The Very Worthy Value of Cultivating Good Friends
“You have been my friend”, replied Charlotte. “That in itself is a tremendous thing.” ~E B White, Charlotte’s Web
About a year ago, a very close friend, someone that let me bare my soul without fear, moved almost a thousand miles away. Oddly, our friendship took root and deepened in a relatively short amount of time compared to women I have known far longer. I don’t think I love her more than I do my other friends, because I genuinely cherish them all. I think it’s more that we have so many shared life experiences.
A mysterious thing happens when we discover a kindred soul. In spite of life’s disappointments, we share and delight in small triumphs. The friendship strengthens and encourages us both to keep pressing on. We know the hurt that underlies outward bravery. It’s a secret sisterhood of overcoming, of showing up, of remaining filled with gratitude and staying fascinated with life even when faced with difficulty. She has always stayed positive and made a big impact on the lives of many even though she was completely unaware of the example she was setting.
My friend reached a time when she could move a step closer to finding her bliss. Way down in her soul she knew she was being called deeper and closer to knowing her purpose and finding her calling. While a part of me wildly cheered her on, selfishly I’m sad and a touch envious that she is further along the path than I am now. Still, it encourages me to know my time will come, too.
What has this taught me? Three things come to mind right away.
- It hurts but it’s worth it. In our life, our path will intersect with all kinds of people. Sometimes it‘s fleeting. Other times the journey alongside each other is longer. On rare occasions, we’ll run into someone who immediately resonates deep in our spirit. I hear the words I tell my daughter to comfort her at times like this, about the way incredible friends will appear and shine brightly for a time but most will travel on by and become a warm memory. I tell her that is how life works. It sounds hollow now after saying goodbye to this friend of mine.
- We must make time for friends. Few things matter more to the quality of a woman’s life and even her longevity than having good women friends. Sharing, supporting, cheering and consoling all come naturally to women. We’re good at it, and we need it in a way that even the most exemplary husband can’t quite match. Women are the glue that holds a community together. There are things that can wait. Being a friend can’t.
- Grown-ups are still developing. It doesn’t stop at childhood. Somewhere along the way we forgot our needs change with the years, too. Adults develop and mature throughout life. In the early years of raising small children, women compare notes and encourage each other through our physical and emotional exhaustion. As we reach the “empty nest”, we need to challenge each other to stay focused on the present and future instead of what lies behind us. In later years, we may need the wisdom, comfort, and humor of friends as we deal with physical limitations as well as the loss of loved ones.
I wish I’d made more of our friendship while I had the chance. I know my friend and I can span the miles with emails, phone calls, and Facetime but there’s something magic about a hug, a touch, a pat on the shoulder. Just this month, my friend’s mother died at 94. She is devastated and reached out to me in an email. I was able to comfort her with written words across time zones. We have shared so many deeply heartfelt talks over coffee or wine that she knew my voice without actually hearing me. Still, we both longed for a hug, like we could exchange in the past.
The best thing I can do now to honor our incredible relationship is to be more loving, more supportive, and more appreciative of the wonderful women I call my friends. Especially for women, close friendships are a key to greater life satisfaction and even better health. When you’re deciding on the worthy values you choose to honor, make a wise choice to take time and nurture your relationships with good friends.