Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. ~Galatians 6:2
Many parents do not realize their children watch everything they do and are in learning mode. As a child, I watched my mother, God rest her soul, fall in and out of friendships. As one would exit her life, another would enter, however, she had one friend who was constant. Tina was one of the most beautiful women I knew as a child. Her skin was dark like ebony, high cheekbones and bright eyes that spoke gentleness even when no words escaped her lips. Often she saved me from my mother’s wrath. She loved me and although she never said it verbally, her actions spoke more than words ever could. She was confident and would not back down from anyone.
Everyone loved her because her spirit was gentle, easy going and fierce. She was the one true friend my mother could count on regardless of how she treated her. Tina embodied what it meant to be a loyal, trustworthy, dependable, reliable, honest and loving friend. Whenever she was around, despite what was going on, I knew I would not have a care in the world because she would protect me. Now, as I think about her, I wish she were alive so I could express my deepest gratitude for the friend she was to my mother and guardian spirit to me.
Out of all of the women my mother befriended, Tina is the only one who embodied the true essence of a friend. Because of witnessing so many of my mother’s friendships fail, an 11 year old me vowed that I did not need friends because they would not be like Tina was and would never have the opportunity to mistreat me. Fast forward to 32 years of age and I met Kathy who eventually became my best friend. She did life with me and was there to ground me through many upward and downward spirals in life for almost 10 years before moving back to South Carolina. Regardless of what was going on in my life, she was always there to remind me to whom I belonged and that each trial and tribulation was a test of my faith to grow me up in God; she was right.
When I lost myself in being a wife and mother, it was Kathy who reminded me that I was so much more than those two things. When my marriage was hanging on by a thread, it was Kathy who reassured me that I had done my best and no one could ask for more than I had given to that relationship. When my kids were acting out, it was her who told me they had to make their own mistakes and learn from them. When she broke the news that her family was moving back to South Carolina, time stood still. As I helped her finish packing up her family’s apartment, she told me she felt bad leaving me knowing I had a lot more growing to do in Christ. Also, she knew my family was being evicted once again and did not want to leave me to face the days ahead alone.
When life happens, we need our girls to help us get through those valley experiences. We need the Lauras, Jennifers, Christines, Meghans, Annes, Tinas, Mistys, Yeahbans, Charlenes and name twins to remind us that we are not alone on this journey of life. The Bible tells us, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also the interests of others (Philippians 2:4).”
Friends are a necessary part of life because the right ones are selfless and are always there at just the right time every time. They comfort us when we are hurting, care for us when we are sick, step in and look after us after major surgeries, prepare dinners when we break limbs or cannot get out of bed, they clean your house and fold laundry because they love and care for you when your reservoirs are running on fumes. The women I have the honor of calling friends give of themselves without being asked. They give brutally honest feedback and check me when I need to be checked. They spur me on when life has me bogged down and support me in every endeavor because they know the real value of friendship (1Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24-25, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Proverbs 27:17).
Honestly, I do not know where I would be had I not allowed God to place these women in my life. They erased the thoughts I once had about friends being unnecessary. The reality of it is, I need them more than they know. God did not put us on this earth to live life in a cocoon void of connections with people who mean us good. These unsuspecting women showed that not all women meant me harm. They showed me how to in turn be a friend to them and others. They showed me God in the flesh.
Their friendship also showed that I did not always have to have things figured out or held together. They met me where I was and loved me anyway without judging me for being a frail human being. I am very thankful God put quite a few Tinas in my life whose spirits are not much different than hers was. I am forever indebted to her for modeling what a true friendship looks like. Although she and my mother got into some pretty nasty word wars, they always made up and had each other’s back. To the Tinas in my life, I love each and every one of you and am thankful God saw fit to strategically place you in my life at just the right moments.