friendsgiving.

I’ll be the first to tell you that I am terrible at initiating quality time with people I care about. “I’m an introvert!” I cry out. “It’s not my natural posture to think of leaving my home to go talk to another human being!” And while that is true, it is quite the cop-out. I’m an introvert who loves people, and yet finds it so hard to initiate showing my love for people.

I am well aware of my propensity for isolation and solitude, so when my friends suggested an annual (or biannual, as it’s become) Friendsgiving, I thought, YES. This is exactly what I and my equally introverted husband need: a tradition that ensures that we spend some quality time with some of our favorite people.

And thus, our Friendsgiving tradition was born.

Friendsgiving II (our second one) took place yesterday, and it was full of food, laughter, and of course, a watching of the movie “Elf.” The living room was full of friends and warmth, and I was reminded what the mere presence of friends can do for my heart and soul.

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I love having a room full of people–especially these people. They fill a room with good things: laughter, love, memories, hope for the future. When they are in the room, too, there is unspoken history that blankets us, softening the time that has gone by since we last were together. It’s a history chock-full of fights and forgiving of faults, of coffee dates and crying on shoulders, of leaning on one another and falling together, of picking each other up and brushing each other off, of holding hands and doing the brave things, of getting angry together, of chickening out and choosing the easy way out, of God’s grace being experienced and extended to and through one another. And on Friendsgiving, we say, “Wow, it’s been too long, but it’s okay, because we’re here now,” and we make a promise that we will keep the lines of communication open. We will keep caring. We choose to be friends, even though time has made it harder.

I owe much of who I am to these people. I have been forgiven and have had to forgive. I have been loved and have loved. I have learned what true, real friendship is: hard work that is well worth it. Our relationships are no longer as effortless as they were in childhood or in college. I cannot simply walk down the hall and jump onto my roommate’s bed and catch up on the day. Adulthood doesn’t allow for the weekly sleepovers and all-nighters with the girls. We have had to adjust to new people and new life stages. We’ve learned the grace of making room for the new important people in one another’s lives, inviting change instead of resisting it, knowing that if we are to keep walking the road of life together as friends, we should accept the gifts Time gives us along the way.

Years have passed and will continue to pass, and God-willing, these people will be there. Things will continue to change, and perhaps that’s what Friendsgiving teaches me: that change is normal and natural, and I’m growing up, and they’re growing up, but that doesn’t mean our love for one another fades. As everything in each of our individual worlds morphs and evolves, we will make time to come together, to meet one another where we are, and to invite one another in once again with open arms. Friendsgiving is choosing to continue to give of ourselves for the sake of friendship.

It’s a reminder to me, too–a challenge–that a friend gives of herself over and over again, even when it is hard. I realize where I have fallen short. I tell myself, Be a friend. Love better.

These people have seen me at my best and at my worst, and it does my heart good to see them sitting in my living room, still choosing friendship with me, and I with them. What a beautiful, pure thing it is to love and be loved.

To those in my life whom I am blessed to call a friend: thank you for the things you give–of yourself, of your heart, of your soul–to be good friends to me. I am unworthy, but I am so blessed.

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