Growing up, I was often alone. I was close with my siblings, but at school, and sometimes even at home, I chose solitary pursuits. I was shy, an observer rather than a participator, and I was most often accompanied by a book. As I grew up, I became more aware of the difference between being alone and being lonely. I realized it was strange, in other people's opinions, that I spent so much time alone. I became self-conscious of it. And I sometimes felt lonely.
As an adult, I still relish alone time. I feel restored and refreshed by stillness and quiet. I've learned, too, that much of my solitariness as a child was less of a preference and more of a defense mechanism. Relearning that defense mechanism, by running towards people instead of away from them, has changed my life. I do not say that lightly.
While I miss many people right now, and adore many friends, there is one group of ladies that inspired this poem.
We've been meeting regularly for 4.5 years, first, as part of a church small group, and then as friends who have intentionally prioritized each other; we've met at least once a month, most often twice, for years.
Those years have seen the ups and downs of our lives, shared honestly and humbly with one another. We've carried each others' pain, mourned each others losses, cheered for each other during challenging times, and celebrated joys. Partially because of the depth and richness of these friendships, and partially because of how regularly we have met for so long, the absence of those meetings over the past few months has been particularly difficult.
These women are gifts. I thank God for them. Friendship as not only a gift from God but an imperative from Him as well. I balance my love of quiet, alone time (it hasn't gone away!) with devoted friendship.
Tend to your friendship gardens. Do not be afraid to kneel in the dirt, to plant new seeds, to clear weeds, and to revel in the beauty of what it produces.