“A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity” (Proverbs 17:17).
I miss high school, college and my early twenties days. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I never want to go back to that time. I don’t miss the insecurities, the drama or the hormones. I miss the comraderie, the community, the relationships–even the desperate intensity, at times. While visiting my family in Phoenix, I had lunch with my friend, Jules. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding 25 years ago. We had a college class together and attended our small ‘College and Career’ group at church. She is one of the most accomplished women I know. One thing she said resonated loudly with me: It seemed so much easier in college–the passion, the relationships, the bonds.
We grew up. We moved geographically. Our lives became busy.
In high school and college, no matter how busy or stressed, I always made time for friends. We hung out at the mall food court, Denny’s-by-the-freeway, Appetito’s, Five Fools, the new frozen yogurt place. My best friend, Pier, and I used to make ‘midnight runs’ to McDonald’s to get french fries or Wendy’s to get a frosty. Pier and I went to football games and plays on the weekends, and it seemed we never ran out of things to say or got bored with each other. If we felt profound, we’d hang at her house and listen to Simon and Garfunkel.
After getting married and having kids, I met with friends at the park, each others’ houses or at McDonald’s play area. We craved adult interaction. Sometimes we would run errands together, exercise together or just linger after church.
We shared life. We wept together. Laughed together. Played together. We became a true community.
Jud and I miss that community. Life circumstances sometimes lead us to transition. Somewhere along the way, we lost our community, and now find ourselves trying to get it back. Problem is, we aren’t the same people we once were, and the social groups that once held great relationships for us don’t satisfy any longer. Finding deep friendships in our middle years has proven a challenge. Venturing outside of ourselves, outside of our opinions, outside of our interests takes effort. Yet, outside of ourselves, deep friendships grow. Too often, we look for sameness in people–same political views, same social justice views, same spiritual views. But sameness never has produced the best relationships for us. Sameness can become a rut and can prevent depth of knowing another person. I want to enter into others’ stories again. I believe in reconnecting with forgotten friends and openness to new friends, we will find the community we desire.
I watch my kids with their friends. They laugh, cry, play together. They share meals and heartaches. They treat each other like family. Many of their friends call me ‘Mom’ out of convenience or because they spend so much time in our home. I love all of them. Sometimes I eavesdrop on their conversations and find so much joy in the way they see life and the world. Their community offers hope to my heart.
I hope that my few deep friendships can become a gathering someday. Until then, I continue to find joy in my individual friends and know that we have many years of laughing, crying and playing together.
So how have some of you developed deep friendships in your post-child era?