I’m at the age where many of my friends are married or in relationships. In fact, my best friend of 15 years is married with three kiddos ranging from 2 years to 10 years old. Her life is hectic like most people’s — school events, ministry responsibilities, work and family. Stumbling upon some free time is like finding a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow — extremely costly and imaginary. What is this “free time” and where does it come from?!
Yet, in the craziness of both of our lives, we are there for one another. When I’m broken down on the side of the highway, she sends her husband to pick me up so I don’t have to ride home in a tow truck. When she’s sick, I buy a small fortune worth of medicine, cough drops, Vitamin C and honey. When I get invited to speak at my Alma mater and live out one of my dreams, she’s there cheering me on like I just won the lottery. When her kids are in the Christmas program at school, I’m there taking pictures. That’s one of the perks of having a friend. They’re there through crisis and celebration. Living life together, making sure the other doesn’t lose her mind. They’re onhand with chocolate, a fresh cup of coffee and an encouraging word.
We all need that type of friendship in our lives. This doesn’t change even though our relationship status might. Married people still need friends outside of their spouses. I’ve seen people cut themselves off from friends and loved ones because of relationships. Their significant other becomes their only confidant and everyone else gets lost in the shuffle. Speaking for myself, it’s been difficult to see and experience, but it happens.
I’m still trying to figure out what to do when that happens, but I know it involves extending grace and understanding. New relationships are exciting and wonderful, and it’s easy to get caught up in the feelings and the affection. Hormones have quite the effect on people. I think the best thing to do is just be willing to be available and to do your best to not take it personally. There’s nothing wrong with you, and there’s probably nothing you could have done to stop it.
It’s important to remember we need friends in all different stages of life. My single friends are great for last-minute dinner outings and late-night movies. My married friends are up for a night of catching up on our favorite shows while enjoying a bowl of cereal or ice cream. Life’s about balance, and my friends help me with that.
Get familiar with being the third or fifth wheel, being scrunched in the backseat between car seats because it means your friends want to bring you along for the ride. Whether it’s an apple-picking adventure with the kids or a birthday at Chuck E. Cheese, savor the moments knowing that, as the token single friend, you weren’t forgotten. Rather, they wanted to include you in their lives.
Regardless of whether you’re in the same stage of life or not, let’s be friends who include others. Make it a point to surround yourself with people who aren’t like you — people who will stretch you and sharpen you. Enjoy the variety, and let people know you appreciate them for the “other” they bring to your life.
Who are you thankful for today?