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