This past weekend I spent a lot of time with some really great friends. The kind of friends that everyone should have. Friends that, as kids, we dream of having and imagine our best friend to be like. Friends that don’t judge you for the color of your hair or skin, or because of what you believe or how you believe. Friends that will help you get through any situation, or at least listen to you as you process it and give you a hug and a prayer if they can’t do anything else.
As we sat around watching fireworks and movies, I thought about how far I have come over the past 30 years. Thirty years ago I was a newly married 20-year-old. I was desperate to find friends who were married, so my husband and I started looking for people similar in age to us. Long story short, we found “friends” who liked us for what we could do for them, but if we needed something they were “busy” or couldn’t help us. We had one ‘mentor’ friend, who had his own issues, but we were desperate to listen to him because we thought he was more mature and wise. As it turned out these people were not the kind of friends that we thought. A few years later, we moved far away; hurt and alone, except for our wounded marriage. We started over, still without friends, I was lonely and scared raising a one year old son while my husband worked many long hours. I was desperate for friends, so I latched on to a friend with two young boys about my son’s age. We started building a friendship, but six months later they moved to another state. We sent a few letters back and forth but lost contact after a few months. Once again, I was without a friend, and for someone very social that was a tough pill to swallow.
A couple of years later, the economy fell and we moved to Texas where I once again started looking for friends. I met a lady about a week after moving and we became fast friends (only on the surface, though). We were both stay at home moms with young kids, but that was about as far as our friendship was going to go since we didn’t have any other common interests. We did start walking together in the mornings though, and I started realizing how much I really liked to walk. After about 3 or 4 months, she started having some serious marriage issues that started affecting our “friendship” and we drifted apart. We also moved to another part of the metroplex, which helped me see that we were not really right for a friendship together.
And….once again, I started seeking out friends. I met a lady and I thought we were going to have the kind of friendship that I was looking for, but instead of a good, healthy relationship our friendship was just the opposite of that. Sadly, I didn’t see it for what it was for many years. During our 3 year friendship, I started going through a very rough patch. I gained a whopping 50 pounds, almost permanently ruined my marriage, had a miscarriage, and thought that friends just used each other. After coming to the realization my friendship wasn’t helping my situation, I had nearly decided that I just wasn’t going to ever have any good friends.
Fortunately, I was wrong. After cutting my losses and moving on, I finally found some friends who were the kind of people to be there for me in any situation. They built me up, and helped me. They prayed with me and for me, offering suggestions on how to better myself and my relationship with my husband. They were there for me like true friends through “thick and thin,” and even gave us financial support when we were struggling. These were the people we’d been looking for all along. Friends that always help, whether we think we need it or not, and step up to the “mat” to do whatever needs done.
I am so glad to have these friends now. Friends who will do anything for me. They lift me up and make me smile. They know when I need to be heard. We walk together – 5, 10, 15 miles – laughing and sharing our fitness journey. We support each others “hair-brained” ideas, and know when to take a step back and let things sort themselves out. My friends are always supportive of me and my efforts to change my diet and better myself, never shaming me for my food choices, but trying to understand and help.
The people with whom you choose to share your life can be the best thing or the worst thing in the world. Take my advice and get rid of the toxic friendships and surround yourself with people who will lift you up. Create healthy friendships! That’s what I have done, and I’ve never been happier!