Quiet Courage of Friendship

Friends. We all have ‘em. Some have a lot, some just a few. Some friends are so awesome at being friends that they make you wish you were like them. Some friends are crappy at the concept and drag you down. Friendship is complex.

“Well DUH!” You say.

I remember 4th grade, oh Lord help me. It was an awful year. My little group of friends changed members more often than Kim Kardashian changes clothes. We fought, made up, cast each other out, and made up again.

I’m not talking about this horrible cool-girl-clique type of complex. I’m talking about the complexity it takes to be open with someone else and accept who they are now and who they were even before you knew them. And I also mean the difficulty of knowing when you and your friend are walking two different paths that don’t mesh well anymore.

Image 1999

My very first friend (she’s up in that picture) from age 3 is still my friend today. Holy Moses, we fought like sisters sometimes! But we also talked, went deep with each others’ thoughts and feelings, opened up about hopes and dreams. I fell out of a tree at her birthday party and she skinned her nose on my swingset (my friend is very talented). Friendship was great! Then “Becoming a Grown-Up” happened. For a long stretch of years we rarely talked. When we did get a chance, we still opened up, but I felt like some of that depth was gone.

I’m not sure if she’d agree or feel the same way, but in a way I was scared to be my current self with her. She knew me so well as the young Noël, the angst-y middle school Noël, the driven high school Noël. Would she like the college Noël? Or the newly-married and starting a career Noël? Or the disillusioned with marriage and The Church Noël? Or the nearly-broken and wounded Noël? Although we had so much history, it was just that: history!

At the end of a lovely Skype with another friend from the past, she said something that made me stop and think. Sometimes it’s scary to be yourself, the you from this very moment, with someone who has preconceived ideas about who you are based on a past remembrance.

Putting aside fear opens us up to better ourselves. How do you know a friend is actually that unless you paint a true picture of yourself? And how can you possibly be a good friend to someone if they don’t know the real you? Being truthful and open takes courage! I never think of friendship and courage simultaneously, but there can be no other way.

So, to begin this week, take time to think about who you miss in your life. Reach out to that old friend, even if it is just a quick “thinking of you!”. And when they ask how you’ve been, be honest! Open up and go deep. Chances are they’ll appreciate it, reciprocate, and there you’ll find true friendship growing again.

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