I wasn’t sure I was parked in the right place, but I figured the noisy roll of luggage and the long goodbye hugs and hellos around me were an indication that I was close.
I kept my hazard lights on and watched the sliding doors to the airport in front of me for my best friend. It had been nearly a year since we had been able to see each other, and I was excited for her visit.
My husband and I had just moved to a new house in a new city and I was having trouble connecting to the women around me. In short, I was lonely.
I wasn’t in college anymore and making friends felt strained and impossible. We were in a city hours from our families and although, I loved my husband’s companionship, I longed for female friendship. My friend’s visit was perfect timing. I had, for the most part, finished decorating our new home and could no longer push off my loneliness by buying candles and towels for the house.
After I picked up my best friend from the airport, we spent two days drinking copious amounts of Dr Pepper and coffee, laughing in front of dressing room mirrors, lunching late in the afternoon, endlessly discussing jobs and futures and men, and then, just before she left to make her departing flight, we prayed together.
It was 4:30 a.m. and we were both sleepy from staying up talking the night before, but we thanked God for friendship and grace and laughter and fun.
We’ve long huddled together in prayer— for our accounting and Spanish tests, scholarship checks, moms and dads and siblings and roommates and even potential dates. We prayed when she left for New York City to pursue dance and performance and when I took my first job out of college in a city where I didn’t know anyone. We prayed when she lost her agent and when she landed a touring gig. We prayed on my wedding day and every other time we’ve had the chance to meet.
We met in my first week of college at a dorm mixer, which I had reluctantly attended. I was eating really bad barbeque in a room full of girls from the all-female dorm when she introduced herself as Amanda.
“Your name’s Amanda! My name’s Amanda, too!” I said.
It was the smallest detail in a great big scene of people and choices. She later invited me to a bible study and then one day made lunch plans with me. She prayed for me when I said I was thinking of quitting college. She lived with me for three years, encouraging me and pushing me. She drove me to campus at 7 a.m. once when I missed the bus and even once took me to the emergency room, and what’s amazing about all this is that God had a plan for this friendship.
He still does.
Maybe I want friendships because I just don’t want to feel the wrecked feeling of loneliness, and maybe I need to crave the very rare friendships that reveal grace and goodness.
I haven’t always had friendships like that. I’ve been reckless in my friendship. I’ve extended my hand to people who have clawed at my palm and others who have simply ignored it.
Amanda asks me how I’m doing and means it every time. She eyes me suspiciously when she knows I’m lying. She tells me to try avocado on my sandwich because though I’m stubborn, she knows I’ll really like it if I try it. Before I got married, she was the one who listened to me analyze and rationalize and debate every aspect of my now-husband, and at my wedding, she was one of the few women at my side.
I hope I’m that woman too one day. I hope I’m that friend.
After all, I’m permanently plagued with sarcasm. I’m not very trendy or cool and sometimes, I give the worst advice, and I wonder why in the world she picked me.
And then I remember, because grace did.
God’s grace sweetens friendship, and I’m so grateful for that. Friendships marked with grace are rare, and when they come into your life, they remind you of the goodness of Christ. They remind you that you’re not alone. They remind you that you are loved and cherished and blessed.
“But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.” (Ephesians 4:7)
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Texas with her husband. Previously, she worked for the Galveston County Daily News, the Houston Chronicle, the Abilene Reporter-News and the Lufkin Daily News. Currently, she is a team member for HeartSupport, a nonprofit community for young adults. Her website is at http://tx.ag/casanova and you can find her on Twitter @acasanova10.