When Friends Are Friends ForeverSep 27, 2016
Do you have a 2am friend? Do you have someone you can call in the wee hours of the morning when life is tragic or when life deserves celebrating? I have three.
Little did I know that 28 years ago on the campus of Northwestern College (now the University of Northwestern - St Paul) I would meet these kinds of friends. The connection wasn't instant, however.
With any of them.
In fact, it took an act of God for me to build that first friendship. Angel was my polar opposite in many respects. The kind of girly girl I generally disliked (if I'm totally honest). Adding to the tension (for me) was the fact we were fighting for the same starting setter position on the volleyball team. She won.
But God demonstrated his great sense of humor when I was assigned to be her secret sister. I had to do nice things for her before our matches and encourage her during the week.
Really? I was hoping for just about anyone else.
Through this necessary act of kindness, the walls came down and we became the closest of friends (I still remind her that I am taller... she just wears boots to make it look otherwise).
6 years later I was the matron of honor in her wedding.
Similarly, Karen was an "opposite." As volleyball season ended and softball season began, I was introduced to her as a fellow teammate in the hall outside the dining center. Instantly struck by her high energy vibe, I wasn't sure we'd be a friendship fit. My more reserved nature was a bit overwhelmed.
But, as the season began, once again opposing personalities won and we became nearly inseparable (I "forgave" her long ago for breaking my finger during pre-game warmups, though I'm 99% it's now re-broken). As our friendship grew, so did her friendship with Angel... the byproduct of our friendship.
We, too, stood for each other as we said "I do" to our spouses.
Sharif joined us a bit later after transferring to Northwestern for her sophomore year. This tall middle hitter made an instant impression on me. During this "red shirt" season for her (forced to sit the year out), our road trip conversations grew deeper and deeper.
For the two final years of our volleyball careers, we rotated in and out for one another (I'll let you guess who played front row and who played back row...). We were perfect complements, even dressing as the Green Giant and Sprout for one Halloween practice (ironically, the same day I got engaged).
And then there were four.
Over the past 28 years, others have been welcomed in to our circle as well. These other friends have been valued and treasured and we are better women because of them, too. Somehow, though, this foursome has remained above all.
Together we have lived life together, though all it's highs and lows.
- We've attended weddings. And funerals.
- We've laughed. And cried.
- We've said hello. And goodbye.
- We've shared our successes. And failures.
- We've raised 13 children. And 4 husbands.
Thousands of miles have separated us at times. We've spanned the globe, literally, from Switzerland to Massachusetts to Iowa. And back to Minnesota.
We've actually gotten that 2am phone call that's woken us from sleep and stirred our hearts to prayer, mourning, and rejoicing. And we've had emergency "diet coke dates" (don't judge...) to walk with each other through difficult times.
But one thing has remained.
A popular song during our high school and college years relayed this truth:
"Friends are friends forever. If the Lord's the Lord of them." - Michael W. Smith
Though we may laugh at the "kumbaya" nature of this song and envision moments with friends holding hands and swaying together, lighter held high (pre-cell phones), the sentiment is true.
The common denominator in all of this?
God. Our Lord.
He alone had the ability to take four unique people, with different personalities, quirks, and imperfections and made us perfectly fit for each other. The most important thing we had in common was the most important thing. Our common bond.
Without Him, I am absolutely certain our friendship would not remain today. Yes, we had some common interests in volleyball and softball, and I'm grateful for their part in connecting us at all.
But without our mutual love for Him and His guidance in each of our lives collectively and individually, the bond would have weakened long ago.
Years later, we can pick up with each other, as we did last night, as though time stood still. We are the ones closing down the restaraunt as we try to get in one last question or share one last piece of our life with each other.
Some of our own kids are now in college. Two of them are at the same school that brought the four of us together.
We're reminded of the years that have passed, yet have felt like the blink of an eye. We wish the same friendships for our sons and daughters that we found in each other those many, many years ago. And we're convinced they'll find them, too.
No matter where we are, no matter how many people share the same space as us, those moments are holy.
We don't need a chuch building. Or a place of quiet.
We just need each other.
"For where two or three [or four] gather in my name, there am I with them." - Matthew 18:20
Friends are friends forever when the Lord's the Lord of them.
Even the most unlikely of matches.