The day I first laid eyes on my best friend I……hated her.
She was prettier than I and at least as smart because she was in my “Alpha” classes. She had trendy button-fly Bongo jeans and beautiful high cheekbones with creamy skin. All of the 13-year-old boys sat up and took notice of HER…this new girl who came with barely six weeks of school left in the year. I loathed her and I concluded life was NOT fair. No person should be that pretty and smart—at least, not unless it was going to be me. This girl was on my bus to and from school and in virtually every class—it was torture, yet there was nothing at all off-putting about her and she seemed like a perfectly nice person. The skank.
My then-best friend moved up to high school the next year, leaving me alone in 7th grade with this new girl. I was (am) a naturally shy person and didn’t make friends terribly easily. I was friendly enough and people knew me, but I was quiet and I had strict parents and no after-school activities, so my social contact was limited to between classes and the school bus, basically. New girl was lonely, too, and somehow, Sandy got up the courage to come and talk to me, despite the hate-vibes I was throwing at her, and my life changed forever. It was very literally one of those moments in history where your life actually changes course and nothing is the same after it.
We became almost surgically joined the hip. People that knew us in our youth would always question where the other was if were weren’t together. When we were apart, we wrote long epistles to each other, signing the letters with hearts, BFFs and L.Y.L.A.S. (Love you like a sister, for those you not in the know). We spent hours on the phone every day, even after we spent hours with each other after school gorging on Little Debbies and ramen noodles, drooling over Sonny Corinthos on General Hospital, singing the songs to Grease, or crying over Beaches. We shared mix tapes, clothes, and sometimes even boyfriends. I cried so hard when we received opposite class schedules one year, my mom tried to appease me with a kitten. When her husband married her, I felt a surge of cold anger and jealousy like I have never felt before or since (I have since come to love him to tiny pieces). I know she doesn’t walk on water or anything, but I sometimes forget.
We don’t really have much in common, though. We never have. In fact, we are so polar opposite on most things that if one of us makes a 180-degree change in personality, the other does as well (subconsciously), so we remain polar opposites. It somehow works for us. In the beginning, she was the curvier one with nice hips and shapely legs and I was the skinny-minny with jutting hip bones and scarecrow legs; now she is quite thin and willowy and I am….er…voluptuous. She is a brunette, I am blonde. She dyes her hair any crazy color she wants, gets piercings and tattoos and I could easily pass for a modern-day Puritan. She was born on Halloween, I was born on Christmas (YES, the actual holidays). She is talented in almost anything she attempts and is a divine singer…I am mediocre (at best) with any activity, terrified of sports, have no rhythm, and lip sing unless I am at home or in the car (then I sing at the top of my lungs). She is a little out there and I almost always play it safe. She can laugh at herself and I am a crybaby. She is slightly crunchy and a health-conscious vegetarian; I could face plant into french fries if left to my own devices or subsist almost entirely on smoked meats.
She did go through this weird (for her, not weird in general, necessarily) period of being very conservative. She wore only long skirts, listened to only Christian music, and held up signs in front of abortion clinics–a Duggar, basically. While she was in that phase, I went through my wild-child phase of dating 3 guys at once. The tables turned again and we are back to our core selves.
I think we can agree that Jordan Catalano was super hot when he was younger but Brian Krakow grew up to be the sexier man (Yeah, no… changed my mind. If only Jared Leto would clean up, then he would win…she would agree), Mariah Carey could kick Celine Dion’s butt on and off the stage, and Diane Sawyer has an excellent shade of lipstick. We also devour books when we get alone time—though I tend to be more of the classical persuasion—love to garden despite brown thumbs, can scratch a living off a rock, and love to order our kids around because we can. “Because I said so” is the very best phrase ever once you are an adult.
I haven’t seen my girl in about 8 months, but I never worry about the time that elapses between our trysts. The love is always there and we always have each other in our prayers and hearts and I know that if I need her, she will always listen (and likewise). We live pretty far apart and have made new friends in our adulthood, but that bond is still there and we can always pick things up where we left off.
It amazes me that God puts the exact people you need in your life, whether you thought you needed them or not, whether you WANTED them or not. Sandy never had to talk to me and I never gave her a reason to, but God knew I needed her, and that she also needed a friend, so He opened her heart and opened my eyes. Christ showed His love for me through her. She loves me in spite of my shortcomings, even when I am mean. She calls me out on my crap. She celebrates with me when something good happens. She cries with me when my heart is broken. She gets a righteous anger when I am wronged. She protects me from people or things that would seek to hurt me. God only knows the person I would be now if I never met her. Whether she knows it or not, I thank Jesus every day for her and her friendship and that He loves me so much He finds more ways to show me through other people.
The more I think about the infinite ways God shows us love, it overwhelms me. It is even more beautiful somehow that He gives us infinite opportunities to walk in His footsteps and be just a little more like Him by allowing us to be channels of His love to others. Simple kind acts all the way up to great sacrifices…you just never know when a kind little gesture may lead to something bigger– in your life, someone else’s, or perhaps cause a chain reaction.
My sweet friend may not have known it at the time or have realized it since, but what her 13-year-old self did for the least of His brethren (me), she did also for Him, which gave not only she and I immeasurable joy, but caused a ripple effect. We both learned valuable lessons with our juvenile friendship that spilled into our other relationships and helped craft us into the people we are and how we treat others. As Mother Teresa once said, “Love is repaid by love alone.”