When You Bring Nothing

It’s been a couple of months now since I got the chance to head down to San Diego to see my friend Esther. When I went to see her, I was sick. Very sick. We had planned the trip for a while and we were really looking forward to getting to see each other. The night before I left it occurred to me that flying (gah) at 6 am (double gah) whilst nursing an achey-fevery-cold-and-cough might not be the best idea…but alas, I couldn’t face canceling the flight and flushing all that hard-earned money down the drain so off I went to San Diego against my better judgment.

I was down there for just over 24 hours. Just long enough to remind me what good friends I have.

You see, sometimes I’m still shocked by the benefits of deep, lasting friendships. I used to be the kind of girl who would move on from friend to friend, often having a different best friend with each new school year. A few times I fought with my friends, but usually there was no big event, no falling out. I just moved on. The “honeymoon” period ended, I found someone who I had more fun with, found more interesting, or (very sadly) helped my social status a bit more. So I would transfer my affections and pursue my newfound friendship with the same passion and excitement as the last —  until the new became old and it was time to find someone new.

I can’t say exactly why I did this. I think part of it was just that I get bored when things become monotonous and I start thirsting for some change, some excitement. It’s why I like to move around furniture every once in a while. I think part of it is that I used to be really afraid of being known. I felt like if I was friends with someone for long enough they would see the ugly parts of me. They’d see what a loser I am, or get sick of my antics, or they would see past the fun, happy facade and grow tired and talking in circles with me. So I moved on before they could grow tired of me. And sometimes, I think I grew tired of them (which is why I feared they would do the same with me).

And you know what? I really envied people who had best friends since kindergarten. I really wanted that kind of lasting friendship, but I didn’t want to put forth the effort to actually have one. So I kept that habit until I met one friend who wouldn’t let me move on to someone else.

Esther has taught me a different type of friendship. She’s taught me what it’s like to have a friend who has seen all the muck in you and loves you anyways. And through that I’ve learned the value of being known, the security of being loved by someone whose seen all your flaws and chooses to love you anyways, the comfort that comes with a friendship that doesn’t require you to earn approval or acceptance.

I wish I could explain the difference. But I can’t, so I’ll try to describe why this weekend in particular made me appreciate our friendship so much.

Esther picked me up from the Long Beach airport at 7 am on Friday and I could barely talk my voice was so hoarse. I had barely eaten anything for a few days so she asked me what I felt hungry for until something sounded appealing — bagels. Then, we went to the grocery store where we picked up a few DVDs from the Redbox & Esther insisted on buying us (really, it was for me) fresh fruit, chicken noodle soup, rice, and cough drops. When we got home she let me sleep for 6 hours straight. Then we laid down and watched movies for what was left of the day. When dinner time came, Esther asked if I wanted Thai takeout or giant pizza until she decided we should get both. So we did. A little while after our appetizer of pad-see-ew, our friend Ben showed up. The four of us played Nertz, went and got some fro-yo, then came home and tried to watch another movie. I say tried to watch because Esther and Ben fell asleep as soon as we turned the movie on.

Saturday I woke up and felt terrible again. Possibly even worse than Friday. I took a shower to get some steam in my lungs and played Nertz with Ben while we waited for Esther & Rick to come downstairs. Then the four of us went to breakfast at Mozy’s in San Diego and sung aloud to some of our favorite songs on the ride back to White Papa’s (Rick’s grandpa’s house in San Diego). I had promised Esther that we could go house shopping while I was down there, but I had to renig on our deal. I knew I couldn’t stand up and walk around the whole day. So Esther was very understanding and we compromised on going to the Rainbow’s outlet in San Clemente instead. I slept the whole ride there. At the outlet my energy was fading quickly, so we got our shoes and headed back down to the San Diego airport.

To the average person, the weekend was downright boring. And that’s what made me so sad when I left. It’s not every day that you find friends who want to be with you even when you are coughing, sniffling, quiet, and unexciting. It’s one thing to have people in your life who can love you on your best days. It’s exciting when you meet someone who everything seems to click with and you are on your A-game, cracking your best jokes, coming up with your most hilarious come-backs. But no one can be on their A-game forever. It’s a whole different ball game to have people in your life who love you when the only thing you have to bring to the table is, well, nothing.

I can’t describe how thankful I am to have friends like Esther. I say “friends” plural because she’s not the only one. God has put more than a few people in my life who are astoundingly kind, loving, selfless, patient, and sacrificial.

I can only hope that one day I will be the kind of friend that they have been to me.

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