If there has been one thing I’ve learned about true friendship, it’s this: Give It Time.
I’m currently in a running class at Liberty, and yesterday I followed my professor up – up – up into the mountains for a training run. My friend Sarah came with me, and even though I brought my headphones in expectation of us separating on the trail, we stuck together the whole time.
Three hours and forty minutes later, we ascended that final hill with big smiles of accomplishment. Yes, I was proud of completing the miles and elevation (and only being second to last instead of dead last), but what I wanted to celebrate even more is the work that was done on those trails. And I’m not talking about running.
Sarah and I became friends our very first semester at Liberty – she was this adorable blonde girl in my Mass Media Communications class. We kept up in classes, until senior year we had every single project together, spending innumerable hours together either working on, or enjoying the distraction from, our Advertising campaigns. And as our projects unfolded, so did each of our lives, as our conversations started going deeper and longer than the car rides to and from our group meetings.
And then yesterday, we had almost four hours together on the trail, and even though it seemed like we’d already covered it all through our many previous heart-to-hearts, there we were, hearts unveiling our (super tame) daddy issues (because every girl has them), sharing what we’ve overcome, what we’re still struggling with, and pointing out the work God has done in each other’s lives.
God uses relationships to bless us for so many reasons in so many ways, and over the last four years at Liberty, my friendships have revealed God’s relational nature to me and inspire me to live differently. In my roommate relationships alone, these patient sisters have dulled away my rough edges, taught me grace and how to believe in myself, all bringing so much joy, encouragement, and wisdom.
So while on the trail yesterday, somewhere between the alternating running-walking-climbing, Sarah and I were able to freely discuss the shameful things, passing words back and forth, letting pauses sink in as nature nodded along quietly, until the ambiguous feelings turned into praise to the Lord for working all things together. We’d never get there on a 30 minute run or if we had just known each other for three months. It takes time to go deep – but it is so worth it.
I just received news about my summer – I’ll be heading down to Charlotte for an internship (more about that later), which essentially means starting over. I know one person in the area, and as I reflect on the richness of my friendships now, it is bittersweet knowing that I’ll have to pay my dues with the next phase and the next place. I won’t have the option of picking up yesterday’s conversation on a three hour run with Sarah or staying up late to tell my roommate Kayla about how we saw God work that day (but you can keep up with her on her blog - she's pretty cool).
But this post serves as a reminder on why it’s worth it. Relationships, simply put, are work and time. Awkwardness and even temporary loneliness are necessary ingredients, but eventually, the season of planting and harvesting give way to spring. Sometimes flowers bloom quietly and you ask 'how did that get here?' and other times they burst forth like what I experienced on the trails yesterday. I'm so grateful to have found people willing to spend hours and hours with me and have found that I've learned more from friendship with people sitting next to me instead of in the classroom that brought us together.