen victim to the lies that we are not enough. A friend will walk beside you…maybe even on a treadmill, sure, but her heart will always seem to cheer, “I am here with you! I am for you!” We need these friendships because our society thinks that womanhood is a competition to be won. True friendship crosses the walls built by our society. You know the walls? Our society has built walls for us that label us. Yep. Those walls are called the working mother versus the homemaker, the nursing mother versus the bottle feeder, the single woman versus the married woman, the healthy eater versus the…less healthy eater, or the immaculate home versus the…less tidy home. Womanhood gets a little noisy and obnoxious. It can feel like a dizzy merry-go-round and you may just want to yell, “Stop!!!” A real friend puts her hand out, grabs the side, and says, “Jump off the merry-go-round, already. Your life is more than spinning in circles.” Friendship crosses the barriers built by our society and stops the spinning created by Mommy wars, career climbing, and feminism. Authentic friendship always says, “You don’t have to run in circles for me. You are not a hamster.”
Put down the brooms, the briefcases, the immaculate homes, and the accolades of your life. You’re good at something. Of course you’re good at something and your friend, she’s a pro at something different. We need to get over it, already. Let’s just offer our hearts, our tears, our laughter, our words of affirmation, and our prayers. Encouraging words will always trump spotless floors. (Hallelujah! As the momma of three little boys, spotless floors are much harder to maintain than encouraging, life-giving, edifying words. I can do words. Spotless floors? Call first.) Authentic friendship sees the eternal hearts. Everything else? You can’t take it with you. We have one thing forever: our souls. Love sees the souls above all else.
A friend loves at all times. ~Proverbs 17:17
I’m wrapped in a blanket looking at old photographs when someone picks up her cell phone. “3:30?! We have to get going! We’re going to be sooo tired in the morning when the kids wake up!” Truth. The next morning, we exchanged text messages, laughing about the way we lost track of time and about the couple of hours of sleep we were left with. We all agree. Tired eyes are a small price to pay for full hearts.
“Much needed! Thank you!!!” the text messages reply to each other, before one rushes to her workplace, one transports children to school, and one fills plastic bowls with morning oatmeal for the littles. Yes, this is truth and we’re all beginning our day, cups overflowing with one another’s life-giving words. Authentic friendship is and always will be just that: much needed.
May your life be a life that offers friendship full of encouragement and lives full of His grace.