A few months shy of seven years ago my husband accepted a tenure-track professorship with a small college in South Carolina. The news finalized a decision that had already been made for us, but one I did not want to happen: we really were going to move away from Corpus Christi, Texas. We were going to strap our babies into their car seats and drive 1,293 miles in the span of three days.
We were going to start over … again.
The job offer my husband received was a good thing … in some ways, the ways that it was not merit their own story that I will tell another time. But when we learned about the position in Charleston, we viewed it as an opportunity to finally plant and grow our roots. My husband’s contract with the university in Corpus was not going to be renewed. He needed a new job and there was only one college in the city where we lived. We knew we were going to have to move regardless and to move toward an opportunity was a “yes” answer to many choked out prayers.
Right after I heard about the job offer, I called my four closest friends in Corpus: Melinda, Molly, Julie and Suzanne. I was smiling when I relayed the news. They all smiled while hearing it … I could feel them smile, we were that close. But when my thumb pressed the “end” button after finishing up that final call, my lower lip trembled and tucked itself behind my teeth.
My newborn son stirred awake from his nap and when I bent over his white wicker bassinet I fell to my knees. Instead of picking him up, I started sobbing so hard that my tears splashed down on the light blue blanket that swaddled him.
How could we leave?
How could we move from the friends who became as close to us as siblings?
How could we inhabit a home nearly 2,000 miles away from the people who in many ways helped save my life during a time when I didn’t want to be alive anymore?
Those precious women I had just talked to were the same women who loved my baby boy since he measured the size of a cashew inside my belly. The women who met and instantly adored my daughter when she barely toddled and couldn’t talk.The women who taught me how to open myself up and pour myself out. The women who showed me that illustrating Christ’s love requires living out that love, and that to do that, I had to be brave. From them I learned how to lift the decades-old rejection that veiled a courage I never knew I owned.
Friendship like we experienced along the Texas shoreline doesn’t happen all that often in a lifetime.
Friendship in its rarest, most powerful form is built day by day on a foundation of vulnerability and grace. It’s bonded tight from the gritty, the glorious, and the garden-variety moments that come with honest conversations and hearts that refuse to label or judge. This time, it came from cooking meals in each other’s kitchens, changing their babies’ diapers, and helping them fold their laundry until their homes become nearly as familiar as my own.
I’ve experienced this life-doing, life-giving type of friendship in other seasons of life … a season before my babies and a season before my husband … the circumstances that bonded us together were different, yet the motives and needs were the same.
While I now live hundreds of miles away from my sweet friends I met in Corpus, the lessons I learned from them and the power of those friendships will never be lost.
Can you recall a time when friendship changed your life?
If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. – James 2:8
Michelle Waychoff says
Oh how I loved this post. Thank you so much for sharing this story. I’ve moved almost every 3 years for the past 17 years as a member of the military. It’s because of this that I’ve turned away from developing close friendships. It’s just too hard to say goodbye. Ironically enough, one of the very few women who I formed the strongest bond with and who taught me the most about giving 100% to others, left me before I had a chance to leave her. She passed away suddenly at the very early age of 37. She gave me so much more then just friendship, and I miss her like crazy.
Bevy @ treasured up and pondered says
I have this happening right now – to me! A good friend, who is older and wiser and her husband. the are relocating, heading out of State, for various reasons…like in just a few short weeks. Totally unexpected. And, I’m going to them (yes, her husband too) – they were like grandparents to my kids!
One of the things my friend said – her Mother always told her. “Leave when the the going is the hardest to go; or when times are the best!”… that’s how you’ll know you’ll be missed and that you have left an impact or influence in someone else’s life..
They did that!
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I, too, have moved about this country quite a bit. With each move, I admit, it was a job to bloom where I was planted. I realized that if I was going to have friends then I would have to step outside my comfort zone and dare to be vulnerable. Not an easy thing to do. Some people I didn’t gel with, but God was always faithful in helping me find someone that I did gel with – that I could relate to and eventually call friend.
I have now lived in the same place (NC) for 17 years and the friendships I’ve made have truly and literally been lifesavers. I have never lived near family and so my friends ARE my family. Now we’re getting to that age that one of my closest friends is looking at retirement and possibly moving away and it hurts my heart because we have been through so much together. Again, God has raised up other women who I have seen that I need to reach out to. God will give us special people who cross our paths…it’s then up to us to work at creating the friendship.
Blessings and all the best to you as you create a home and friendships in Charleston!
what a lovely post..i had briefly met my best friend while she came to our garage sale.we chatted over the sale of a sweater she was buying and instantly became best friends..25 years later are still so close..she is the one who is like me in every way and the one person I always can rely on.she had lived in the city where I lived but after getting married moved to a farm aways away.i was nervous that her new life would change our friendship or I wouldn’t hear from her much,not at all..we stayed as close as ever.and now 25 years later still are close as sisters and im so thankful God gave me her in my life..you dont find a best friend that lasts thru everything in every person but when you do find that forever one friend its great !!
Sadly, to answer the question at the end, no. At least not as an adult.
