“How do I have friends now?” I questioned the dark room echoing with newborn screams. “Who will want to be friends with this mess? And what will we do together?”
Friendship started with fun. Playing tag on the playground, climbing trees, hitting crab apples with tennis racquets in the backyard.
Friends meant sleepovers and ice cream and endless giggles on the summer nights while chocolate dripped from our mouths and marshmallows exploded on our sticks.
As I grew, friendship meant different kinds of fun. It meant the first time we drove home from school together, going to endless movies and eating too much Chinese food.
It meant choosing formal dresses together, and then staying out too late after the dance. It meant sneaking into the house, praying the door was quiet enough to mask our giggles, and then watching Tangled like little girls until the wee hours of the morning.
In college, friendship meant falling in love at the same time, and then crying over a pint of ice cream when “those darn boys” broke our hearts.
It meant playing piano at the practice rooms until midnight, thinking our hipster crooning was just it, and then writing songs to the hum of the heater in our room instead of doing homework on time.
Having friends was a blessing, a joy, a treasure—one taken for granted. Because in the aftermath of the unexpected—the traumatic labor, the endless screaming, the milk flowing freely with my tears—I didn’t know how to have friends. Or if friends would have me.
Scripture shows us examples of many beautiful friendships, but one of my favorite is that of Naomi and Ruth. (Ruth 1-4)
While many friendships are formed from fun—these ladies became friends out of circumstances. The most unlikely of circumstances.
Ruth was a mess. She had married outside her faith, her ethnicity, her family circle. Now she had no husband, no income and no one to comfort her.
Naomi was even more of a mess. She had no home, no husband, no children, and the land she lived in didn’t look kindly to Israelite refugees.
Their friendship was born of necessity. Of a shared grief, a shared need, a shared love.
As a new mom, I didn’t know how I’d ever make friends again. What a joy to find out I didn’t have to.
In the weeks after my son was born, when I was a hot mess of depression and sleepless nights and showerless days—God saw my desperate need of friends.
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With a frozen pizza, a tub of ice cream and a breast pump, He sent the first of my treasured mom friends to my door, hugging my snotty, puffy-eyed, throw-up covered self.
In the time that followed, He sent more mom friends. Friends that were more than fun. Friends that had been there, that knew my need to just be a mess.
Now, friendship means play dates in the backyard, chasing laughing children around the coffee shop and endless variations of conversation, such as “Don’t hit him.” “Eat your food” and “Don’t poop your pants.”
In this season of toddler tantrums and sleepless nights and endless cups of coffee, friendships are more than fun. They are faithful witnesses of the love of Jesus, loving me in my mess, sharing in my struggles and dancing with me during my need.
She that finds a friend for her season finds a treasured friend indeed.