I like to eat breakfast. I like waffles, chocolate chip pancakes, fruit smoothies, muffins, eggs, bacon, yogurt, and oatmeal. But my favorite, go-to-breakfast is cold cereal. Full of fiber or full of sugar, I don’t care. I could eat a box of cereal every two days if I didn’t practice self control. Today I ate a bowl of Berry Colossal Crunch and I thought about friends.
I thought about my first friend in kindergarten, who is living in San Francisco, a recent grad from Princeton. I thought about our matching Jasmine pajamas, and the times we would yell at each other and try to make the silent treatment last. I thought about the things we shared: deodorant, books, fears, hurts, laugher. And so I smile.
And I thought about my newest friend who recently buried his father. I thought about the first time I met him. I thought about our latest conversation. I thought about the questions, the honesty, and the listening ears that make me grateful for this new friendship. And so I smile.
I thought about my high school group of girl friends. I thought about the hours together on bus rides, in practices, and in class. I thought about the now embarassing phases we went through. We all took turns reading the “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” series. And we had slumber parties. Lots of them. We ate strawberry pretzel dessert. We had silly fashion shows, complete with a runway. And we did whatever it took to try to stay up all through the night. My friends in high school and I were dreamers. We would lay on the trampoline, looking at the stars dreaming. We would swing at the city park, kicking off our flip flops, reaching our toes to touch the leaves on the trees, and we would share our hopes for the future. We would cuddle together, with more than enough blankets and pillows and talk about boys, and college, and dream jobs. And so I smile.
Today, I thought about my college friends. I thought about the countless hours we spent in class Facebooking and online shopping. I thought about living in the dorms and the annoying fire alarms. I thought about living in the apartment and roaring at the people getting off the drunk bus. I thought about intramural sports, and Oasis, and Bible studies. I thought about Trendz, Chocolatte, Cubby’s, and the Wellness Center. A lot of things happened in those four years. First dates, dropping classes, engagements, burying loved ones, burning supper, weddings, interviews, mission trips, coffee dates, Hallmark Christmas movie marathons. We cried, we laughed, we prayed, we yelled, we forgave, we listened, we wrestled, we hugged. And so I smile.
I thought about my sisters. I thought about the camping trips, ice hockey, and the Nintendo tournaments. I thought about playing Barbies, potty-training Sassy, and swimming at the lake. I thought about hunting for our Easter baskets, I thought about raking leaves and jumping in the huge pile. I thought about drinking wine as we listened to the Christmas story. We share memories, genes, and crazy relatives. We share recipes, books, and clothes that no longer fit. And so I smile.
Thinking about my friends makes me smile. But I also cringe inwardly, annoyed with the way I’ve been handling my friendships. You see, this life is flying by so quickly. And I’m beginning to realize that I don’t always appreciate the friends and family in my life. I let work and volunteering and good books come before Skype dates and telephone calls.
I believe we were made for community, more than just Sunday morning fellowship. I need deep, honest relationships with people who know the difference between my real smile and my fake one. These people in my life are like my home team, rooting for me, praying for me, telling me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it. And I am that for them. These people cry when I’m crying. They tell me their secrets and I tell them mine. They help themselves to a glass of water when I have them over. They text me back and take off their makeup in front of me. These friends and family are my home team. They’re my middle-of-the-night, no-matter-what people. But yet, sometimes it’s hard to share life. Because to be close and connected requires time, effort, energy, and sometimes money. It takes forgiveness, compassion, and selflessness. But it’s so worth it. My home team needs me and I need them.
Shauna Niequist wrote in Bittersweet, “Good friendships are like breakfast. You think you’re too busy to eat breakfast, but then you find yourself exhausted and cranky halfway through they day, and discover that your attempt to save time totally backfired. In the same way, you can try to go it alone because you don’t have time or because your house is too messy to have people over, or because making new friends is like the very worst parts of dating. But halfway through a hard day or a hard week, you’ll realize in a flash that you’re breathtakingly lonely and that the Christmas cards aren’t much company. Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sounds of their laughter, and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments.”
So take time tomorrow to make breakfast. Eat it slowly, praying for your home team. Don’t let months slip by before a phone call, a text, or a roadtrip. You need to eat breakfast and you need to live connected to good friends.