Sadly, my answer is I wish it was true friendship I’d experience; but obviously its not – because they’re no longer my friend. I have one friend from high school that I’m still close to – can pick right up like no time has passed, but it is hard because we don’t see each other enough 🙁
I tire of opening myself and being vulnerable as I don’t want to be hurt anymore.
Belinda Bryan says
Wow! I have experienced this so many times. At my lofty age of 62, I’ve run the gamut of friendships. The really solid ones span the test of time and distance.
Last Saturday, I was having a major pity party. I asked God to have a friend call me and ask, “Are you ok?” I didn’t specify which friend. BUT, my friend of 37 years called me within 30 minutes, asking, “Are you ok?”
I have another friend who turned 80 this year. She and her husband were our Sunday School teachers when we were newlyweds, over 40 years ago.
I can pick up the phone anytime of the day and call these ladies and know that they will listen and pray. Love that old Petra song: “Friends love one another. Friends, sisters and brothers. Friends, all in the family of God. . . And when the going gets rough, they’re lovin, prayin, and carin for you.”
Friendship is one of the best assets I know. Spiritually-based friendships are like gold. I can make friendship deposits into others’ spiritual bank accounts and they certainly have done so into mine. Joy and laughter seems like dividends being paid and when times are tough spiritually, it’s my friends who have helped me avoid bankruptcy, i.e. completely bottoming out.
Kate Carman says
I enjoyed this, I am realizing that vulnerability is one of the things that matters most to me. Vulnerability, for me, takes practice, but the longer I remain in God, the easier it gets. Having safe places to practice vulnerability is an incredible gift. With today’s technology, we are able to practice vulnerability with women all over the world! I have no doubt you will be a blessing to your new community, changing diapers of babes not your own, putting away dishes in other people’s cupboards, and folding other families laundry soon. 🙂 It’s the practical application of vulnerability, being able to cry with the snotty face and scrub one another’s toilets, now that is beautiful!
Carol hiestand says
When my one remaining sibling died almost 9 years ago I could think of nothing else than how lost I felt. 4 months later my husband learned one Monday morning his ministry on staff at the church we loved was no longer wanted. This was betrayal and loss.
I had a some close friends who listened w out judgement or questioning. And while others would casually ask how I was doing, forgetting why the answer was probably ” not so good” they asked because they wanted to know. They called themselves “carol’s posse”. They are still my best friends.
katie b says
Beautiful! Thank you so much for this! I am moving from a wonderful community for my husbands job and it is so nice when other people get what that feels like. 🙂
Yolanda D Young says
Thank you for that beautiful story; it is hard to find true friendship —but you did. And because you had that kind of experience you will be able to be that kind of friend to someone you will meet in your new location; you will be able to pay it forward……
Thank you for sharing. I had some very dear and wonderful friends, like you had…but all 5 of them moved away from me. It took me 7 years to get over it. While we all stay in touch I still miss all of them. I guess the biggest thing was that we all shared not only our faith but we all liked the same things and we all held each other accountable. They were not gossipy friends, but friends that helped you try and be a better mother, wife, friend. While I still stay in touch, with distance and all of us spread all over the United States it just isn’t the same. But I feel lucky I still have them even though they are far away, I know they are a phone call away. We all get together from time to time. Thanks for realizing and writing about how powerful friendships are.
Friendship has always changed my life…mostly in good ways, and MANY times in profound ways.
As an “older” stay at home mom and wife (our oldest child, 28 years old, lives at home with us…he has Down Syndrome!)…I find it harder to find friends. When I was a young mom, there were play groups and mother’s day out and home-room moms from my child’s class. There were football moms and booster club and choir or handbells at church. We all met for lunch with the kids every Wednesday at the playland at McD’s or CFA…or the park, and lunch out on Tuesdays after Bible Study with just the girls.
We have just moved to a new town. Not many women my age are at home…and I realize my situation is different. It’s always been different. One of the ministers from our church took our family out for lunch a few weeks ago. He told us that people say it takes 7 years before you feel at home in your community and have connections and friends and all of that.
Not gonna lie…I nearly cried. SEVEN YEARS? Are you kidding me? We’ll probably be moved to another place by then.
One thing I’ve learned in all my years of moving…you can’t always wait on other people to make the first move. Even in church.
So…here I go…
My two best friends have moved away in the last few years, we all met in Southern California, one lives in Berlin now and the other Duluth, Minnesota… I thought my world would end – but we go on – and are as close as we can be considering the distance (and timezones)
I have new friends, relationships that are different, and continue to grow and blossom… I am grateful to God beyond words for the blessings of friendships and what they mean 🙂
Beth WIlliams says
Being an introvert I find it hard to make friends. I was super shy in high school, thus had few if any friends. Through the years I have slightly outgrown my shyness and try to be more vulnerable and open.
Strangely for me though I make friends with older people. I tend to be able to open up and talk with them as though they were family. When I do make true good friends I stick with them through everything–I will call, pray what ever it takes. I shower them with God’s love!
Tammy Brock says
We had very dear friends like that at our church in NC. Family friends. Once-in-a-lifetime friends. We too were called away, to Charleston, of all places and have found it hard to make those types of connections again. Praying for boldness as we explore the small groups at the church we’ve been attending.