Life is Better Together
The Perfect Fitting Kind of Friends
I love how kids can decide in a matter of minutes who is going to be a new best friend. Watch them at the beach: they see someone with the same bathing suit, walk up, introduce themselves, plop down on their new friend’s towel and spend the rest of the day inseparable…playing in the sand or water, searching for feathers, rocks and shells, declaring absolute adoration for whatever the other one likes.
Even though this friendship has just been forged, suddenly they will declare that they are BEST FRIENDS!
Never in a million years could I walk up to a complete stranger, plop myself down on their beach towel and ask them to be my friend…let alone express my adoration for them.
First I’d need to evaluate if we are at the same stage of life…
- Is she married, dating, single?
- Kids/no kids?
- Where does she stand with regard to politics?
- Does she go to church?
- And what about the whole working vs. staying at home or nanny thing?
I behave as though it’s an audition or job interview where one needs to “apply” to become friends. Children don’t evaluate any of that; they just continue to lean into their new found friends with an “I want to know everything you can tell me” attitude. They simply find the differences and the similarities of their new friends beautiful. When I watch them play, they almost seem to search for a way to find similarities…you have brown hair and I have red – but LOOK, we both have green eyes!! Yay for green eyes!
What I admire most about how easy it is for children to become friends is the same thing I fear most. The total ability to be completely and utterly transparent and open in their adoration of their friend without judgment.
There is something to be said about the ease in which children can be open and honest with each other that we can’t always do as adults. If we wait for “perfect fitting friends” we may just keep waiting. If we are willing to be friends with the heart and curiosity of a child, meaningful relationships may look differently.
Remarkably, I have a few of these kinds of friends. Although, we may not appear to be a perfect fit, I treasure each of these friendships and how our differences outweigh our similarities. One of my closest friends is a triathlete; I, on the other hand, have a gym membership, but can’t remember the last time I went. Another recently confessed that she’s dying to get a tattoo…I’d be afraid it wouldn’t match my clothes!
Another loves to have quiet weekends by herself to think, pray and write…I’d go insane. One, her depth and wisdom inspires me, yet she is more than a decade younger than me and her children are just beginning school…mine are in college and married. Still another shares a love of cooking and follows recipes like an accountant balancing books, where I just toss in whatever is in the fridge.
And then I have a best friend that I suppose on many levels “looks” very similar…we are both married to doctors, we both teach Bible studies and speak at women’s events, we’re even both blonde! However, she has had breast cancer, open heart surgery and had a hip replacement all before she was out of her 40s. I’ve never even had a filling.
How then can we relate to each other?
In each one of these precious relationships we have risked being vulnerable.
We don’t just share information with each other…we share our lives. Because life is better together.
We feel each other’s fear and sadness, joy, confusion and anger, because we pray for each other. I know I could call or text any of them and say, “I need a best friend today to pray for me…could it be you?” And it would be.
While children’s innocence inspires me and reminds me that it doesn’t always have to be complicated, it does take time to be intentional and vulnerable.
Time with each of these women and their friendships has grown me…we have cried through breakups and miscarriages. Cheered through triumphs, graduations and marriages. We haven’t always been at each life event or even known every detail of what’s going on in each other’s lives; yet we’ve grown through praying for each other.
Our bathing suit choices may vary, but the faith I have knowing I am being covered in prayer by my best friends, results in a trust and a transparency between us.
On each of their beach towels I would plop…and to complete strangers I would declare with absolute adoration,
“These are my best friends!”
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up”. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Please join the conversation and share your thoughts!
— Laurie Sheffield
This post originally appeared in September 2, 2015: Let’s Be Best Friends…Our Bathing Suits Match!
If you enjoyed this post, you might consider checking out the book “When You Find Another: A Conversation About Friendship…Among Friends” by Kay Harms