When I was four and new to the neighborhood I marched next door, knocked on the door and said, “Hi! I’m Loretta! Do you have any kids?” I was so much bolder then, so much more open to friendship. I spent countless hours playing with the other children in the neighborhood, I had my group of friends at school. Somewhere around third grade that changed. I became an easy target for bullying and I began to close myself off. I put up walls to protect myself and retreated into my dreams where I was beautiful, popular…and very rich.
I’ve had friends since then. Most of them have been casual, I kept them outside the wall and they, perhaps with walls of their own, were content in that position. This is why I’m not on Facebook; there is simply no one with whom I have the burning desire to get back in touch after twenty years. But there are also friends, a select few (ok…two), with whom I will forever be bound. We may drift apart for a season, but we are always brought back together. Sometimes out of need, sometimes just because we miss each other. We’ve shared laughter and tears, we’ve shared our hearts and our deepest dreams and fears. I will always cherish them for putting up with me and sticking with me, walls and all.
But something odd has been happening over the past year. The wall has been coming down. Brick by brick, scraping away at the mortar I’m trying to dismantle it. And as it comes down my life is filling with friends. Friends who hold me up in prayer, friends who just hang out and have coffee, friends who spark my creativity, friends who challenge me to be better.
I have been blessed with so many friendships this year. As Thanksgiving draws near I want each and every one of them to know how very thankful I am for their friendship. Whether we’ve been friends for years, or friends for months, each friend is a treasure. I am thankful for the friends who are near, and the ones who are far away. There are friends who I thought would be forever friends that drifted away, sometimes with shocking abruptness; I am thankful for them and for the friendship they offered for a season.
How does the saying go? “To have a friend you have to be one?” I’m thankful for those who offer their friendship even as I’m still learning how to be one. I hope that you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving, and that your hearts are also full of thanks.