We walked into a new sanctuary surrounded by strangers. The music was familiar, but the church and the people were new to us. I was more observant than worshipful taking in the faces and feelings around me. Finding a church body and a place we feel like we belong has certainly come with it's challenges. As I stood there taking in a new place, I spotted a young woman near the front of the sanctuary. She had bright purple hair and I could visibly see some of her tattoos as she raised her hands in worship.
I leaned over to Todd and said, "Um, I'm gonna need to know that girl. She has purple hair AND tattoos. I'm pretty sure we should be best friends."
You see, as long as I can remember, I have always, ALWAYS wanted a fun color hair. Somewhere between the jobs I've held in various offices and being married to a man who isn't too crazy about unconventional hair colors, I've never had the chance to try out the bold colors like bright aqua or hot pink. Naturally, I'm drawn to other people who so effortlessly pull off an edgy and bold look. And while it was her hair that drew me in, something in my gut told me I needed this gal in my life.
But instead of walking up to her and introducing myself like a normal person, I spent the next three months worth of Sundays inching my way up to her row in church. Maybe if I could sit in the row behind her, we could finally
say hello during meet-and-greet and it would be then she would realize that we were supposed to be best friends. It never seemed to work out though and I was losing hope that I would ever find some kind of way of approaching her that didn't sound like: "So, you're hair is awesome and I have tattoos and I've also Facebook stalked you a little bit already. Do you want to hang out and be my best friend?"
A few weeks later on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, the girl with the purple hair stood at the front of the sanctuary to share a brief testimony of gratitude about what she had been through that year. I remember her saying that God had isolated her from the rest of her family and friends during a time of sudden loss and immense grief, and that in her isolation she awakened to her need for Jesus in a way she had never known. Those words spoke to places I had been hurting and angry with God for where I felt He had also isolated me, especially in relationships. My tears began to flow and I looked at Todd. "Oh, now she really, really has to be my best friend. I just love her."
Now that I finally had a reason to approach her with something to say other than a comment about crushing on her hair, I immediately found her after church and our conversation came easily just as I knew it would. We quickly found each other on Facebook (seeing as I had already Facebook stalked her beforehand) and exchanged numbers and overnight, this beautiful friendship blossomed between myself and a Michigander with amazing hair who unexpectedly found herself in my-neck-of-the-woods Texas.
After our first coffee date that lasted nearly five hours, she sent me this silly meme:
In all seriousness, this girl, is the dearest to me. While so many of our conversations and banter is various levels of shenanigans and nonsense, her friendship was exactly the one I needed and had been praying for. She has said the same and we both agree that our friendship was a divinely orchestrated by God. And He must get a kick out of the two of us together, because how could He not?
Ya'll. Making friends is hard isn't it? I watch my boys walk into a new place and sit next to another boy and they start playing together like they've always played together. It seems like somewhere between our youth and growing into adults, something goes awry in the friend-making department. We can probably blame middle school for that, because everything awful happens then anyway. But, making friends - finding someone you click with and enjoy and want to be around and who understands you - it's not something that comes easily, at least not in my experience.
I've learned a lot about myself and my flaws as a friend over the years. I am quick to write people off if I don't feel an instant connection. I usually won't invest my time in someone if I know they aren't sticking around long term and sadly, I check out and try to fade away from people that feel exhausting to maintain friendships with because it requires too much of me. So much of my actions in friendships in my adult life hasn't been kind or loving. I suppose it's human to find it hard to always be kind and loving in relationship with another person 100% of the time, nevertheless, how I have behaved or treated others in the past isn't the kind of friend or person I desire to be.
In the blossoming of new friendships to those that fade or sometimes sadly dissolve and break all together, I am discovering that there is something to be learned from every friendship. And so, I keep learning and messing it up along the way. All relationships require a significant measure of grace to succeed and I know there have been times I have been slow to extend it. I have let friendships go without telling someone how I really felt - mostly because it feels risky and vulnerable to fight for a relationship that you're not certain the other wants to keep. I am sad for the places where instead of putting up healthy boundaries, I simply withdrew. I may have some epic failures in the friendship department, but I hope to grow into a woman full of love, grace and kindness. Because all of us desperately need those things - especially in relationship.
God is rich with grace and continues to put new friends in our paths to grow and stretch us, to minister and encourage us, and to give us a talking to and speak hard truths. And when He brings a friend along who loves Star Wars and quotes "The Office" and shares your love for bright-colored hair, and her heart is literally shaped just like your own, then you count yourself especially blessed.