On moving, friendship, and the things that matter most

Ever since we left DC, I have had almost zero desire to write. I’ve barely journaled, much less blogged (which is problematic since I am an expected contributor for whitneyandjosh.com). And I didn’t cry until Thursday night, but once it started, I sobbed for a good fifteen minutes or longer.

Several thoughts hit me all at once this weekend, when I least expected them.

First, I miss hugging people. I miss being hugged. I realized that there are very few people here that I could legitimately throw myself across a room in a dramatic fashion to embrace. If you know me well, you know that every friend is greeted with a huge hug, whether it’s been a year or an hour since I’ve seen them last. There’s something quite priceless in a hug that I don’t think I have recognized, or truly valued in quite some time.

The second thought that immediately followed did so in the form of a question: “Why do I not hug people here?” The third thought was, “I really, really miss my friends.” And then I began to think about what makes people special to me and why I value friendships as much as I do.

I have been frustrated with myself lately. I’ve been frustrated that I have yet to find close, best friends. And I’ve struggled to figure out why that is the case. It finally dawned on me. A friendship is made of a million little moments, shared experiences, successes, and failures. I’m sure that I knew this before, but in the span of the past five to seven years, I’ve built strong, solid friendships. The kind of friendships that do not just happen and definitely do not happen in three short weeks.

The first person that popped into my head as I thought about the last five or so years in DC after college was Natalie. When I think of Natalie, the words and phrases that I can associate with her are “best friend,” “sister,” “partner in crime,” “Gathering staff girls,” and “bridesmaid,” to name just a few. And I then asked myself why each of those specific things comes to mind when I think of Nat.

It has been exactly seven years since I had to start over again and I had forgotten what it feels like. Don’t get me wrong, Josh and I have met incredible people here; people I am certain that I will be able to tag with one of these labels in a few months or few years. But as of yet, we have very few shared experiences to bind us together.

Friendships are made the way Natalie and I built ours.

We started our friendship over soup in a Capitol Hill Cosi the week after Josh and I broke up. We barely knew each other, but there I was, crying and pouring my heart out to a girl that I barely knew. She prayed with me that day, and the rest is history, so to speak. We encouraged our fledgling friendship as we mentored girls together at AU, drove leaky MBC cargo vans in the pouring rain, and dreamed of winning students at AU and Georgetown to Christ. We met weekly for lunch and we talked and prayed about our boyfriends, potential future marriages, and ministry. We joked that we were an inseparable superhero team (though we never got around to sewing those capes, Nat).

When I joined the staff of The Gathering, we banded together as the only women on staff, partly for sanity’s sake and partly because we just loved each other. We spent hours together over coffee and we got to call it “work.” We drove cross country to Atlanta for Passion two years in a row. We gave each other pep talks to get through Welcome Week and leadership team dilemmas. Natalie was there with me the ups and downs of my relationship with Josh. She was the one who listened to me cry when I figured out I needed to change the style of engagement ring that I wanted because it was too much like another I’d had before.

She was one of the first people I called after Josh proposed. She was with me when I picked out my wedding dress and she was beside me the day I got married. And on top of all of that, she and her eventual husband, Scott, came and helped us hang our curtains when we returned from our honeymoon.

As Josh and I began to think and pray about moving to South Hamilton, she prayed with us. She encouraged us to go, saying it had felt right to her from the moment we first mentioned it. And when we decided that the Lord was leading us to leave, Nat and her husband Scott came and helped us pack our condo. And then she helped load all of our belongings on the truck so we could leave.

That’s friendship. Deep, meaningful relationships are built on the bonds of shared experiences. Friendships are built experience by experience, coffee date by coffee date, life event by life event.

So, first things first, thank you, Natalie. You’ve made a tremendous impact on my life and have been an incredible friend. I look forward to continuing to share our lives with each other.

I’m thankful that I can’t rush this process. I can’t hurry friendships along in their development. I can be intentional, for sure, but in some senses I have to be willing to sit back, be patient, and let life unfold here with all of the wonderful people we have met thus far.

And thankfully, despite the distance, in fact, just a phone call away, is Natalie.


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