I'm writing from a completely nostalgic/sentimental/sappy place today. Don't say I didn't warn you. ; ) I'm also writing, from a thoughtful/thankful/reflective place, though, so if you can wade through the personal stuff, I think you'll find some practicality here, too.
This post is in honor of my best-friend-for-life's 30th birthday! Please join me in celebrating Katie today (and always, really, but especially today)!
Many of you know this, but Katie and I have known each other since the 2nd grade, and have "officially" (ha!) been best friends since the 5th (or maybe 4th) grade.
I really don't even know where to start to tell our story... We lived 5 mins. from each other. We attended the same school(s). We were in 4-H together. Our moms were friends. We had the same piano teacher. Our families became each other's families. We vacationed together. Etc., etc.
Looking back on our childhood is quite a trip, but it also makes me teary to think of the blessing it was and what a foundation it created for the friendship we have today.
One of the reasons this is currently at the forefront of my mind is this:
Katie recently unearthed our friendship journals.
Yes, you read that correctly. We had friendship journals...plural.
|One even had a matching bookmark.|
Not only have these been hilarious and entertaining to read through, but they've also provided for some reflection and "deep" thoughts (not unlike ones we used to write about in these - haha). So much life has happened since we started that first journal in the 5th grade. What a treasure to be able to look back on not only our friendship over the years, but also our individual lives and day-to-day thoughts and happenings. I think I've mentioned how terrible my memory seems to be, especially lately. It's always been hard for me to remember things from my childhood and school years, except for a few milestone/big deal occurrences, of course. These journals have reminded us not only of various life events, but also of how our days used to look and what mattered most to our younger selves.
We've known for a long time what a treasure our friendship is - we documented how thankful we were many times - and we are continuously grateful for each other and our ever-strengthening relationship. Please know I am not sharing all this to brag, to one-up your friendships, to say our friendship is perfect, or anything like that. Rather, after reading back through these journals, there are some recurring components in various "entries" that provide clues as to how we've made our relationship work over the years, and I thought I'd share them with you.
In no particular order, here are a few key components of our friendship and how we've applied them over the years:
Then: One of the very first entries in the very first journal is, "This will also be a book of appologies (bless my fifth grade speller's heart), and here's one..." From using our "code names" outside of the journal to jealousy to failing to make time for one another, we recognized and sought forgiveness for actions both big and small.
Later: Though we found a surprising amount of these "I'm sorry" notes throughout the journals, I know there were so many more in-person requests for forgiveness over the years. As we matured both in our friendship and as individuals, we recognized the things that might upset the other and learned to avoid them. We also had grace for each other in knowing life changes meant making some adjustments in our relationship, as well, and were patient with the process of working through all that.
Now: We haven't had a major conflict in years, and I'm having a hard time remembering even having a minor one. Though we had never intentionally hurt one another in the past, we learned from the times that we unintentionally did, and have since been able to avoid doing so again. Our grace is likely often extended without a prerequisite apology, though, because we're human and mess up, but we know and love each other in a way that allows us to recognize when hurt wasn't intended and forgive without an apology extended. Perhaps this just came with practice, too - practicing apologizing and forgiving and moving forward.
Then: 4-H, gel pens, boys, puppy chow
Later: slumber parties, shopping, Bible studies, puppy chow
Now: pool time, hospitality, awesome bargains, puppy chow ☺
Seriously, though - a relationship without shared interests is much more difficult to maintain, in my opinion. While our differences allowed us to grow as individuals, our commonalities allowed our friendship to thrive. Quality time is much more enjoyable when you're spending the time doing something you both truly enjoy.
Then: Sharing what boys (a.k.a. "flowers"...don't ask...) we liked.
Later: Sharing what boys we liked (haha - but seriously - this is what girlfriends are for, right?). But also: opening up about various situations and how we felt about them, calling each other out and keeping each other accountable, writing/talking to each other during our lowest of lows and highest of highs (which usually involved tears on both ends of the spectrum)
Now: All of the above and much more! As our friendship has deepened, so has our level of vulnerability. It has become clear to me that this is such an important part of any real relationship. Though I may not tell her EVERYthing, there isn't anything I wouldn't feel comfortable/safe sharing with Katie. With great vulnerability comes great...
Then: Keeping the journal(s) hidden from others' view (both intentional and accidental). "Mom just came in my room without knocking AGAIN." Heaven forbid our own mothers lay eyes on our precious journal. An entry written while writing during a high school class, "People keep looking at me like I'm crazy. Do u know how horrible it would be if people took this and read it! lol. It must be a secret." The next entry started with an "*idea*" to only write in the privacy of our homes and simply transfer the journal at school. haha
Later: As our relationship grew, so did our level of trust. We learned we could trust each other with our insecurities, emotions, and "deepest secrets." From petty thoughts to important feelings and decisions to knowing the other wouldn't back out on plans; we gained each others trust through many, many opportunities to not let each other down.
Now: I hardly know how to quantify this, at this point, except to say that I know I can trust Katie with absolutely anything.
Then: Making a plan as to how we're going to use the pages in the journals (this was a surprisingly prevalent topic of conversation (and consequently, use of space) in the books.
Later: Comparing school schedules and finding several opportunities for quality time during the school year when we were living in different states, because we knew that simply trying to meet up when we were home at the same time wasn't going to be enough.
Now: Knowing that even though we're in the same metro area, we need to make plans somewhat far in advance to spend time together, because life just seems to get in the way if we aren't intentional about it. (The opportunities for spontaneity and the times we're able to take advantage of it, however, are so wonderful!)
Then: "Kensy and I have been having big problems with a group of girls who are extremely rude to us. They are rude to everyone!"
Later: Our friendship survived junior high. Enough said? ☺
Now: Though we have various commitments, several different circles of friends, and husbands(!), we continue to make an effort to prioritize each other and our relationship.
Another big contributor to the success of our friendship is our shared faith (our 5th grade selves even wrote a special prayer for us to say when we spent the night together...I have no memory of ever actually saying it, but it's in the friendship journal! Bless our hearts...). Though we went to different churches (different denominations, even), we attended events/services at each others churches and participated in several Bible studies together. In "Christianese": The intersection of our faith walks was a huge blessing, and Katie's faith continues to challenge me and keep me accountable. In plain terms: Katie's faith definitely impacted on my own, and still does, to this day. ☺
Truly, the list of components goes on and on: intentionality, thoughtfulness, respect, encouragement, etc., etc. I could write a book about all the hilarious and meaningful memories we share, as well as the important conversations we've had and the ways we've built this friendship to be what it is today.
Praise the Lord for technology and the ease it eventually brought to our constant communication, esp. when we were living in separate places. The first friendship journal documents our first e-mail addresses, and we even wrote, "E-mail me!" That said, however, these hand-written words are so precious; there's just something about the time and effort it takes to write, as well as the ability to have it all in one place when we want to reminisce and have a good laugh.
I hope that all made sense to you, dear readers - especially those of you who don't know me well and/or don't know Katie, at all. My goal was both to give you a glimpse into our specific friendship, as well as present more universal thoughts on relationships, in general.
Happy birthday, Katie Sue! I love you so, so much, and am inexpressibly grateful you're in my life.
|This girl, who stood by me (in literally every way) even when I had those bangs.|
(I had such a hard time not sharing more pics than this one...there are some gems, for sure! haha)