Truest of True

Published November 16, 2012 by Ashley Townsend

I was making a PB&J the other day (peanut butter is, perhaps, my most favorite inspiration treat on the planet, next to chocolate and coffee, of course) and thought about the fact that a jam sandwich would not be the same—a blah-blah-& J is just not as catchy. And somehow my lunch made me think of the friendships in my life. For a while now, I have wanted to talk about this one friendship that fell apart years ago, but something else always seemed to come up instead. Well, you can thank my lunch for today’s post! I told you peanut butter is magical and awe-inspiring.

I met this one friend thirteen years ago in Sunday school. She and I clicked instantly, which seems so much simpler when you’re eight, but not always so easy for an introvert like I was (my friends who read this probably just fell off their chairs laughing, but I was!). After day one, we did just about everything together; she would call me with anything, and I knew I could always speak my mind. We were totally inseparable, and I thought it was the prefect friendship that would never end, even when we moved from Colorado Springs back to San Diego. I mean, we had been so close for so long that I assumed there was no way a thousand miles could erode our friendship.

We kept up on the phone every weekend, and it was like we were never apart (the cell phone bill was evidence of that). But about a year into our separation I could tell she was changing, and looking back I realize that I changed a lot during that time, too. At first, I didn’t think much of it—there were just a few things that she said that had me concerned—but then I got really worried over what I suspected she was doing and was no longer able to pretend that she was the same friend I had known all those years. And that was really upsetting to realize that we were drifting apart faster than I thought possible; I was witnessing her falling into dangerous boys, partying, and AA and was powerless to do anything to stop it. I blamed myself for not being there for her when she needed me the most and imagined that if I were still by her side, then surely I could have saved her—I could have steered her away from drugs and the downward spiral if only I hadn’t been blinded for so long, choosing to see what I wanted. I still tried to be her friend and stick with her in the hard times, sure she would find her way back and that our friendship would resume. I just had to keep being her friend, even as she pulled away. My illusions were shattered weeks after our final conversation when I called her and her cell phone battery died twelve seconds in. She never called back.

It took me about a month after that—after two years of blaming myself for letting her fall because I wasn’t there—before I began to wonder if I wouldn’t have pulled her out of the mire at all. Maybe I would have gone down that same slippery slope if we had been as inseparable during her years of experimentation as we once were. That was kind of a startling thought, and I hate to think that I could be so easily misled, and maybe I wouldn’t have, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I might have dodged a bullet by moving when I did. By now you’re probably wondering what this has to do with peanut butter and jelly. Well, I learned a lot from our falling out, though it was one of the most painful lessons I’ve ever gone through. I discovered that I can’t save everyone, no matter how hard I push and try to pull them back up. There comes a point when you can do nothing more and have to give them up to God. It took me a long time to get past the sadness of a ruined friendship that I had put my heart and soul into and even longer before I realized I had to stop acting like I could still save her and needed to give her up to God. It’s not an easy thing to give up control; it pretty much goes against everything we are. But she’s safer in His hands than she could ever be in mine.

I never stopped praying for her, and I haven’t regretted that friendship for a moment. It was a hard lesson, but it made me realize who my true friends are and the kind of friend I want to be. I’m reminded of my blessings every time I FaceTime for hours with my bestie of 20 years, Rebekah, who never ceases to make me smile and thank God that He thought to bring her into my life. Thanks for sharing one of the greatest friendships of all time with me. Smooches! And the other week when I spent two hours on the phone with my Olivia—the most amazing and crazy-awesome person I have ever met and the only one whom I have ever clicked with instantly—I finally realized that God gave me her friendship at the perfect time, just two weeks after the falling out. How’s that for a God-Thing? Whenever I think about the relationships that have come and gone, it makes me all the more grateful for the friends who have stuck by my side, no matter what. They’re amazing and are the very thing that keeps me together, kind of like peanut butter! (Told you I was going to tie it in) They’re the tasty glue in my jelly sandwich, which would be quite dull and lifeless without it. True friends will stick by your side, and sometimes it takes what I viewed as a tragedy to show just who those special, loyal friends really are—the people you hold in your heart wherever you go. 

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