Fighting for friendship

I’m really looking forward to writing this post because it’s a tribute to a friend of 30+ years. I met her in college after going on a missions trip with her boyfriend/future husband who happened to be my FH’s (former husband’s) best friend. She has always been such a ray of sunshine and is adored by all. When I went through my divorce, I put some serious strain on our relationship. I think it’s important to tell our story because our friendship meant a lot to both of us and we had to work at restoration, largely due to how I handled things. I want to share some of the details because, well, we all find ourselves in this situation at one point or another.

I was fortunate that my FH’s closest friend married someone I really liked. We would all hang out on weekends and even travel the world together; after a summer missions trip we hiked the Swiss Alps, ate our way through Italy and discovered that we had booked a hotel without a/c in France. Soon after we had kids around the same time and the kids became good friends, then got pregnant with our #2s. When she and I were pregnant, the four of us took off for Mexico and left the soon-to-be older siblings with the grandparents. This was at the height of a challenging marriage and I remember sharing my heart with her as we laid in the sun with our big bellies. I know that was hard for her. She had a good marriage and I would often compare hers to mine which made her feel extremely uncomfortable. I was in such a bad place. At one point on that trip I looked into what it would cost to leave early and go home but ended up staying due to cost.

We had our second babies within two weeks of each other and I remember her visiting us in the hospital. My FH and I were separated when my little Jake was born and I called him when I was going into labor. More awkwardness for our dear friends, lol! But they came and loved on us and supported us as we introduced them to our little Jake.

I was over at her house one day when she mentioned her little Noah was doing something funny with his eyes. I remember feeling the weight of her concern…we decided she should see a doctor so she took him in the next day. They were immediately admitted to Children’s Hospital and it breaks my heart all over again to write this but her little guy was sick and never recovered. He went to be with Jesus in 2007.

And still my friend trusted God, her heart was open and she used his story to tell others about the love of Christ. I was always amazed by her, she had a strength that I respected and a grit that I envied. She was strong and positive and an incredible leader and I was struggling just to function.

She and her husband knew how messed up our marriage was, in fact they knew us better than anyone. Her glass-half-full persona allowed her to love me/us well through really hard times because she could see past all of the junk and love well despite it. Very few people can do that.

The night my FH and I discussed divorce, he mentioned that at the beginning of the summer he had told his best friend we probably wouldn’t make it. That pierced me like a knife…his lifelong friend knew about the disintegration of my marriage before I did. And that’s where judgment started to creep in.

I remember having coffee with my friend about 8 months after my divorce. I asked her why she and her husband didn’t help us fight for our marriage and she shared it was because it seemed that things were already over. I told her that it was her husband’s job to talk to my FH and really get in his face about standing for our family. She seemed surprised, even shocked. I was coming at her from the place of a wounded person who was lashing out at whoever was within reach.

I went to counseling the next week and told Erin what had transpired. “I think you owe her an apology,” Erin shared. “It’s not their responsibility to fix you guys.” I was so offended; I completely disagreed and do you know that I wrestled with that for years before I understood what she was saying to me?

My dear friend was in town last week; she reached out to me and we ended up going to breakfast together (along with our kids). As we caught up I looked across the table at her and thanked her for being gracious and patient with me. She has loved me well over the years, she has given extended grace and offered redemptive moments. She has done all of this with genuine love and kindness and without judgment or criticism. She knew I was hurting and she gave me time and space to heal.

Healing is such a beautiful gift, it truly does infiltrate every relationship we have. My heart swells with gratitude as I think about the redemptive power of God in our friendship, and I thank Him for gifting me with a wonderful friend who is there for me, always, even on the days where I reacted out of hurt and pain. And to her, today I say that I am sorry for placing my burden on her and her husband who have been nothing but the dearest of friends. She was caught in the hardest place.

I thanked her for being gracious with me. I apologized for how I behaved. She loved me through so much when it must have been hard. She does that so well.

Last week I told my kids something started a half-hour earlier than it did (I’m hoping someone can relate…I just wanted to be on time.) On the way there they called me on it. “I can do better,” I said. “In fact I will do better.” I am learning to embrace my mistakes and make peace with the people affected by them.

And I am fortunate to have friends like Ade in my life. Her gift of grace has extended the life of our friendship, one of the most beautiful gifts she could offer. I love you, Ade. Thank you for your big and forgiving heart.

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If you know someone who could benefit from this post, please share. God carved out a path of intense healing for me and I would like to share it with as many people who need or want to hear. 

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