friendship + family

The Ties That Bind

January 20, 2015

girlfriends

Last week I found myself making last minute plans with a few of my new Portland girlfriends to watch the College Football Playoff championship game – with Ohio State and Oregon. We quickly realized this would be one helluva feat, given we lived in Portland and the bars would be crowded with die-hard fans. To avoid crowds, I suggested the girls come to my place since I had a TV and wine. It would be their first time visiting my apartment, and though I hadn’t had a chance to tidy up beforehand I didn’t want to pass up a chance to have some girl-time. Turns out, we did much more talking than watching the game (which was for the best, because the ass kicking Oregon took was painful to witness), and it was exactly what the doctor ordered! We talked about everything and nothing and it was so therapeutic. All of us have been in Portland less than 3 years, all relocated for jobs, all living with our significant others, all in the same sorority, all #TeamNatural, all struggling to figure out where the hell does life take us now. As we sat facing each other, popping bluepillsberries and sipping wine, and repeatedly squealing, “OMG me too!” or “OMG I’m the same way!” I felt giddy with excitement that we were all placed in each other’s lives to help us get through and make this new city far from our family and friends a home (at least for the time we’re located here).

My mother has always encouraged me to maintain healthy female relationships. “Men will come and go, but good girlfriends last forever.” After over 30 years of marriage, my mom still regularly spends time with her close friends – over enchiladas y margaritas, to sew dresses for girls’ orphanages over seas, going to the city fair to buy products as seen on TV,  sailing off the Pacific coast, etc. She and my dad spend a great deal of time together (especially since he’s half retired), and it’s extremely rewarding and necessary for her to have time outside of her marriage and her kids (when we were living at home, or bombarding our way home while in college lol) to maintain her relationships with her friends. As a woman who has given so much for her family (especially when I was in band, lawd, that was a full time job for us both)  – and continues to give – it’s a wonder she is sane enough to have time for normalcy with other non-life-sucking humans lol. My mom’s close relationship with her girlfriends inspired me as a high school student to write one of my English research papers on friendships between girls/women. Each woman I interviewed shared my other’s sentiment of how important it was for them to have healthy female friendships. One person even admitted that though she didn’t have many friends, she wished she had a good girlfriend or two to turn to. The older I get, the more I appreciate my mother’s advice and outlook on friendships.

Having good friends has made all the difference in the world in my life. There’s no way I would have survived grad school without my friends (both women and men) – the support, encouragement, and comraderie we shared was life changing and sustaining. As I mentioned the other day, I’m trying to be more intentional about expressing my love and appreciation of my friends. And as I get older, I find it harder to make new friends! As much as I’d love to be #NoNewFriends (because I already have a great group of friends and if it ain’t broke…), it was important for me to make new friends when I moved to Portland – a city where I knew no one, had no family, and was on the opposite coast of my beloveds and the love of my life. I am thankful that God has smiled down on me and granted me with some girlfriends I can have a good time with and have soul-searching, thought-provoking conversations with.

It could have been no coincidence that on the same day I gathered with my new girlfriends at my place, Joel O. sent out this word…

TODAY’S SCRIPTURE
“The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.” (Proverbs 27:9, NLT)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Friends help make this life a little better each day. You can probably think of multiple instances where a good friend changed the day for you and made you look on the brighter side. That’s exactly what God intended friendship to be. True friends know you well; they give you wise advice from the Word of God. No ministry would ever get off the ground without support from friends in the faith, and this ministry is certainly no exception. The wonderful things God has done through this outreach are a direct result of the commitment that friends like you have made to stand with us in reaching out to millions of people around the world. Everyone needs a faithful friend — so why not make a commitment today to be a friend to someone who needs you.

A PRAYER FOR TODAY
God, thank You for the friends that You have put in my life. May I be the encourager and strengthener that I know You want me to be. In Jesus’ Name. Amen. — Joel & Victoria Osteen

I repeated this prayer of thanks to myself as I sat with the same group of women, at one of their homes, this weekend watching Lifetime’s “Whitney” and drinking Redd’s Apple Ale, pausing and rewinding to converse amongst ourselves about any and everything. Indeed I believe our growing friendship will make all the difference in this coming year, as life continues to move us forward.

Thankful,
~Gem

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