on friendship…sorta

Graduation. That final goal of your mandatory academic career. The pinnacle of your high school years. So much pomp & circumstance. It’s a bit crazy.

Last night was the first big high school graduation ceremony that I have ever attended. Yes, I did graduate from high school, but my graduating class, waaay back when, had only 50 people in it. Last night’s class was so much bigger than that. The whole cap and gown thing gave the whole ceremony that much more of a sense of formality. The farewell addresses, the announcements of where or what each student was going to to after graduation;  add in the sense that their golden years are now behind them and you have the ceremony I attended. One thing struck me though, so many of the grads had written down that they would miss their friends after graduation…if they were your friends in high school, won’t they continue to be your friends after high school, at least for the summer?? Barring that…don’t the majority of them live within a few blocks of the school?

In contrast, the private school I graduated from, didn’t have graduation gowns & caps kicking around so we just wore some nice clothes and called it done, and this is how it is still done. It was a small school back then and would still be considered small when you compare it to the public high schools that surround it, though it has grown over the years. The school’s demographic, back then, extended from Burnaby and New Westminster, to Pitt Meadows/Maple Ridge, to Langley/Aldergrove, to Richmond. For those not familiar with the lower mainland of BC this is HUGE!! We’re talking almost the entirety of the lower mainland. Your friends could’ve come from anywhere and you had to be creative and organized when you wanted to go over to their house for a visit, or go hang out at the mall with them.

Did I keep in contact with my friends? Kinda. Life, though, will sometimes cause people to fall away and be replaced with other things. I have discovered that unless you are both willing to work hard, and I mean hard, at keeping your friendship viable, those teenage friendships may not survive the passage of time. For example, out of my circle of friends from high school, I only have 2 friends that I still kind of keep track of. We are all in different life stages. One of them has been a friend since grade 3, and we used to live in each other’s pockets, having sleepovers that lasted from Friday after school to Monday after school. Our friendship started to change when she had a baby, who was born with mild CP, and so she had a whole different set of priorities, and that is as it should be. I’m not saying that we fought, or had anything traumatic happen, but it took a whole more work to make getting together work, and we started to slowly drift apart. Different lives started to develop.

The other friend? Well she and her family moved to New Jersey after grade 10. We ended up having to write letters to each other, as long distance phone calls were not allowed (too expensive). Letters. If you’re young and don’t know that those are, think email, but hand written on paper, folded, place in an envelope, sealed, and mailed through the post. You had to cram as much as you could into those letters, because who knew when you would receive another one. She now lives in Ontario, the other side of the country, and we still write occasionally, but with both of us working full-time, both having children, albeit hers are a lot younger than mine, and households to run it is getting more and more difficult to keep abreast of how things are going. Thank God for Christmas letters tucked inside of cards.

The friends I have in my life right now I treasure so much more than those I had when I was young. People who hold me up, who challenge me, who give me the gift of their time, who are willing to tell me things that I don’t necessarily want to hear but need to. They pray for me, and I them. We do our best to do life together not just coast alongside each other.

“A friend is a person with whom I may be sincere. Before him I may think aloud.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friends, they are one of the bulwarks of life. They see us though our ups and downs, see us at our best and our worst and still want to be with us. They are the ones who get to hear first all of our triumphs and all of our failures. They have one of the loudest voices in our lives, sometimes even over our parents. They have so much influence that it sometimes scares me, especially when I watch the friendships of my children…oops, sorry….teenagers. Other than family they have the greatest capacity to lift us up or tear us down; to speak the hard things, to challenge us, or not.

All this thought about friends has brought a few old hymns to mind. Yes, hymns…I know, random. I grew up with hymns and though a steady diet of them makes me want to plug my ears, some are powerful and have stayed with me throughout the years. ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’, ‘A Mighty Fortress’, ‘Just as I Am’, and many more. All songs that point to the enduring love, safety and friendship of Jesus. He is the ultimate friend. One I am so glad to have in my life, even when He wakes me up BEFORE my alarm (ahem) to get up and write.

So my friends, Who are some of your most enduring friends? How do you keep the relationship(s) going? Inquiring minds want to know, and learn.

Comments

  1. My friend … (nudge-nudge, wink-wink) What?!!! Jesus woke you up BEFORE your alarm to write? How cool is that. Just very cool. I still had to set my alarm.

    I just had a week in South Africa and I got to meet up with two very special childhood friends. One friend I’ve known since I was 8; the other since I was 13. I am so blessed to have friends like them … friends that have encouraged me that school friendships CAN last, if we make the effort. Scott and I have made an effort and my friends make an effort in return. I am so thankful for looooong friendships. There’s something very secure and affirming about that.

  2. Michele, oh so true that friends are the bulwark of life. It definitely takes initiative and work, but it’s so worth it. I guess that’s how I keep mine up through different seasons of life: I do my best to take initiative and reach out if I haven’t seen a good friend in awhile. When I was younger I might have struggled more with “why am I always the one to call?” but life’s too short for that kind of self-focus. And, I’m recognizing God’s grace and direction more in friendships – grace when it’s been awhile since meeting a friend, and grace to let go of some that God had intended for just a season and specific purpose in my life. As much as I can take initiative, rich lasting friendships really are a gift from above.

  3. I love that line “lived in each others pockets” so blessed to know you michele. My oldest friend is from grade 8, actually she was in grade 8, I was in grade 9, I flunked or so we were in the same pe class. Yes, i flunked pe. We have managed to keep to the same circles in life. It’s cool to know some for that long. My new friendships I treasure as well and keep them going by just connecting. I love fb, I never feel out of the loop when I am house bound with a sick baby or hectic schedule.

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