Jen, has been on my left for the past nine years of my life. We met freshman year of college. She was dressed in pink and came to college bouncing with optimism. I was reserved and cautious and came to college with organized boxes and labeled zip-lock baggies. We were next door neighbors, but not friends right away.
In many ways I can not imagine someone more different from myself. Jen and I are opposites on nearly every letter of the Myers Briggs. I tend to be a determined, make-it happen kind of person and she thrives on the spontaneity of you-never-know-what-could-happen-today?!? I live in a world of realism while she inhabits the realm of possibilities. But oddly enough I believe it’s these very differences that have marked our friendship with such depth.
Our friendship has not been easy by any stretch of the imagination, but it has been one of the greatest sources of joy in my life. We have sustained the distance of being separated in countries miles apart and also the distance created when silence and hurt fills the very room you share. We have been through boyfriends and break-ups, annoyances and anger, and lots and lots of long conversations. We have learned how to argue well and disagree. Most of our fights tend to happen in the kitchen. And our best conversations take place sitting in the car. And somehow from these things we have come out stronger.
Jen knows me better than most because she sees beyond the surface. She has seen me at highest highs and lowest lows. She has witnessed some of my best moments and successes, and she has sat with me in seasons of depression, pain and tears. Jen has been the friend who sees through all my crap and names what is true and real. She has hoped for me when I forgot how. And she has consistently and patiently reminded me of who I am and who I can be.
Jen has taught me:
1. The importance of asking for help and meaning it.
2. How to really listen to others, and that real listening means putting down the cell phone and computer.
3. About the joy of mystery and surprises.
4. That most people don’t multi-task while they watch a movie.
5. To be honest with how I am feeling. And not just name the feelings, but actually be ok sitting with them and god forbid, feeling them.
6. Sometimes Damn it! is the most appropriate response.
7. That it’s ok to make mistakes.
8. That compromising does not in fact mean manipulating a situation to get half my way, and half your way; Sometimes it actually means letting go of “my way” altogether.
9. The beauty of asking questions, and not always giving answers.
10. Sometimes “just for fun” is the only reason you need.
11. The value in sharing eggs.
12. That the simple words “me, too” are sometimes all a friend needs to hear.
13. How to enjoy the unknown (although I don’t know if I’ll ever really enjoy the unknown, but at least how to be okay, with the unknown)
14. That good communication means I can’t just think about things, but I actually have to verbalize them. Friends, even good friends are not mind readers. (I know one day my future husband will thank her for this one!)
15. That life is more fun when adventure, play, and laughter are involved.
16. That difference is good and NECESSARY in our churches, friendships, schools and society.
17. That it’s ok to wear short shorts sometimes.
18. The importance of giving good hugs and giving them often.
A lot of who I am toady is because of the influence of this incredibly wise, beautiful, and tender-hearted friend.
Happy Birthday, Jen, my forever friend and neighbor for life!
She will probably hate me for posting this picture, but this is us freshmen year of college (notice the pink : )