Tuesday, July 12, 2011

grown-up friends.

You know when you were a kid on Christmas morning, and you woke up and realized your parents had bought you the best present ever? And you’d look over and see them smiling, so proud of their gift, so happy for you, and you’d jump up and give them a long, tight hug?

Sometimes, I feel that way about God.

Thursday night, while driving away from a gathering of friends, I was filled with this overwhelming sense of gratitude, of joy. And I just wanted to be able to give God the same kind of hug I give my parents when they are oh so good to me. I wanted God to know that this life, these gifts, they aren’t wasted on me. I love them; I appreciate them. I am grateful.

When I graduated from college and made the decision to move back to Tallahassee, I was nervous. That hadn’t been the plan. But an upcoming marriage and a paying job changed the plan, and my old home became my new home, and I wondered if I would ever fit back into that already-completed puzzle.

I floundered for a bit, trying to figure out where and with whom I belonged. I quickly learned that college isn’t really very much like real life. There are no built-in social clubs. Your best friends don’t live right next door. You don’t live and eat and work and play with the same people day in and day out, and as a result, intimacy and community are hard to come by. I realized that those friendships, those three all too brief years, were a rare gift.

And now, as I look at the group of friends that God miraculously brought together in this college town, I realize I have been given another gift.

For months, I wondered if I’d be able to grow up here, be able to reach adulthood in this town where I’d played little league basketball and graduated top in my class. I wondered if I could find kindred spirits hidden among the colleagues and the acquaintances, the mean girls and the girls who didn’t need me quite like I needed them.

But I did.

Somehow, some way, by, I believe, a miracle of the Father, I did.

Through that first paying job, through book club, through friends of friends of friends, I found my community. I found where I could grow up and belong.

And guess what? It’s not like college. We don’t all live in the same apartment complex (though some of us do); we aren’t all in the same life stages (though some of us are). But God saw fit to give us the gift anyway. 

Girls from farming communities in the midwest, girls from tiny private colleges, girls with husbands, girls with post-graduate degrees, girls from small jobs, big paying jobs, stressful jobs; now girls with babies. Girls from all over the place who found themselves — thanks to jobs or educations or husbands — in Tallahassee, Florida, a transient town where people come and go or somehow wind up staying forever.

It’s not easy, making grown-up friends. Schedules are packed to the brim. We don’t have slumber parties or stay up talking until all hours of the evening. We often go a couple of weeks without even seeing one another. There are husbands and boyfriends and babies and countless other small-seeming but big-feeling responsibilities.

But there is also less drama, more compromise. Fewer hurt feelings and better dinner parties.

I believe I met some of my lifelong friends in college.

But as the years pass and the distance grows, I wouldn’t be too surprised if these girls I met in the first months of my marriage, in the throes of beginning adulthood and graduate school and grocery shopping and apartment-dwelling, wound up being lifelong friends too.


sherri lynn said...

I totally know how you feel - sometimes I am so overwhelmed with gratitude for all the Lord has blessed me with and I can't even express it! While I don't feel like we have a ton of friends where we are now at this point in our lives, your post reminded me to be thankful for the friends I do have and to be thankful for where He has placed us for now. So thanks for the reminder! :)

Julianne said...

Oh, Annie, you have turned me into a teary mess at work. So thankful for you, sweet friend.

Laken said...

This is always something I've worried about -- thanks for giving me hope :)

Lauren said...

Such a great post (as always) because it is so true. God truly blessed me when I came back to my hometown after school, and I was able to find a community of people who I can't imagine not having in my life, and how we support and love each other. Community, with all of its ups and downs, is a beautiful gift. Thanks for reminding me of that :)

Four Flights said...

I feel so much like you; although I feel I found my "niche" group of friends after I became a mother. I look at the women I am closest with now and I wonder how different my bridal party would look. I have 3 girlfriends I met soon after college while we were all in our first career, and we are all still in contact and close, but it's the momma friends that I count on the most now. Even though it took me quite a while to find them, I'm thankful that in this large town, God helped me find a few very special ladies :)

Anonymous said...

This post was really nice to read. I worry a lot about making friends out of college, especially since I'm planning on moving to a different state. Thank you!