The Best Kind of Friend to Have


I’m a friendly person. I typically don’t have issues making friends. I can usually walk into a room and find someone I can talk to quickly without being overly awkward. I’d consider myself lucky in that regard. Even then, friendships are still hard. Childhood left me with somewhat of a bitter taste in my mouth about female friendships. I had one close friend, in particular, that my dad really disliked. She wasn’t a bad person. She could often be bratty and demeaning, and I didn’t yet value myself enough to stand up to her strong words. At that age, I was still in the learning stage.

I remember when I was in 7th grade, she and I had gone to the lake with her parents, and I wore a bikini – the one and only bikini I’ve ever owned in my life, actually. I wasn’t heavy, but I had finally hit puberty, so adolescence was rearing its awkward face. {Heck, I’d kill to look like that now. Funny how life changes that way.} She was rail-thin, without a curve in sight. At that age and level of maturity, that was the body type you wanted because it felt more acceptable. I remember walking outside and her saying that I didn’t really have the body type to be wearing that and told me to hold my stomach in. Ouch. Almost 30 years later, I can still hear those words that sliced me and set me on a path of hating my body. It’s taken a long time to say I love the way I look and accept the body God blessed me with. It also took me a long time to realize when you have friends like that, who needs enemies?

As an adult, I have made some incredible friendships. At Lubbock Christian University, I learned what real friendship meant. I hit the jackpot with a lifetime of memories, laughter, and bonding that has lasted me well into the present. Of course, I met some bad apples along the way. That’s life, but I think because I have grown into the woman I am now, I have learned that just because you were introduced to them and they’re around you at work, at church, or whatever circle you’re in, doesn’t mean you have to bare your soul or that you should. Boundaries are good. Your innermost secrets are not intended for everyone.

I heard Brene Brown say in an interview once with Oprah that if you have one friend that can sit with you in your shame story, you’re lucky. If you have two or three, you’ve hit the jackpot. The problem is sometimes we tend to bypass those friends who will show up every time for us so that we can impress the ten others who would never be there if we needed them. Those are not your people.

I met Sheila in college through our older siblings. It was customary at our small school that if siblings were friends, then you already had your first built-in crew. Only I didn’t think I really liked her. She was super quiet and had a “know it all” look about her – she was a bit aloof. I was loud, obnoxious, typically skirting around the rules and always on the prowl for fun. I was equal parts “know it all” too, just in different ways. I am honestly not sure how we even ended up hanging out in the first place on a more intimate level, but somehow, we did. She found me entertaining because I was half nuts, and I found her reassuring because she was reliable and stable. The following year, she was the Residential Assistant for our hall because she was so responsible (a.k.a. “boring”). She was everything I was not aiming to be. I was enjoying my path.

So how did these two unlikely friends become so close? They realized they had more in common than they initially thought. I’m also partly convinced it was just a miracle in the modern world because I really don’t know how she put up with my shenanigans. If you ask her, I think she saw in me what I couldn’t see in myself. She provided the peace of mind I was looking for.

Here we are 22 years later, and she’s my person. We have been together through divorces, remarriages, adoptions, infertility, miscarriages, big moves across the country, and mental breakdowns. I’ve learned that she’s not so much my best friend, but the best kind of friend to have. There’s a difference. You can throw out the term “best friend” too quickly. Best friend, while an excellent title, just shows the world you’re closer to that person that a regular friend. Having a friend who is the best kind of friend signifies something different for me. It’s the kind of friend who calls you on your crap. It’s the friend who has the tough conversations with you and asks the hard questions. It’s the friend who knows you’re not okay and can sit in the dark with you. It’s the friends that know they can’t change what’s going on for you as but know they can count on you to show up. It’s the friend who doesn’t think you’re weird for your big dreams and aspirations and instead dreams big with you. It’s the person who says, “Hey, I think maybe you need to go counseling.”

I hit the jackpot for sure. It has not been without effort that Sheila and I have remained friends. When life gets so busy because of jobs and families, its tough to make friendships a priority. For me, our friendship is life. You need a person to check in with or also check out with. Someone to laugh with when life gets way too serious, and you need to get away. Someone to celebrate big and small things with you.

She truly is the best kind of friend to have. We’ve both seen each other at our best and worst times. She makes me want to be a better person, and she inspires me to do greater things. She sees something in me that I never saw in myself, and the beautiful thing is that I do those things for her as well. We are both lifted up by our relationship.

How do you find that kind of friend? I can’t answer that with complete certainty because I believe some people are brought into your life by fate. Not all those people need to stay, either. You can choose. For the ones who are your people, be the kind of friend you would want in your life. Show up the way you would want them to show up for you. History and experiences strengthen friendships. And y’all, life is hard. We need our people. We need those friends who will be there through thick and thin. I don’t think I could be more grateful for my friend. She truly is the best kind of friend to have.