Today my children and I took a little road trip to have our annual post-Christmas lunch with two of my best friends from high school. With 8 children under 8 between the three of us, it is a noisy little get together that doesn't leave nearly enough time and space for deep connection or lengthy conversation. And yet, there is just something about being together that reminds me why old friends are such treasures.
The rich, unspoken history.
Many chapters of life under out belt.
Back stories that do not need to be shared, because they have been experienced together.
We know each other's parents and grandparents.
We remember how each met our spouses--and can laugh about some of their predecessors.
Yes, indeed, old friends are a sweet gift.
As we were exchanging gifts I was struck by the note Randi wrote in mine: "I am so glad we decided all those years ago that it was not going to be hard to be friends."
I had almost forgotten about that conversation until Randi, with tears in her eyes reminded me. We have come so far that I forgot how hard it once was. In high school we fought like sisters at times. I can't even remember what about--just that we frequently had each other frustrated and in tears. Until one day (in our early 20s, I think) we had a relationship altering conversation. We decided we were either going to be loving friends or we were not going to be friends anymore. We could not always behave like the 14 year olds we were when we met. We could do the hard things of life together as friends, but we were not going to stick around in each other's lives just to make things more difficult.
As a 37 year old adult it honestly makes me cringe that it was that blatant of an ultimatum...but in retrospect, Randi & I agreed today that it revolutionized our friendship. We realized we loved each other. We chose to stop biting at each other and decided to act like it. In what was perhaps an act of relational maturity that was preparing us for the journey of marriage, we learned how to be on the same team. Today, we have 23 years of rich life-giving friendship to show for it. Our investment has yielded great dividends.
We don't always get to choose who is in our life...family, colleagues, neighbors, customers are often a part of life we seem to inherit to some degree. But friends, to borrow an old adage, are the family we choose. When we treat each other with care, the returns are often precious.