Do you remember your very first friend? I’m not talking about your mom, sibling, or relative. I’m talking about the very first friend that chose you purely because they liked you. My first friend was Katie B. Divine intervention (and the public school system) placed us in the same Kindergarten class. There was no major distinguishing feature that made us an obvious duo, but we quickly realized we preferred playing with each other over our peers. And just like that, we were self-proclaimed “BFFs.”
My fondest elementary memories start with Katie and me: the two of us jumping on the trampoline, getting Olan Mills glamour shots, watching Saved by the Bell, and playing baby dolls in her attic room. Thirty years later, I still remember her childhood telephone number and how soft her German Shepherd felt. I’m certain at the end of my life, God will still be able to see Katie’s fingerprints on my heart. Our friendship was my first experience of belonging and inclusion. Being someone’s best friend — having security that there was at least one person that would save you a seat, share their snack with you, or pick you for their team — taught me quickly that life with friendships felt safer and happier and that perhaps we weren’t created to do life alone.
As the years passed, I collected more and more friends. I found making friends was easy as a talkative extrovert. The more people I could call “friend,” the more false security I had within myself that I was loved and accepted. But as I got older, life got busier and my circle started to get smaller.
When some friendships continued to slowly and organically fizzle out, this felt like a travesty.
I attributed it to having a career or a “real job.” Then came marriage, motherhood and the glorified busyness of adulthood, and I was left with fewer friendships than fingers. It’s sad and hard to grow up and apart, but I’ve learned this process is actually a gleaning. Life weeds out your seasonal friends (friends only meant for a certain season of life) and in the end, you’re left with your forever friends. These are your people, your ride-or-die, middle of the night, can’t do it without them tribe. These are the people you are going to call on the worst days of your life, with the worst news of your life, in the worst pain of your life. And these people won’t run from the raw, uncomfortable hurt you’re facing. Instead, they will sit in it with you. After this gleaning, if you’re left with even one friend that fits this description, you’re a lucky person.
I read a quote once that talked about having fewer, but deeper quality friendships as you get older. It said something like “I prefer four quarters over 100 pennies” and it really resonated with me. The girl that once couldn’t get her wedding invite list to fewer than 300 people, can now count her tribe on one hand. And as I count these women, one by one, I know I’m counting blessings.
Adulthood isn’t for the faint of heart.
Life, choices, and actions all become much more intense with heavier and often permanent consequences. It breaks my heart for anyone to navigate the middle and last parts of their life without deep, authentic, and loving friendships. I feel so blessed to call a few women my “besties.” I realized in my mid 20s that someone can only love me to the extent that they really know me. My deepest and most sincere friendships are with the women that I’ve been my most authentic self with, the ones I’ve let see behind the highlight reels. These ladies cheer me on when life is good, pray for me when it’s not, and never let my wins feel like their losses. And it’s my pleasure to do the same for them.