I’m a really terrible friend. Truly, I am, but I don’t mean to be. I love my friends so very dearly, and I would like to think that I do an excellent job of expressing my appreciation, but I know better.
In reality, I have forgotten to return so many calls that Ryan and Thomas probably think I must have dropped my cell phone in a swamp again. Chris just gets a “Hey! How the heck are ya??” text from me about once every month or two. I’m certain Alex and Emma think I’ve fallen off the face of the earth since I left Ball State. Kelsey, my Ball State roommate, and I talked more frequently when she was in Spain than we have since she got back. And Shane, my Canadian pen pal of five years, hasn’t received a letter from me since before Christmas.
Oh, and I’ve owed Paul dinner since last October or something like that.
But I have a feeling this friendship neglect isn’t half as bad as my abuse of the friends I do actually talk to on a regular basis. I wonder exactly how long ago Sabra got sick of listening to me and comforting me and counseling me regarding my various and sundry relationship woes of the past eight years. Probably about seven years ago, when we were head-over-heels for the same guy. And I wonder why Michael even still talks to me considering my track record of using him to get the inside scoop on his friends and my more recent history of only communicating with him to whine about the messes he warned me not to make in my life.
Yesterday I apologized to Michael for being such a selfish friend, especially when there are really big things going on in his world too. But as he does with every apology, he just told me to quit saying I’m sorry for things. He said it was unnecessary. At first I just thought that apologies freak him out (and I do think that apologies freak you out, Michael), but then that got me thinking that maybe he was serious. Maybe he really doesn’t mind all that much that I’m such a bad friend. Maybe he knows that I would do the same for him. And I mean I really would do the same for him, unbegrudgingly, because he is one of my dearest friends.
But Michael isn’t the only one I’ve noticed being so selfless in friendship. Sabra could have hated me for falling for her dream boy in 9th grade. And she could have kicked me to the curb just about any day of the week since then for a hundred other offenses. But she hasn’t. And I’m sure she would be the first to tell you that she’s abused me too. I guess we just aren’t keeping score. We’re just happy to be friends, even when that means being accomodating of each other’s faults.
Maybe some unmalicious abuse is characteristic of real friendship. I would never knowingly or willingly subject my friends to anything like that, but we’re imperfect creatures. We mess up, and my unfortunate experience has been that sometimes we mess up at our friends’ expense. But maybe that sort of mutual tolerance and steadfast forgiveness is the simplest, purest, and most everyday form of grace. It’s just a theory. I don’t know.
All I know is that because of the lives, laughter, tears, shoulders, hankies, hugs, kisses, counsel, encouragement, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, grace, and love of my friends, I am one blessed girl.
For Ryan, Thomas, Chris, Alex, Emma, Kelsey, Shane, Paul, Sabra, Michael, and all of my most abused and beloved friends.