The Things You Can't See
Updated: Jan 21, 2021
"The only way to have a friend is to be one." Ralph Waldo Emmerson
If I could ever be considered a good friend, it would only because I have them in my life. Being a friend isn't something that comes naturally like breathing. It takes thought and practice - not just to be a friend, but to keep friendship alive.
In my teen years, we moved overseas. I found myself in a place with a new culture and language. Making friends with others my age seemed impossible when my vocabulary was equivalent to a five year old. I spent a lot of time anticipating the future when I would go back to my own country. That day finally came, but I stepped into the realization that I didn't fit in at home either. I was as awkward as a giddy laugh at a funeral.
For many years I prayed for a friend to do life with in the real. Just when I believed He had answered that plea for a "forever" sister-friend, the friendship was snuffed out like a lone flame in a biting winter wind. I remember feeling a deep sense of loss during that time and thinking the best way to move on from the pain would be to step forward alone. It was safe option, but I also knew it was the wrong one. We weren't created to do life alone and I wasn't the exception to God's design.
Then I found myself in new a place again where the only thing that felt familiar was being a stranger in the crowd. Instead of striving for invisibility, God gave me the conviction and courage to reach a hand towards others. The amazing discovery was that they reached back. It was "the beginning of [many] beautiful friendships" (Casablanca quote).
Friendship is made of the things you can't see. It's the choice to make a way through the demands of time, life seasons, and distance. It's freedom from perfection because the mess is mutual. It's the tear others would find uncomfortable to witness and the laugh no one else would understand. It's encouragement seeped in Truth. It's a challenge that isn't want you want to hear, but need the most. It's presence in places words can't go. It's the phone call in the middle of the night and the silhouette of the one who will be on the frontline of your bloodiest battles. It's the prayer you can't pray for yourself. It's the sacrifice made because you are worth the price. A true friend makes you more like Jesus because they live His example to you.
It's said that the best things in life don't come easily and, at least for me, that has proven true of friendship. What I couldn't see in years past was the groundwork being laid for those that were to come - friends who shape me.
I can't say I do friendship perfectly. I'm learning to be a better friend today than yesterday because of those who continually show me how to be one.
To my friends reading this - thank you. I love you and love better because of you.