We looked ridiculous. One friend ran in front of me wearing white Michael Jackson-style gloves, 12-month-old footie pajamas flung around her neck like a scarf, managing to look graceful despite her strange accoutrements. Behind me, our other friend jogged even while mummified by the way she’d stuck her arms in her 5-year-old’s sweatshirt backwards, smiling even as her teeth chattered. Meanwhile, I was simultaneously using my new shirt as a scarf and chiding myself for wearing my cute boots on a day filled with ominous blizzard warnings.
Yet I couldn’t help but think that the moment represented the best and worst part of the day.
Worst: Realizing that the blizzard warning we were under was no doubt true, and that we were caught running through a parking lot in subzero weather without our jackets.
Best: Laughing in great whoops of laughter that stole my breath, freezing my lungs from the inside out; I couldn’t help but be grateful for the crazy loons whooping it up alongside me.
As a mother, I worry about my daughters. That they’ll love Jesus like we do. That they’ll be healthy and happy. That they’ll succeed in school and life, careers and family.
But I also worry that they’ll have good friends to come alongside them in the best and worst of times. Because I’ve learned that life takes on greater meaning when we share it with others. This isn’t rocket science, or even revolutionary — it is a simple truth. Life is just better with friends. Our moments of joy and happiness, yes. But also our burdens and sorrows. Our worries that we’re not good enough, smart enough, skilled enough, confident or pretty enough to measure up to this world’s expectations. Our struggles with parenting. Our marital concerns. Our times of transition and change. Our ups and downs with health issues, our grief over lost loved ones, our never-ending prayers that we will become ever wiser and more loving in our interactions with others.
I want my children to be good citizens and people and parents, yes — but I also want them to be good friends. The kind of friends who will offer to watch your children when you have the stomach flu and can’t walk up the stairs. The ones who bring you a meal when you have a newborn and no one in your house remembers what sleep feels like. The ones who cry with you at Caribou or talk for hours on the phone when your children are — finally! — asleep. The ones who know that you will save a special part of your heart for them if they unexpectedly bring you a small, skim, half-caff campfire mocha. The ones who tell you that you matter, that your friendship means something to them, that life is better with you by their side.
If you are a friend like that, thank you. If you are my friend, you have my enduring thanks. Life is simply better with you by my side.
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (MSG)