Friends are hard.
That’s it. That’s the end of the post.
Just kidding of course! In all seriousness, friends want a lot of time, physical exertion, meals, listening to stories, and just effort. If I didn’t already love coffee, I would gripe about how overly caffeinated I am just from coffee dates with everyone. Friends expect a LOT out of you. I not so secretly love it.
I enjoy being the friend that people turn to in times of need. I enjoy the “are you up?”, “are you busy?”, “can we grab coffee soon?” texts that ring through my phone. I enjoy driving through beautiful neighborhoods as we talk about the messier parts of life. I enjoy just being there, in the still, in the quiet, when there are no words, only tears. This past year has brought a lot of tears.
Life is hard.
Life takes a turn for the bitter, the sorrowful, and the disgustingly ugly. Life hits hard. It hits hard when you’re in the middle of a forest, crying uncontrollably because you have just heard the worst possible news you had never thought you would hear. It hits hard when you say your last words to a dearly loved one and try to squeeze in extra time. It hits hard when you hear the pain of a friend who can no longer imagine ever using a tampon again. Life really sucks sometimes.
For this, God has blessed us with community. Community isn’t just late night trips for sketchy Tex-Mex or diners with health code violations. Community isn’t just worship jam sessions in someone’s apartment until the neighbors ring the door that we were two-stepping too loudly. Community does have that, but the lows of life make us appreciate the highs with more gusto. We sing together, off-key and professionally trained, because our hearts are in sync. We know why it is we can praise the name of Jesus and believe Him to be good because we were there with each other when life wasn’t so good. We’ve seen it. We have trod the terrible valley together, and the mountain top has never looked more beautiful. Community helps me reach those mountain tops. When I am in the valley of life, when I don’t know how to continue on, when I can’t find the words to pray, someone has already prayed for me. In an instant, they are sitting there, holding my hand, rubbing my back, shedding their tears because their heart breaks when mine does.
I love being apart of community. I love being the person people call when they need community. I love having a community I can call when I need them. It is beautiful to trust someone to hold your hand through the pain. It’s a beautiful privilege to honor the dignity in someone and make them feel like they matter. It’s a lot of effort, and it’s not easy. Sometimes, there’s an school exam six hours away, or there is a meeting in the morning, or there is an important presentation the next day. Whatever it is, your friend needs you to just be there for however long it takes. No time limits. No places to go. Just there with them. Friends are really hard. Friends are worth it.
So far, this may sound like I have this friendship thing down, that I know what I’m doing, or that I always get friendship right. HA! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!! I have close to no clue what I’m doing. I’m just trying to love people right, and I CAN ASSURE YOU, that does not always happen. I am horrible at texting people back. I don’t always make it to performances, shows, awards ceremonies, or even say happy birthday because I’m just really bad at that. And because I am pretty awful at being a friend, I love when people ask me to be one. I love having another chance to maybe, in some kind of way, redeem myself. I find a bit of affirmation in it. I shouldn’t, but I do. And that is just another thing I am going to have to work on.
I love my friends. I love that they continuously grant me grace upon grace as I try to pour just as much love into their lives as they have so richly poured into mine. I love that they extend grace when I ignore the group text for a few days, don’t go to their shows, don’t text back, or forget to say a happy birthday. (Facebook tells me, so I really have no excuse here). I love that we have silently committed to love each other more than ourselves and put each other first. We don’t have to say it; we show it. It’s in the way with disagree but still respect each other’s own individuality and honor each other as we disagree. We make sure that we prioritize our relationship rather than being right. It’s in the way we can count on each other for a hug, a word of encouragement, a celebration when something great happens, or encouragement when we are embarking on something new. It’s in the way we expect each other to go to concerts or foodie places even if everyone else is only moderately interested. It’s in the way we can sit in the backseat of the car crying, and without saying anything, the other person cries too. I love my community. We don’t always get it right. We yell and scream at each other, and we throw fits. But we always come back together. We are intertwined.
This is the beauty of community. Friends are hard. Life is hard. God has blessed us with community. We don’t have to go it alone. There are sister and brother hearts right alongside us in the valley and on the mountain every time.
I am grateful for your friendship.
Love & hugs,
PC: Pablo Henning