“Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another.” – 1 John 4:11
As I write this to you, I’m knee deep in preparations for what Caro, Missy, and I are calling Cous-isn’ts Camp 2017. I am so excited, I can hardly stand myself. As someone who did not grow up with sisters, friendships like the ones I share with these ladies grow more and more important as the years roll by.
Once upon a time, seventeen years ago, I met Caro and Missy through a volunteer corps program hosted by an Episcopal parish in Washington D.C.
That year and the soul-deep friendships I formed with those two women changed my entire life. It has not always been possible for us to meet up every year to visit since we moved out of the house we lived in together on Dahlia Street. In fact, we haven’t been able to all be together all at once in five years—and in that time, there have been three new humans born, we moved to Ohio/Kentucky, and… lots of life happens in five years.
There is something holy about the kind of liturgy that is our friendship—the things we do the same way each time we are together. This time around, there will be popsicles, wet-wipes, diapers, chicken nuggets, and plenty of chocolate-smeared gigglers who are in the midst of forming the second generation of this part of my family of choice.
It’s not like we do anything particularly crazy or productive when we are together. We eat a lot and laugh a lot and don’t sleep as much as we probably should. We watch the same movies over and over. We laugh at the same parts of the funny stories we always tell each other, and cry when we share hard things that we might not want to say over text messages or email.
These are women I have prayed with, for, and alongside for almost my entire adult life. We’ve nursed each others’ broken hearts, commiserated with each other over families of origin, celebrated births and early milestones in childrearing and marriage. We’ve shared stories of Jesus and grace and mercy and that cute pajama sale we couldn’t pass up at Target. These are women I want on my side when the chips are down, two very important voices in my Council of Reason—you know, the people you love who will either talk you out of that crazy idea or help you figure out how to make that crazy idea happen—and I would trust either of them to order my dinner at a Mexican food restaurant, barbecue joint, or Chinese take-out drive-through.
Caro and Missy have been evangelists of joy in my life—encouraging me to be braver and kinder than I thought… or sometimes wanted… to be. I think back to the young, young women we were when we met, the ink just barely dry on our diplomas, when time hadn’t dared to begin tallying the marks of smiles and frowns and weighty adult-y decisions like mortgages and minivans and makeshift farms around our eyes and mouths.
Sure, there are weeks and months that are quiet between us. I mean, we’re grown ladies with families and reasonably healthy boundaries. But if you look at the text message logs between us, you’d swear we talked every day. The gift of an almost two-decade friendship is that we have not only developed a liturgy for our time together, we’ve also crafted a kind of patois all our own—phrases and words that mean pretty much nonsense to anyone else, silly word games or voice-tricks we play with each other. There is an ease and comfort I feel with these two friends that is so rare and beautiful, it’s hard to believe it’s been five years since the last time I was able to bask in their presence.
Everyone needs a friend or friends like that. I am so grateful for the wealth of love in my life, for all the ways these two women look just like Jesus to me.
Who shows you Jesus through friendship? How did that friendship begin?