Monday, October 12, 2009

Seasons of Friendship

Season – a time characterized by a particular circumstance or feature. A suitable or natural time or occasion.

These are the first two definitions of “season” from Merriam-Webster. I’m not 100% used to seasons in my life. It’s probably because they’re pretty uncommon, especially if we’re talking about nature. I mean, we go from 98 degrees to 40 in a blink of an eye. Things don’t really change color down here either. Everything is green from about February to November. Then there’s the small period when everything is sorta brown.

Bizarre, I know, but it’s Florida.

Recently, I have been thinking about seasons in a different way. In the “relationships” way. I was thinking about my closest circle of friends and how they’ve changed since around high school. I had a very defined circle of friends in high school and I can remember moving away to college and wondering if they would stay constant. Well, they didn’t. I don’t mean that in a bad way, but we all (or most of us) grew apart as we developed and cultivated new friendships. There is a small, and I mean very small, number of high school friends with whom I still communicate. Most of the conversation is surface and very high level and it doesn’t happen frequently at all. I will get the occasional message on facebook or a random email letting me know of a significant life event and that’s about it. It’s funny really, I don’t even “know” most of my high school friends’ spouses.

And that’s ok.

Then I started to think about college and how those friendships became some of the most important in my life. Once again, I had a very defined group of friends in college. Maybe I should say I had groups of friends that didn’t necessarily intermingle. So many wonderful memories were made with these college friends, but once again, most of these relationships have now dissolved.

Notice I said “most.” Not “all.”

Granted, I did marry my best friend from college!! She and I have maintained contact with a combined total of about six of our former college friends. Most of them were at our wedding. Strangely enough, included in those six are college relationships that were recultivated after college.

During college, I also made relationships with people who weren’t necessarily in college at the time. These were people from my work, church or apartment complex. And NOW we’re talking about serious relationships. These are the people I talk to on a very regular basis – still today. These are the people with whom I’ve experienced most major life events: births of children, marriages, moves, etc. These are the people, along with a handful of “college” friends, I consider to be my closest and best friends. They’re unchanging, steadfast and loving. We’re like family. I can go two weeks without speaking to them and then talk to them the next day and I’ve immediately brought them up to speed and it’s like we haven’t missed a beat.

I used to think these relationships would pass just like all the others, but thankfully, that’s not the case. They’re still around, and though our lives are so different than what they were five, eight or even ten years ago, they are my closest friends today.

So, what makes a friendship stick? Why have these relationships lasted the test of time unlike so many others? Is it because you share so many similarities with them? Is it a spiritual connection? I don’t really understand it. This group has stayed pretty consistent throughout my life and I always wondered if anyone else would “enter” this group. And while no one really ever did, I’m happy to say that there have been those who have come into our lives that I just couldn’t imagine my life without.

It’s hard to think about losing friends. I certainly don’t like to think about it at all, but it’s all part of the seasons of our lives. Just because I’m no longer as close to some of the friends I had in college doesn’t mean that their relationship wasn’t important during that season in my life.

You know what I mean?

I’m so, so, so thankful to have the friends I have. The ones who live all over the country. The ones I’ve stayed connected to through thick and thin. The one’s with which I’ve experienced defining moments in my spiritual life. I’ve seen them in the hospital with their newborn. I’ve prayed constantly for the adoption of their new son. I know when they’re sad. I know when they’re happy. I know what matters to them and what doesn’t. I know which holidays make them sad. I can hear their voice in my head answering questions I ask to other people. I can say just about anything to them, even if I know it’s going to hurt. We laugh so hard at the most ridiculous things.

Nothing can ever take the place of a spouse or family and the relationships you have with each – Lord knows I love my wife, daughter and family more than life. But friends are special and there’s a very specific part of your heart they fill.

Be thankful for your friends today.

I know I am.