Before I was my children’s mother, before I was my husband’s wife, I was a friend.
As I think back on how I came to be who I am, I truly believe that being someone’s friend was how I started to discover more about who I was.
I met the first friend who made an impression on me when I was in the 8th grade. My family had just moved from the U.S. to Nairobi, Kenya, and in a brand new school, I was overwhelmed with culture shock. I remember meeting this Eritrean girl and thinking how smart she was. Her name is Hiyabel and today, she is my daughter’s godmother and still one of my closest friends.
Since then, friends I’ve made have lasted, have come, and have gone like the seasons.
When I was younger, I knew that most of the friendships I made would not last forever. This was because my parents were missionaries, and we moved around a lot. In my youth and naiveté, I simply enjoyed the friendships I made, and when it was time to say goodbye, I moved on. Frankly, I didn’t become cautious in who I became friends with until my college years.
Some of the closest friends I have, I made in college. Sadly, I no longer keep in touch with several of them. In some cases, it’s partly my fault; in others, it’s theirs. If I’m being honest, there are times when this grieves my heart. On the wrong day, it can even become somewhat consuming. But the rest of the time, I am able to acknowledge that life is better that way. And I don’t say that out of spite. It took a while, but I am now able to acknowledge after many months of (self) reflection that it is, as they say, “the way it was meant to be.”
When I first heard of the term “seasonal friendships,” I was perplexed by it, but I have come to love the accuracy of its double entendre. Like seasons, some friends are not meant to last forever. They last for one or two seasons of your life, then they end. But on the other end, some friendships continue as they change, like one season does to the next.
With my friendships that have ended, questions sometimes arise: was it even worth it? Why didn’t I try hard enough? Why didn’t they try hard enough? Did our friendship not mean as much to them?
But then I realize that the friend I had in college and beyond with whom I shared many corresponding activities, many late nights of studying and hanging out, laughter fits, deep secrets, valued places in our weddings — she was in my life for that season because her friendship was what I needed to accompany me through the chaos and amusement of college life and early marriage life. I learned more about who I was because of her. And that friend I had who walked with me through our miscarriage and encouraged me through the deep dark days was in my life for that season because she went through the same thing and understood, and her gentleness and compassion were what I needed to endure the long, dark months of grieving.
Just like the seasons, people change. We grow, we evolve depending on the situations we encounter. Our opinions on world events and our life morals change, and those changes shape us into new people. And sometimes, who we become doesn’t mesh with those people with whom we have friendships. So, like seasons, those friendships end.
But sometimes — sometimes — friendships lasts through seasons. And those are things of beauty. And friendships like the one I have with Hiyabel, I just know will endure the season of lifetime. And I am deeply grateful for that.
I’ve come to learn that some people are not supposed to be in our lives forever. And that’s okay. Just because these friendships end doesn’t mean that they were not valuable. I’ve grown during them, learned from them, and they helped shape who I am. I look forward to the many friendships I’ve made during this season of motherhood.