Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Precious confidant: Sunflower seed bread and pizza.

Over the years I’ve learned the hard way how important it is to have friends that you can trust.  I’ve been stabbed in the back, dropped like a hot potato and deserted for size two’s enough times to write an award winning novel on teen angst. But, while I could write about all the unkind people I’ve met…for now I’d like to focus on a different kind of person…

She was sitting at the end of the long cafeteria table, picking at the piece of pizza that sat in front of her. She seemed shy and barely said a word as the girls around her chattered away about boys and class. I dreaded sitting down at the table as I looked at it from a distance. I knew I would get stuck sitting in the seat across from the shy girl. It always felt like such a chore to strike up conversation with someone who didn’t seem to have anything to say.

Slowly, but surely, I was led to the table [that would, eventually, become my comfort zone] and just as I had predicted, was instructed to sit across from this silent observer. Her big brown eyes looked at me, as she smiled.

I hadn’t anticipated such warmth.

“Katey, you and Carrie will get along great! She’s from Florida too!” one of the girls shouted to me from the other end of the table.

I faked a smile, and nodded as if this made me feel more at home…all the while thinking to myself ‘How many times do I have to say I’m not from Florida…I moved from Florida, but I am not from Florida. Is it really that hard to listen for five seconds?’

With this angst-ridden thought buzzing through my ‘new girl’ brain, I had missed the moment at which the shy girl, apparently a girl named Carrie, perked up.

‘You’re from Florida! Where did you live in Florida? Did you shop at Publix? I love their sunflower bread!’

I almost screamed.

Erie, Pennsylvania. A once booming industrial city, currently comprised of the most beautiful abandoned old factories, was in that moment my new ‘home’. My father had gotten a new job in the middle of my junior year of high school. So, I made the leap and transferred schools, in hopes of making friends before my senior year. It was either that, or moving up for my senior year without knowing anyone. Though painful to leave my theatre department, friends, memories [regardless of how painful or messy] and more importantly leaving my mother…I knew it was a wise risk to transfer early. I knew the Lord would give me the courage and strength to start new.

Not to mention, I was a little excited to meet new cute guys.

BUT, BREAD?! Really? Bread? My first conversation was going to be about bread?

I stared at her, and sort of fake smiled. I was appalled, a little annoyed…homesick as hell. I couldn’t stop thinking that there was no way this girl and I would ever be friends...

A week went by. Every day I sat at the table. Every day I got stuck across the table from her. Every day she ate pizza. I soon learned all she ever ate was pizza. Growing up in a household of ‘Organic’ and ‘NO MICROWAVES’ and ‘Vitamins! Minerals! Herbs! Oh my!’…the idea of a person eating pizza every day seemed foreign and a little weird.

I wasn’t being judgmental! I simply knew what worked well for me and what didn’t.

And she didn’t.

I mean…granted, I wasn’t super healthy, but her life was drastically different from mine. She was different from me.

We could never be friends.

Two weeks later. I was beginning to meet people, but there was a piece of my heart that felt empty. The snow was driving me crazy, the gray skies were depressing and I just wanted to be back in sunny Florida! I missed the smell of warmth, of the Gulf. I missed my stunning theatre, the stage that I had laid on so many times, staring into the lights as I dreamt of my future.

Conversations of bread, snowy weather for two months straight and the shy girl had not been what I had in mind when I planned my move.

But life is never exactly how we plan it, is it?

I concealed my heartache with my smile, and I thought eventually the cool kids would realize I was worthy of a little attention. But as we’ve already established, things never go exactly as we plan…And so, instead of being noticed by who I thought would make me feel significant, the shy girl invited me out to the art museum.

[Which I later came to understand was incredibly out of character for her to invite anyone out. Funny how God’s will moves us to do things so completely outside of ourselves.]

But once again, after an afternoon with her away from our comfortable little cafeteria table…I was sure we should never be friends! I was loud and ridiculous and silly…she seemed put off and confused. She laughed, but she seemed uncomfortable and when we parted at the end of our outing…I couldn’t imagine her ever wanting to spend time alone with me.

 When God truly loves us, He does not give us what we want…but what we need.

This upcoming January, my best friend Carrie and I will have known one another for five years. Through the ups and the downs, the doubts, the fights, the tears, the obnoxious phone calls at three in the morning…we have become sisters. We have learned one another’s hearts and come to understand each other’s quirks. We don’t have to do much to have fun. Sometimes it involves baking, other times driving around aimlessly while chatting about boys…sometimes we come together in prayer. But what makes us work so well is our willingness to sacrifice for the other.

Yes, we still have differences. We disagree. We fight. We don’t talk for weeks at a time…but we’ve pushed one another to be the best that we can be. Our friendship has been a clear result of Christ’s work, because had either of us been in control…well, let’s just say I really didn’t have a lot to say about bread.

 But, I for one, know I would have been a lesser person for having let her go.

When God was screaming for me to see how wonderful she was, I was too blinded by my own immature judgment to recognize an honest heart. I am so thankful that she was open to His will, and never backed down when it came to being my friend. I am thankful that she came to visit me for my birthday this year, and made it yet another special memory. I am thankful that the Lord knows our hearts so much more than we do, because I can’t imagine living this life without my best friend, my sister in Christ…my confidant.

I love you, Carrie—who’d have thought that after all these years, I’d give anything to be in a room with you, eating pizza and talking about bread.

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