February 22, 2010

A Friend By Any Other Name...

I've just spent the last few days hanging out with my sisters. It's something we only get to do a few times a year because of distance and work schedules. A few days spent with my sisters is a few days of having fun, acting stupid, making a fool of myself and laughing until every muscle aches. Who could ask for more?

It got me thinking about the role they play in my life as not just my sisters, but as friends. Think about the friends you have in your life. I don't mean how many friends or even specific names. I'm talking about what KIND of friends you have. You see, God gives us all kinds of friends to fill all kinds of needs that we may have. I got to thinking about these different types of friends and the role they play in my life.

My sisters fall into one of my favorite friend categories. They belong to the group of friends that I can be loud, rude and completely obnoxious with, as well as inappropriate and embarrassing. This is actually a need that I have to have filled in my life and they are there to help me fill it. This is a great group for me because I can make a complete idiot of myself and they will still hang out with me.

But what other kind of friends do I need? What other types of friends has God provided me?

I have "mom" friends. These are the friends that totally get it when I say that I'm ready to beat my children or shoot my husband. They understand the feeling of loving your child's smile while at the same time wishing you could cover it up with duct tape to prevent hearing the words "mom" or "why" come out of that mouth. We can share our struggles with discipline, bills, housework, meals and marriage and know that we have a sympathetic shoulder to lean on.

I have "young" friends. These are the friends that I love hanging out with because they make me forget that I'm older. We all have kids so we're emotionally the same age, right? If you're a mom with young children, you instantly have something in common with other moms, even those that are younger. We can talk kids, babies and the desire to have more or to shut down that factory forever. We exchange ideas, recipes and hand-me-downs whenever we see each other.

I have "single" friends. These friends are some of the most fun. For me, I see them mostly at church functions but I look forward to them being in attendance. When I'm with them, I feel like I'm in my twenties again. We're silly, goofy, and always funny. Life isn't quite so serious when you don't have a mortgage or dependents.

I have "lifelong" friends. Lifelong friends are few and far between. These rare individuals are some of my closest friends. I may only talk to them once a year or once every few years, but at any time I can call them up and we can pick up our conversation as if no time has passed. There's no need for long explanations because they just get it. They know me.

I also have "peripheral" friends. I think for most of us, this is the category that most of our friends fall under. These friends are always there at the edges of my vision but it's only when I change my focus that I really benefit from that friendship. These are women such as other homeschool moms. I only see them at co-op but they make the day enjoyable and I value their suggestions and support. Most of the women I attend church with fall under this category. Church, bible class, retreats and gatherings just wouldn't be the same without them. I look forward to these events just so I can spend some more time with them. I may not see them often outside of the usual meeting places, but I know I can call on them in the event of an emergency and they will be there, as some of them have already proven.

Friendship is a very flexible thing that changes with the seasons, our situations in life and sometimes even our moods. God puts people in our lives to satisfy all the different needs we may have for companionship, mentoring, acceptance, entertainment and assistance. Some people may fall into different categories at different times. Others may just fill a role for a short period in our life and then be gone forever. Whatever their particular role or purpose in my life, and no matter how much I may neglect them or take them for granted, I am so very grateful that God has placed all these women in my life.

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