“You’ll be able to count the number of friends on one hand when you get older.” Grandma said to me one evening sitting in the living room. “You say that but I promise that won’t happen to me!” I giggled back to her. Then there was this little question of what if she is right. What if I end up having no friends!
Looking at the ceiling fan spin, I sat there and thought about all my friendships. I’m 18 years old and life is good, I told myself. I’m living with my grandma, I’m going to school, I go into work every night, I’m single and I can go out with my friends anytime I want. I have plenty of friends and more than 5! Deep down though, I knew something was missing. I couldn’t really pinpoint what it was. I mean my friends and I would meet for drinks after work and catch up, I played around with my co-workers during the shift. I thought that’s how friendships were suppose to be. Simple and if we connected, we connected.
Fast forward 3 years.
“Ashleigh, you are not the same person anymore.” Reagan said as we were at lunch one day. “You just seem I don’t know different. You don’t hang out with us anymore, you come in from work and leave to head over to your boyfriend’s. You’re not cheerful or happy anymore.” I just remember staring at her with tears in my eyes. Just a few days before, my family had a serious conversation with me about who I was dating at the time. My dad told me to sit down on the bed and my mom and sister were sitting there beside me. “Look Ash, were not telling you who to date but this relationship your in isn’t healthy. You have to see this?” My dad said firmly. Steph looked at me with concern, “I know you think I’m just your sister but I’m your friend too. I want what’s best for you and this, this is NOT it.” As the three of them continued to talk, I just felt empty inside. They had no idea what I was going through. They didn’t know the truth of what was happening in my relationship. Why couldn’t I talk to them I thought. Why didn’t I come to my sister or my best friends months ago when I knew I needed help getting out of this relationship. That’s what a friendship was right?? “You don’t get it!” I busted out crying. “Im scared. We fought the other night and he wouldn’t let me out the car. He was so mad because I wanted to hang out with Kayla, Zach and Reagan without him. Just to have some time with my friends.” Steph looked at me like any big sister would, “You have to make a choice Ash. We will always be your family and support you that will never change. But do you really want this boy to push everyone away from you?”
I wiped a tear away from my cheek and looked at Reagan and said, “You’re right. I’m not the same. I don’t spend time with my family at all. I never see you guys. He is always wanting me to be with him and his family. We fight ALL the time. So why I am sitting here feeling so empty?” I can still hear this conversation to this day. “Well you have to talk about what’s going on to your friends. If you don’t how will any of us know what in the hell is going on with you. Please don’t take this the wrong way but Kayla and I were talking and if you want to keep dating this guy, thats fine. We just don’t care anything for him and we really don’t want him in this apartment. He may seem sweet but controlling you and talking badly about us and your family just doesn’t work. I know you have been with him since your senior year but there is so much more out there!”
Then it happened. I finally stepped out of that relationship after 5 years. It wasn’t easy though. I went through a time of sadness and loneliness. It was BAD. One day, a friend told me about this church that was just so interesting called NewSpring. I had nothing else to lose so why not try it. I walked through the doors of this church and this feeling of joy came to me. I didn’t understand it but found my way to my seat. There the service started and the music played. I felt at peace for once. A peace I had never felt before.
The preacher stepped on to stage and guess what he preached on. Relationships. Not just dating but friendships. He said growing up I was always told you would be able to count your true friends one hand. I laughed to myself, thanks grandma for the head start. These friends are different though. They bring the good out in you, tell you how it is even if it hurts your feelings, their truthful, they offer an ear and a shoulder and they include you into their lives. I sat there thinking well crap I only have 3 good friends and my sister! I prayed that night in bed and said “Lord, I really don’t know what to say to you but here it is. I’m lost. I feel empty and I crave friendship. The type of friendship were we check on each other, raise one another up, tell it how it is and still have a friendship, laugh about life even when it’s pretty bad and celebrate the good. They say you’ll end up with only five good friends but I don’t believe that. So please place the RIGHT people in my life that are made for me and Im made for them lord. Oh yeah can you work on my future husband, whoever that is? Just someone who is sweet, patient and gets along with all my friends and family!”
As I sit here now and look back on my story and that one prayer. Its amazing! I have real, authentic, down to earth friendships. They have all came into my life in different seasons and some I’m closer than ever with and some I know I can call whenever I need them. I have my friends from when I was 9 years old, one who needed to room with us for a while and turned out to be like a sister to me. One who walked through similar seasons and never would have thought we would have become best friends until she wanted to do my hair. A new ADP bride that somehow just understood my corkiness and grammar issues and didn’t judge. A friend who was great at writing on boards and made my grandmas board for my home that turned into a friendship, a friend who asked me to second shoot with her for a wedding and now is someone who I can talk to about anything. I have friends I have made through my sister and some friendships are from past relationships that I connected with and love them like family.
So when I feel like doubting God and asking why and I just have to remember he is putting people in my life that I never would have thought about for a bigger reason!