Loved in Spite of Myself
I’m not what you’d call a social butterfly. Not a shrinking violet, but definitely someone who appreciates times of solitude. I’m perfectly content to never have been described as the life of the party. I’ve always been one to gravitate towards a few very close friends. The ones I can be myself with, not holding back to appease, but simply be me. The ones who appreciate the reality that each of us has been created with unique gifts and talents. Maybe it’s our shared faith that causes them to appreciate that we each have personalities crafted for a specific place in time and paths to walk on this hike through life. Not only do they appreciate me for me, but they’re not afraid to be honest about who I am, where I’ve been, where I’m going, and when I need to change direction. And they’re not afraid to be themselves – honest about who they are and who they hope to be.
My childhood friend was like a sister to me. The last time I saw her, she told me she’d been thinking about the day we met. I’m ashamed to say, I’d forgotten. I was five and she was four. She’d just moved into a house down my street and had walked down to find someone to play with. I picked a flower from my mom’s garden and gave it to her. I don’t remember what kind of flower it was, but it was the beginning of our friendship. One that’s lasted till today. She no longer lives down my street, but many states away. We’re both married with kids. The few chances I’ve gotten to see or talk with her, it’s just like that day. Simple. We just pick up where we’ve left off, as if no time has passed. A few years ago she gave me a ring that had inscribed on it, “A true friend is one you can be yourself with.” Sums it up.
One of my closest friends lives four hours away. I relish the few times during the year I get to spend with her, someone who’s also become like a sister to me. We laugh. Boy, do we laugh. We cry. We’ve experienced some of life’s tragic difficulties together. And we’ve experienced many of life’s joys. No matter how much time has passed, just like with my childhood friend, we simply pick up where we’ve left off. One of the sweetest things in my life is getting to see her. Once while visiting, she brought me to a storefront in downtown Toronto. It was like a grand unveiling – a surprise just for me. Macy’s holiday window displays had nothing on The Cupcake Shoppe. Cupcakes, too many to count, filled the window, arranged in a rainbow of color. I jumped up and down, and let out a little squeal of joy, like a five year old spying the ice cream truck turning down my street. But my sweet friend didn’t seem to mind. Actually she seemed happy this surprise brought me so much joy. Did I mention I love baking and sweets and anything to do with baking, etc?
Another very close friend lives nearer to me. Somehow with our lives filled with kids, husbands, and everyday responsibilities, our times together happen only every now and then. Yet just like my other friends, when we do get together, it’s as if no time’s passed. She, too, has seen me at my highest and lowest. Shared tragedies, enormous amounts of prayer, shared joys, and shared laughs. Last year, she crafted me a beautiful and lovely shawl. Did I mention, she’s an artisan? Knitting is one of her passions. She, too, is someone I count like a sister.
I’m blessed to have such close friendships. Not only do I have these friends like family, I have a sister who isn’t just a sister, but a close friend, too. Although she lives nearly twelve hours away, our countless conversations, shared prayers and times of laughter are precious to me. We may share a family history, but it’s our friendship that binds us together.
These women aren’t afraid to be honest about themselves, or about me. I have the greatest respect for each of them. I cherish their friendship. It’s a gift I don’t take lightly. People who know me best and love me in spite of myself are a true blessing in my life – I’d even say, better than cupcakes.
Happy Valentine’s Eve, friends!
Photo courtesy PhotoXpress.com