The three musketeers. That’s who we were. Heather, Julie and me. We met in college, though I can’t even remember exactly when or how we became friends. It just seems that we always were.

 

We lived nearby each other in the dorm rooms. We studied together. We ate together. We even ran a small catering business together. The only reason I persisted in running three miles every night around the university campus was to be with them. Together.

 

As friends, we planned our futures. Our weddings. Our babies. We planted dreams about our careers and houses and everything in between that would eventually fill in our life’s landscapes.

 

There was something easy and unforced about our friendship. We fit in a way that it seemed as if they had been in my life forever.

 

Through the years, life has taken us far away from one another. Life has also brought us back close to each other. Yet, no matter where we have landed, our friendship has remained.

 

 

As special as it is, my story of friendship is not unique. Most of us have similar stories about someone —a neighbor, a sister, an aunt, a childhood friend—that has walked with us through our big moments and our broken moments. They have loved us and celebrated us. They have wiped our tears and championed our dreams. They have been our dearest treasures. They have been our friends.

 

Perhaps the greatest lesson I’ve learned about friendship is that true friendship is a safe, fertile garden for us to thrive.

 

1. True friendship is first and foremost a place of safety.

Safety is that place where you breathe, knowing there is nothing you have to do to earn the friendship. It just is. You trust the friendship is real. There is an authenticity to it. You can touch it and feel it and put your weight on it. It will not fail. Your relationship is as strong as it is sure.

 

My true friends accept me. They believe in me. We want good things for each other. We are the other’s lifelong cheerleaders. Even when one of us falls or feels like quitting, there is always someone there to gently nudge us back to our feet and believe for us when we cannot believe for ourselves.

 

2. True friendship is planted in fertile soil.

The soil of friendship is important. Mutuality, openness, respect and compassion create a rich environment for individuals and relationships to grow. Whether we share about our faith, our families, our struggles or fears, the strength we gather allows the roots of our lives to grow deep and strong.

 

My friends know my story—the good parts and the tortured parts. I don’t have to hide my wounds from them or work to present a perfect picture of myself to them. There is an openness between us when we are together. We respect one another. We know and are known by one another.

 

3. True friendship is a place for us to grow and thrive.

Good friends bring out the best in us. I am my best self when I am in their presence. I am my best self, perhaps because of their presence. We encourage each other to grow.

 

Friendship should never make us weaker. True friendship makes us stronger. I am stronger in my faith. I am stronger in my relationships. I am stronger in my work, because there is collective strength interwoven in the cord that binds us together as one.

 

A friend is more than a therapist or confessor, even though a friend can sometimes heal us and offer us God’s forgiveness. A friend is that other person with whom we can share our solitude, our silence, and our prayer. A friend is that other person with whom we can look at a tree and say, “Isn’t that beautiful,” or sit on the beach and silently watch the sun disappear under the horizon. With a friend we don’t have to say or do something special. With a friend we can be still and know that God is there with both of us.
― Henri J.M. Nouwen

 

My friends are passionate women. They are fiercely dedicated to embracing this journey, trying amazing things, overcoming daunting challenges. Being with them inspires and energizes me to embrace my life with equal passion, commitment, determination, and tenacity.

 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 says, Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

 

Twenty-eight years later, Heather and Julie are still the best friends a girl could ask for. Our friendship is still rich. Still seamless. Still powerful. Still. After all these years.

 

[bctt tweet=”True friendship is a safe, fertile garden for us to thrive.”]

 

In what kind of garden are your friendships planted?

How have your friendships strengthened you on your journey?

Share with me how you have grown as a result of your friendships.

 

I’d love to hear!