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A Letter to my Daughter on Best Friends Forever

Dear Daughter,

This may come as a surprise to you, but a BFF is not what you think.

When I was in school, girls signed my yearbook “Friends Forever” in big scrawling letters and too many exclamation points. Most of them I have not talked to in more than twenty years.

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I can’t bear to tell you the hard truth:  the girls in your class who sign their notes with it and whisper it across quiet classrooms will likely find some new BFF tomorrow, or next week, or when their mood changes. In grade school, friendships are as throwaway as paper towels.

Friendship can break your heart, little one.  But they can also heal it.

Like Facebook friends and Twitter followers, our friendships have become disposable.  What ever happened to real relationships?  The kind where you sit on the back porch and share the deep stuff over ice cream? With good friends you share the real self, problems and all.

That’s your BFF, girl.

A person who accepts your faults and gives you a Kleenex when the mascara is running big black lines down your face.

Real friends tell you it’s going to be all right when the world closes in on you like a wild animal ready to tear your heart in two. When you have friends, you don’t have to bear this life alone.

A “BFF” is such an anemic term for one of life’s best relationships. We need a better word to describe this communion of souls, this stand-by-me-through-thick-and-thin love, the friend who picks me up when I feel like dirt.

Please understand my daughter, that friends have helped me through my darkest hours, through my giddiest moments, through the ugly years when I didn’t have a clue (middle school, anyone?) and through the worst of life’s crushing blows.

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There is something worse than suffering.

It’s suffering alone.

I have survived this journey because of brilliant friends who stood by me in the valleys and took my hand and gently led me back to a place of safety.

Their unconditional love has been my example of how to love, so pick friends who know about His love. 

Because someone who can accompany you along this faith journey will help you finish the race strong.  So don’t run alone.

These friendships foreshadow even greater relationships in heaven, where we won’t deal with human flaws, where our BFF’s will actually be forever.

The old phrase, choose your friends wisely is only half the battle. 

The other half is hoping the wise ones choose you.

Be careful of friends who pull you off course, out of the race, who will make you someone you’re not. Don’t try to be anything but that person God knit together.  You—a unique creation of God’s hands, of eye color and curly hair and big personality—your  friends will not try to change that.

Real friends don’t tear you to pieces and reassemble you like a block set.  They only build on the beauty that’s already there.

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When people “get you” there’s this relief that you don’t have to pretend anymore.   They will sit with you in your heartbreak and laugh with you in your celebrations.  They are as loyal as our golden retriever.

They like you in your quiet or in your nonstop chatter. Is it any wonder that one of the regrets of the dying is that they had stayed in touch with old friends?  These are the ones who look back and wish they could do it differently:

Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.  (Bonnie Ware)

How does this happen in a world where we are more connected than ever before? How do the cell phones, connecting us to a thousand places, keep us so far apart?

Know when to put down the phone and look someone in the eyes.  Know that this matters, that human contact matters, that real words spoken out loud matter.

 Your attention speaks louder than your words. 

What you value you make time for.

What you say yes to is your life.

These friends are lifesavers, the ones who accept you as you are, who work hard to keep in touch because that is the hardest hurdle—age and time and too many states between you and your friend.

You know what you have to do then?

You reach. 

You extend your hands and work to get past the miles and the silence and the very different lives you lead.

Because friendship is always work too.  But it’s a good kind of work, the kind that pays off like a slot machine on a lucky day.  An investment in good friendships reaps a boatload in the end.

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Remember what my mama always said:

If you want friends, then it’s always your turn.

Your turn to pick up the phone.

Your turn to invite her over to a less than perfect house.

Your turn to pray for them.

Your turn to forgive.

Your turn to accept and love and give.

It’s always your turn.

My friends have shared words of life and fed me hope and extended their hands to help, to nurture, to pull me up—me, the often bumbling introvert who does not naturally reach out.

Friends see those holes in people’s hearts and fill them. 

They extend grace even when the chasm is deep.  They reach.

Daughter, remember that no matter how fleeting the BFF’s are, a real friend will love you at all times.  (Proverbs 17:17)

Through the years, when worlds grow apart and years separate and age makes you wiser and softer, there will still be that holy connection.

The wonder of how God can bring souls together in friendship is a beautiful unfathomable mystery that we get to live.

So live it.

And live in wonder of how lucky you are to have them.

For we are the lucky ones.

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Lastly daughter, remember your mama is your friend too.

All those things I said are true of me.

You might not see that now.

But someday you will.

 


[i] This regret comes from Bonnie Ware’s book The Regrets of the Dying.

Sara

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