Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Secret of Friendship (Bluebell not required...but it helps!)

I have the best friends in the ENTIRE world. No, make that in the entire HISTORY of the world.

Who else has friends that would drive 4.5 hours just to bring Bluebell Ice Cream to one that hasn’t tasted the goodness of that silky dairy substance because she’s been stranded in a city where people believe ice cream should have egg in it*

Yeah, I can only think of one person with friends like that—ME!

A motley crew: Gator, Tiger, Seminole

On a more serious note, I absolutely love my friends. I have four very close friends and only one of those that I usually see on a regular basis; that all changed this summer when I took off on my Midwest Adventure. I was in a new place and had to make new friends; which was awesome—because the friends I made are amazing individuals. I’m just so blessed.

But last night, after 756 miles and 12.5 hours of driving on minimal sleep—I was not expecting what busted through my door---Carly and Shelley.

Carly, Me, Emily and Shelley after a long night of driving

My best friend (and cousin) Emily, along with my fiancĂ© and parents had been hiding the fact that my best friends from high school were making a flying trip from the Swamp to surprise me with four flavors of ice cream. And not just any ice cream—Bluebell Ice Cream—which flows from the banquet table of Heaven and is packaged somewhere in Texas. What ensued were epic conversations about armadillos, love and how to jump off a side mount battery. (Trust me—it’s best if you don’t know!)

Amidst the giggles, random dancing and laughter we discovered something that folks have been searching for all of their lives; people have died trying to understand this—hearts have been broken because of this… and we figured it out over four flavors of ice cream.

We discovered the Secret to Friendship.

Now I’m not just talking about fair-weather friendship. I’m talking about long lasting “I’m still your friend even if you are being a butt-head” kind of friendship; the kind of friendship that gets people through the hard times… through doubts, cold-feet, break-ups, busted windshields and fear. This friendship isn’t for pansies. This stuff has grit. And that grit is what makes us into better people—it polishes out the rough spots.

My friend Shelley is what I like to call a word-smith. If there isn’t a word or phrase that fits what she’s describing she’ll create one. It doesn’t matter that it’s not “technically” in the dictionary—she created it and used it in a proper sentence therefore it is now part of the English language.

One such phrase is “friend-jealous.” One of Shelley’s more practical words—it is used to describe old friends who are jealous of new friends that a mutual friend is making. For example, I moved to St. Louis. I made new friends. One of my old friends is jealous that I have new friends. Therefore this old friend is “friend-jealous.”

Fortunately, I don’t have that problem with any of my close friends; from our ice cream laden discussion tonight we determined this is just a small part of the secret to our friendship.

You see my closest friends and I come from similar backgrounds but hold very different views, standards and make decisions in ways that often times the others don’t understand.

I mean can you honestly expect two aggies, a pageant girl, a drum major and a slightly punk-rock chick that wears cowboy boots to agree on ANYTHING?

The truth is we don’t always agree but we are always open to what the other person says. And if the other person makes a bad decision we don’t judge them. Not saying we don’t tell them what they did was stupid—we just don’t base our friendship on the bad decisions they happen to make.

This openness makes it easy to come to each other without fear. It doesn’t matter if I’ve made a stupid decision, am worried about something or have just acted like an undesirable equestrian animal, I can still come to my friends. We don’t have a friendship of fluff. We have a friendship of grit. We can call each other out on mistakes and we can offer them a hand to help them get back on their feet. We polish each other. We are better people because of our friendship.

Because of this gritty and open friendship the miles that are between us don’t matter. Other friends we’ve made don’t significantly impact our relationship. Our friendship has no fences—we can roam and grow however we need and after our roaming we can always come back to each other. We have a friendship of freedom.

Freedom to be who we are without apology.

Freedom to make decisions and not scorned because of them.

Freedom to live and fail.

Freedom to love and lose.

Freedom to grow.

It is in this freedom that we discover our differences and similarities. Through these differences we are refined. Like stones being polished by grit and water and emerge shinning with glimmering colors that reflect who we are and who we are becoming.

The gang minus Codie--our resident drum major

“As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17

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