On Best Friendship
This post was originally published on the Integrity Blog.
Recently, I lived out the typical “my best friend’s wedding” scenario. I traveled across the country when my best friend had her big day, just like she had done for me last summer when I got married myself.
It’s funny. I’ve seen almost all of my closest friends get married within the past year, and I have my own little collection of bridesmaids dresses going on in my closet. There’s been lots of planning and Pinteresting and magic and stress and coordinating. But that’s not what I remember from weddings.
Do you ever have those moments of extreme clarity? Often times in life, I settle into a routine and, while the rhythm of life sustains my deepest beliefs, sometimes the most profound truths get pushed to the back of my mind. But when clarity does come, the most intense, basic truths and realizations burst through the mundane and stare me straight in the face. They are moments of radical….seeing.
As I have stood in the front of the altar, watching my best friends slowly enter the church on the happiest day of their lives, I really could care less about romance. It’s been the last thing on my mind. Even on my own wedding day, as I glanced around all of the beautiful faces around me, I felt the weight of true friendship around me and in me like a radiant glow. I saw my husband, waiting for me with a smile, as simply my truest best friend, surrounded by the other best friends who held bouquets and rings and were happy with us.
Weddings reveal to me, in shining, crystal clear clarity, what friendship really is. I can’t put my finger on it and I certainly can’t do it justice with words, but I just know what friendship is in my soul and I feel it in my gut and the gravity of its beauty overwhelms me.
When I see my best friends get married, I remember our nights of laughing and crying and being obnoxious. I remember stupid decisions. I remember long talks on the dorm floor and I remember getting cereal at 4am and giggling about our crushes. I remember traveling and living with them. I remember holding them when they were walking through the darkest valleys of life; I remember holding them when words would sting and heartbreak was raw and painful like fire. I remember moments of profound joy and inside jokes that built upon themselves for years upon years. I remember the ways in which their souls and personalities and words have become ensconced into who I am; I have no way of ever knowing the thousands of ways in which my best friends have totally transformed who I am. They have made me radically different. They have changed me.
I told my best friend at her reception: “Friendship is one soul dwelling in two persons.” Aristotle’s poetic words speak an odd truth to me: when I see my husband, my best friends from college, my best friends from childhood, I see part of me in them. Me. In them. I am incomplete without knowing them. Part of my soul is in my best friends.
Friendship. Real, gritty, authentic, intense, loving, truthful friendship is the sweetest reality I have ever known. I think that God delights in pouring his million-fold characteristics into a million different people, and revealing the beauty of Himself in his creatures. When I laugh with my friends, talk with them, love them, I see and know and encounter different parts of Him. It overwhelms me. I can’t explain it or deserve it. The words I think of when I take a step back and reflect on the most beautiful friendships fall so short….but, nevertheless: I am blessed, blessed, blessed.
So, as I sit and write this, I want all of my friends to know: I am thankful. I am thankful that you exist and that you existed in this time and space. Your companionship and witness has kept me alive.
Life is dark and patchy and treacherous, but because of you, I know real joy. In the words of Ellie Goulding, who made me cry last night at the sound of these beautiful words: When I’m with you, I’m standing with an army.
To my best friends: you are my army. I don’t deserve the beauty with which you continue to change me.
I love you.