Okay, for the sake of consistency, I titled this post the way I have titled all of The Real Story entries, but this one is going to be a little different, and should really have been titled: Real Friendship.
There are people you are friends with - You hug them when you see them, you swap favorite movie and book stories, you have them over for meals or play dates, you clean the house before they come so they will be impressed and not judge you, you threaten the lives of your children if they aren't on their best behavior during the play date or meal, you take them dinner when they are sick or just had a baby, you laugh together about things, and you enjoy being part of their lives.
But then...then there are your FRIENDS - you rarely hug them when you see them (it's more like eye contact followed by a frazzled 'Hi' from across a room) you don't talk much about movies and books (because you know they don't have time to read or watch TV, and they know you don't either) You do NOT clean the house before they come over (and you know they won't judge you for the dirt) you threaten the lives of your children if they aren't on their best behavior (but you also know the kids will still be wild, and the friend will still love you) you take them a meal when they need it (but you also pick up their kids and take them back to your house so your friend can have some rest time, and you may or may not smuggle fattening goodies or alcoholic beverages into their meal basket) you laugh together about things (mostly inappropriate things) and you know you are a part of each other's lives even if you haven't seen, talked to, or spent time with them in weeks, months, or years.
Here are my top ten REAL facts about Real Friendship (in no particular order)
1. A real friend is the one you ask to check your teeth after a meal, and they gladly point out which teeth are housing chunks of herb chicken for all the world to see.
2. A real friend lies to you when you tell them you've gained weight and ask them if they noticed.
3. A real friend judges you for your high school music choices, and tells you about it, and you aren't offended. You just tell them you judge them for theirs too, and you both laugh.
4. A real friend gets mad at your husband when he does or says something that hurts your feelings, but she also reminds you that you LOVE that man and to figure out how to work it out.
5. A real friend frequently deletes all text conversations between the two of you, because if anyone else picked up their phone and read the messages, they would be horrified.
6. A real friend doesn't sugar coat their feelings. If they are crabby, they say mean things to you. If you are crabby, you snap at them. But you both know that you will still be friends the next day, and that your apology will be received and the incident forgiven.
7. A real friend is one who can be absent from your daily life for months and even years, but when you get the opportunity to spend time with them...it's like you were never apart.
8. A real friend doesn't have to call you on your crap. Just being around them makes you aware of it, and you admit it on your own without them having to say a word.
9. A real friend makes time for you in their lives, no matter how busy. And the other side of that is, a real friend isn't offended or insecure when you CAN'T make time for them in certain instances. They are there for you, and you are there for them, even if you cancel plans with each other multiple times in a row.
10. A real friend makes you want to be a better friend, Christian, spouse, parent, house-keeper, and all the rest...but they accept you when you are sub-standard versions of those things, and don't judge you for your below-par rating.
It takes work to become a REAL friend. It takes time. It takes a willingness to be vulnerable. It takes a deep, shared love for the Lord, and requires an honest appreciation of a few key things: chocolate, coffee, wine, shopping, appropriately placed curse words, Christmas music, texting, jewelry, family, and board games. (or at least half of the above list...I'm willing to bend on wine, Christmas music, and jewelry...the others will require some prayer.)
I am blessed to have a list of wonderful REAL friends in my life. If you don't have that, I'm truly sorry. Take a minute and examine my thoughts above, and then ask the Lord to give you the courage to BE a Real Friend, and to bless you with someone who will be one for you in return.
And, don't be afraid to let your friends know "If we are going to be friends, I'm going to need you to..."
You fill in the blank. I have finished that sentence with: 'learn to like coffee' 'watch and enjoy the Star Wars movies' 'read this book and love it' 'never say the word sensual to me, for any reason' and so many more...
The Real Story about friendship is: it takes time and courage and energy...and you won't regret it.