After dropping my girls off for school, I turned the corner in my neighborhood and was met with a picture of me. Not a good picture of me. But a blown up, bigger than life picture of me as “Brusher of the Month.”
Me. As an awkward teenager. With braces on my teeth!
Someone was going to die!
How is it that my high school brace face picture ended up – blown up – on a traffic caution barricade at the end of a busy street in a busy neighborhood?
Friendship. That is how!
You see, I got braces much later than all of my peers. Most of my peers had beautiful, straight, white teeth when they started high school.
I did not.
I had crooked teeth. That needed braces. But I couldn’t get braces until my bones quit growing.
It’s a long story, but as most of the “cute blondes” were getting their braces off, I was getting mine on.
But I was so glad! I had waited a LONG time for straight teeth.
So when the orthodontist blew up my picture and posted it as “Brusher of the Month” in his office, I was proud.
A few months later, when I had major oral surgery that required my mouth to be wired shut I was a bit mopey because I couldn’t talk very well – and I liked to talk. A friend “borrowed” the picture from the orthodontist and posted it above my locker at school. My lack of ability to communicate probably saved a life or two that day!
I took the oversized brace face picture home with me. (Don’t ask me why I kept it, but I did.)
Years later, when a friend of mine was going through a difficult time, I took the horrible, life-sized photo of me and reconnaissanced into her backyard well after she went to bed – I was grateful that she possessed neither a Chihuahua nor a gun – and taped my lovely (not so lovely face) to her kitchen window. I knew my friend woke at the crack of dawn and opened that window to start her day.
Imagine the shock – and, of course, delight to see my brace face smile to greet her the next morning! I don’t really think it was my face that made my friend feel loved. I think it was the fact I thought of her, thought of a way to brighten her day, grabbed a smiley, embarrassing, bigger-than-life-face of myself, trekked across our town, snuck into her back yard – risking my very life – and taped my face to her window.
(By the way, Husband, did you know I did this?)
When I turned a certain Big Something – O, my friend took the same picture and placed it in a place I would feel loved – or at least I would feel recognized. (Actually, I did feel loved.)
I had another friend who was having a hard time. I saw her weeding her flowerbeds in the heat of the day.
I knew something was wrong because people don’t weed their flowerbeds in the Texas heat unless something is really wrong.
I called her name. She looked up. I motioned for her to come towards me. She did.
When she got to my driveway I could see the tension in her face and knew she was very troubled. As she shared a little of her frustration, concern and worry, I casually guided her up my driveway.
“I know just what you need! And it’s much better than weeding in this heat.”
“What is that?” she asked.
“Follow me.” And I turned and headed to the backyard. I stopped on the side of the pool.
She looked very puzzled.
“Jump!” I said as I jumped into the pool.
When I surfaced, I said, “jump” again. She started to tell me that she was fully clothed and couldn’t.
“I’m fully dressed too. Now, jump!”
She hesitated half a second and then lunged into the pool – denim dress and all!
When she surfaced she said, “That was great!”
We continued to talk about her situation as we floated in the pool – completely clothed in the middle of the day. Somehow, the silliness of our escapade gave levity and a bit of perspective.
In life, we need friends. Friends that will laugh with us and cry with us. Friends who will do little – and big things – to remind us we are not alone.
I am thankful for my friends. For my relatives who are friends. For parents who are friends. For a husband who has been my best friend for over thirty years.
Friendships. We all need them. Real friendships.
Friends come and friends go,
but a true friend sticks by you like family.
~ For some, true friends stick closer than family…
Don’t leave your friends or your parents’ friends
And run home to your family when things get rough;
Better a nearby friend than a distant family.
Proverbs 27: 10
~ Since I haven’t lived in the same town with family, I had to rely on friends. That sort of a bond is a tight one.
You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another.
~ It isn’t always pleasant but I appreciate the friends who challenge me in my wrong thinking. The ones who laugh when I am in a tizzy. The ones who tell me to “just stop it!” The ones who remind me to pray about everything and stop talking about it.
By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst.
~ Yes! And Amen! Thank you, Lord, for friends – whether stranger-friends, life-long friends, or family friends.
Now, go be a friend ~ and get a friend.
Tell me about a time when a friend was there for you and how.