They don’t teach you how to be a friend in college. But they should. Hopefully, at some point, you do learn.
Probably it takes root in childhood and begins sprouting as we learn to care for each other.
It took me a while to learn and value friends. As a kid, I had trouble connecting for the usual selfish reasons. But I also felt unable to love everyone the way they needed. So I often didn’t try.
With the new independence in early adulthood a bit, I began to realize the importance of friends to everything I really wanted in life.
The writing life requires friends. No matter what happens, wherever you go or whatever you end up doing, the value of having people you can rely on is immeasurable, people who will go to bat for you, vouch for your skills and character, and believe in you even when you don’t believe in yourself.
Nothing but real friends makes life worth living. God knows we need real arms, real eyes to hold us. He designed us. He knows.
And for his called writers, he knows writing friends are more precious than diamonds.
They are the ones who will go through the fires with you. They know the ropes. The pitfalls. They know what you’re up against. They know what you’re doing is the hardest thing you could do. They get the whole self-doubt and feeling crazy thing. They know the daily struggle to commit despite the lack of talent, the headaches and all it takes out of you, how it makes you disconnected and weird. And they don’t judge you for all the oddities, the weight gain or the hair loss.
And they know you’ve got to have an imperfect confidant and advocate if you’re going to have one here at all. And that makes them just about perfect.
And they don’t care if you don’t call back because you’re in the middle of getting chapter 81 finally fleshed out after 2 months of cold pizza and not cleaning the house (and thank God for my wife, yet again!). And they don’t blame you for all you miss because you’re reliving pain to put it into pages carved out of real, bloody experience.
They know you just gotta do what you gotta do. They get all that.
They prove it’s true: he who has friends is truly rich.
But sometimes, we have to overcome the hurt that’s been done before we can engage. Writing is a way to discover some of those broken places. But books come from books and writing requires reading too.
Dr. Merry Lin wrote a book about her journey to healing and becoming a “professional friend” in her book, The Fully Lived Life It’s an incredible story and full of hard-won truth about learning to feel our true feelings, deal with those unacknowledged places, and finally heal through writing, prayer, experiencing God in everyday life and in the friends he places around us.
She shared her story, but it was mine as well.
Some of us are held back by old wounds inflicted by church people. To you, I’d encourage you to read Merry’s book which talks about spiritual abuse and its influence in scaring us off of investing in closer, lasting relationships.
Some of us started writing because expressing ourselves, our true thoughts and feelings wasn’t encouraged in our homes growing up. Writing is a way to heal that and begin opening up and trusting others with our stories. Julia Cameron’s famous guide The Artist’s Way is subtitled Recovering Your Creative Self because that’s what the journey involves. We have to return to who we were before, like the story of Peter Pan, to re-member ourselves as Ann has said.
I am who I am because of my friends and I wouldn’t trade this church for anything. But I had to learn and get past my barriers, my selfish goals and dreams, and see the reality of treasure all around me before I could pick it up and treasure it.
To Merry and Larry and Mary and Merrie. Ann and Jan and Hannah. John and Ron and Don and Lon. To Jim.To Jeanette. To Tara and Sarah. To Lissa. To Glenna. To Dave. To Bill. To Liz and Elizabeth. To Jamie. To Rebecca. To Jenelle and Nathan. To Tina and Todd and Linda and Lynda. To Cec. To Brandy and Cathy and Kathy and Cathee and Susan and Suzee and Sue and Soo and Siouxsie, wherever you are. To Binsey. To Alice. To Jeanne. To Erik. To Michelle. To Nicole. Randy and Kimberlee and Hilarey and Ginni and Miriam and Kristen. To Peter and Dolly and Doug and Shannon. To Siri and Tony. To Patton. To Rob and Steve. To Luci and Dani and Sherri and Opal and to Christian. To Tom. To Emily. To Tonia. To Rick. To Jess and Jessie and Jeff. To Clarissa. To Jackie. Erin, Aly, Sandra, Carmen, Monica, Tim, Leah, Gena, Charise, Stacey, Steven, Gina, Mike, Rachelle, Blake, Chip, Vicki, Sandra, Wayne, Thank you. Thank you.
My heart is yours, for loving what mine does, and loving what yours loves.
My soul longs with that same fire.
And we will make it. And we will find our way.
And we already have.