Friends Happen.

Everyday, Ponderings

It always amazes me how one meets friends. Sometimes you know the instant you meet that you’ll be thick as thieves. Others times, you’re laughing milk out your noses together and you stop and you think, “I think we’re friends now.” Most times, it just happens. There’s no transition, no growth stage, no schedule. You’re friends and that’s all you need to know.

People say you can’t pick your friends and that’s only partly true. I’ve made a lot of new friends over the past six months. Some, I sought out. Others practically knocked down my door. I think that friendship is a desire to walk through life with someone. You don’t have to have everything in common. You don’t have to be from the same background. You don’t even have to like the same things. You must simply both have the shared desire to help each other grow into better people. And the willingness to get dragged through mud together. Thick, sticky, warm mud.

In the end, God made us to be in community with other people. And this was a lesson that was hard for me to learn. My nature is to hide up in my tower and close myself off to the world. Partly because I don’t like to be vulnerable, but mostly because it’s just easier to be alone. I used to think that I could do it all by myself. I had friends, of course, but I saw them as accessories, like something you were supposed to have. Now I know that they are something we, as humans, need.

Throughout my life, I’ve had friends come and go. There have been fights and misunderstandings and laughs and embarrassing homemade videos. Although some friendships ended in heartbreak and despair, I choose to believe that I’ve learned something from every one of them, whether that be about relationships in general or about myself. Really, I think friendships, true friendships, are God’s way of showing us glimpses of himself.

Why Everyone Should Have A Pen-Pal

Lists

My first experience with a pen pal was in my elementary school years through a program set up by the amazing people at American Girl–don’t try looking it up, they discontinued the program several years later, probably because they had yet to discover the art of pen-pal background checks. Anyway, I was paired with a lovely girl whose name and hometown I do not remember, but at the time I was stoked to be connected to her. We exchanged letters for about a year and I dreamed of the day we’d be able to meet in a Disney Channel Original Movie-type way.

However, my perfect pen-pal dreams were shattered when I received a letter that explained that she no longer had time for a pen-pal. Her reason? I would have taken parents’ divorce, Olympic training, cramming for the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee…anything but the answer she gave me: “I have too much homework.” My little heart was crushed. Fine. Whatever. I acted like I didn’t care, when in reality I was devastated.

10 years later, one of my friends was heading off to Hawaii for college (poor guy) and asked me if I wanted to be his pen-pal. The bitter little girl inside me winced. Pen-pals? But don’t we have Facebook and emails for that sort of thing? I decided to give it a chance and maybe, just maybe, redeem my failed childhood experience. Best decision ever.

Why Everyone Should Have A Pen-Pal:

1. You get real mail.

In the pre-Internet world it was SO cool to get a letter in the mail. I remember waiting for the postman and praying that he would have something for me. It’s like finding an extra gift under the Christmas tree with your name on it.

2. Good things are worth waiting for.

Forget instant messaging, Facebook chat, and Twitter. Being a pen-pal takes a lot of patience. Not only do you have to wait for your letter to get to your pal, but then you have to wait for them to send a letter back. Even if the postman will brave wind, sleet, snow, and hail, it will still take a good week for you to get a response. But it’s a great surprise when it finally does come and you get to rip open the envelope and read what’s inside–a lot can happen in a week!

3. Exercise your brain.

This being the modern world, my friend and I are friends on Facebook and follow each other on Twitter–he even reads this blog! So I have to think twice as hard about what I’m going to write about since he basically knows everything I’ve been up to (well, everything worthy of posting to the inter-webs anyway). That always makes for some fun letter-writing because you’ve gotten all the surface-level stuff out of the way and you can get to what’s really bothering you, like world hunger or turtle necks.

4. One word: Stationary.

I absolutely love stationary. Oftentimes I’ll roam through stores like PaperSource and Papyrus just to look at all the beautiful cards. But, I’ve never had the need to purchase any. Until now, that is! It’s fun to spend a good 30 minutes trying to cram a whole weeks worth of information into a pretty card and slip that sucker in the mail. I like to think I’m sending them on a tropical vacation. Aloha!

So maybe my dreams of pen-pal perfection didn’t come true when I was ten (I hope whats-her-name regrets losing a potential long-distance BFF), but I’ve definitely come to respect the pen-pal process. It’s been a great exercise to write letters again and actually put pen to paper–instead of pixels to screen. I’d suggest that everyone find themselves a friend who lives in a different state (or even just a different city) and try it out. Comment on this and let me know how it goes! Or maybe just write me…