Do you know any writers IRL? If you do, then it will hardly surprise you when I tell you that I have far more acquaintances than friends. Writers seem to be cut from a particular bolt of cloth that precludes a large number of deeply intimate relationships. We can manage one, two or possibly three, but by that point, our confidant cup runneth over. Don't ask me why this is the case. It just is. You can go ahead and regale me with as many stories of gregarious, überfriendly writers as you'd like ... I'll simply chalk it up to God sometimes deciding that His universe needs an anomaly--like a platypus--to keep us on our toes, and I'll move on.
Despite the fact that I am, indeed, one of these socially challenged writers, I do not live my life in a vacuum. Hardly. I am surrounded by people. All day. Every day. To the point of distraction, from time to time. As a matter of fact, I spend weeks every winter in hermit mode, filtering out the world and reorganizing my brain lest I melt from the sheer intrusiveness of it all. During this time, I write like mad. I read to my children from the books that make our mouths water with their all-encompassing plots. I encourage them to invent their own tales, and to share them with us. I read insatiably.
And I do not, as a rule, return phone calls within my usual 48 hours timeframe. Or emails either. As a matter of fact, I sort of ... disappear.
As you can imagine, this is more than a little off-putting to casual acquaintances. Those who do not know or understand me generally come to the conclusion that, while I seem like a with-it enough gal on the outside, I must be a bit touched in the head. After all, what kind of person maintains the general status quo of getting kids to AWANA every week and shows up for appointments, yet turns down any and all requests for playdates for three weeks running? And what's this her son is talking about? A live-action reenactment of Redwall during school time? Who allows such nonsense? A crazy woman, that's who.
While Hermit Season is a happy time for me and my family, I know it's crazy-making time for the people in my life who just plain wish I'd get over it, dump this whole writing notion and be a normal person. A couple of friends over the years have hinted at this. A select few have given voice to their frustrations with me and my distracted flights of fancy.
And then there's Benny.
I really don't know what God was thinking when he stitched our friendship together. On the outside, Benny and I have only a few marginal things in common. First of all, we do not pass the suburban "we should be best friends!" test. You know that test, right? The one where all of your kids line up perfectly, thereby giving everyone a playmate. Benny and I fail this one miserably; her eldest is a few months older than Logan, which leaves Jo and Atticus dangling in the wind. As a matter of fact, when we met in March of 2003, Benny was momma to just one little boy and I had three--two of whom were ji-normous at five and almost three, respectively. Everyone knows that moms of babies don't hook up with moms of school-age kids. It's just not done.
I'm almost 34. Benny is closing out her 20s.
Benny loves to host. I loathe it.
I love to cook, and I love to eat. Benny enjoys neither.
Benny is a new house person. I am an old house person.
The list goes on and on. Like I said, it's just not done.
But we did it. Not sure how or why, but we did.
I could tell you fabulous stories of all of the history we have shared in the years our families have been growing alongside each other. But frankly, there are too many stories to tell, and no time to tell them well. I think the pictures of our children-- 6 little boys like like stair steps and 2 girls like bookends-- are actually the stories of our lives. Crafts at kitchen tables. Babies in arms, carriers, strollers. Making cookies. Riding scooters. Playing in the pool. Birthday cakes. Couch time. Christmas Eve on the steps. If you share enough history with someone that you have a photographic tapestry together then, well, suffice it to say you are invested.
We're invested enough to ride out the hard times, too: the ones you purposefully don't record for posterity's sake. While I'd love to say that our friendship has been nothing but sunny afternoons at the zoo and fun times digging in the sand, you and I both know that God's gifts are made so much richer with the love and understanding that comes through seeing one another--and a relationship--through the times that make you want to throw your hands in the air in walk away. Some of those moments are so deeply shaming to me that I shudder to even remember them. Have you ever told your best friend, as she announces a pregnancy to you, that you just aren't in a place to be happy for her? Well, I have. Really--through hot tears and a lump in my throat. Thankfully, not only did the Lord value my transparent honesty, but Benny did, too. She absorbed the hurt and still managed to love me enough to let me witness the miracle of that baby being born.
Benny will freely admit that she misses me during my Hermit Season, but she takes it as part and parcel of who I am and waits it out. No judgement. No hurt feelings. No pressure. Just like I ride through her more emotional conundrums, Benny accepts that this, too shall pass. In the end, we both know, we'll be the better for having weathered the storms of life together ... just our little families clinging to the rock of the Lord.
I truly hope that you have a Benny in your life: someone who will take your kids at a moment's notice, who you could call at 3 a.m. and cry with, someone who loves you enough to tell you when you're being nuts and still lets you lick the batter from the spoon. If you don't have one then no, you cannot have mine. But because I think she has loads to share and because I know that you all will love her, too, I am happy to introduce her blog, Psalm 118:24. Please pop by and tell her hello. Maybe even tell her about your own best friend. And, hey, if you have an extra second ... tell her that MG says she's glad she has someone who speaks truth over her life.