Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Not Judging a Book by Its Cover

6 years ago I met her.

August 2007. She appeared where I worked.

This beautiful, long-legged, skinny, sophisticated, put-together, perfect body, great teeth, sweet smile, remarkable haired, funny-as-all-get-out, stylish, smart, biblically brilliant, delightful woman.

She had it all together.

And I was afraid of her.

I mean. She was so intimidating.

Everything about her was everything I wasn't.

When she arrived at our offices as a new employee, I remember baffling over my introduction of myself. I don't remember what I said, but I know I sounded and looked like a total dork.

As we worked two cubicles away from each other, I'd hear some of her conversations and her laugh. I'd see her all stylish and her cubicle so simply and elegantly decorated.

I'd wish I was her.

As the months wore on, we'd talk sometimes. We started having lunches with two other ladies in the same production area of our work. The four of us clicked together well. It made sense.

January 2008 came. I had gone through a ringer of tests and we were pretty sure it was Fibro. I forget if I had either just been officially diagnosed or if that came shortly after. Regardless, I sat down with these four ladies over lunch one day in a little Chinese restaurant nearby and announced to them, nervously, sweaty-palmed, barely breathing... that I was pretty sure I had Fibromyalgia. I was so scared they'd judge me or feel like it was in my head.

They did not.

I remember later that day I was still shaken. Wondering if I shouldn't have told them. That despite their encouragement, support, and prayers that day at lunch, that maybe in the end they'd simply drift away as my friends. {Like I've heard has happened to many others with Fibro.}

They did not.

Then this beautiful, perfect, intimidating-as-all-get-out woman shared with me that a relative of hers had this. And gave me some helpful tips. Things I hadn't thought of. Things I wasn't aware of.

Then she shared her own health story. Battling with issues her entire life. She opened up to me. She let me see her vulnerability.

That was the moment. Everything changed.

I haven't been the same person since.

We began hanging out. More. And more.

Lunches that began in sharing our story, became something deeper. A relationship forged on similar difficulties about pain and suffering, wrapped around the core of who we are. Deep laughter. Goofiness. Showing our humanity. Impactful conversations about Christ. Hope for our difficulties.

Being there for each other. Sharing time together outside of work. Developing a loving friendship. Meeting each other's husbands. Sharing our homes.

We helped them move. We hung out as couples. We clicked....

Two years later came.

She was pregnant and it was time to say goodbye from work. I was devastated. I had gotten so used to her. Every day. Sharing stories and laughter. Venting about life, work, and husbands. Crying together and laughing together. Every. single. day.

She was about to have a baby and I felt left behind.

No one really, truly ever came back to be my friend after a baby {or so it seemed in my mind at the time}. I didn't have one so what use did they really have for me?

I really couldn't see the light. The good side of any of this. But I was really happy for her and her husband. Their first baby. Another reason to be jealous of her. Married only a couple years and already moving on. What I wanted, yet still didn't have.

I wanted to be part of it with her, so badly. Just sure she didn't feel the same way.

We said goodbye at the office.

I sobbed after.

Four days later, their sweet, precious, cuddly little boy entered the world.

I got to see and hold him in the hospital. {Eeeee!!! SHE let ME visit her!}

I was astounded. I loved him instantaneously. I mean, really, really, really loved him. It was incredible. I felt so bonded with him. Still to this day, he's one of my favorite little buddies.

Offers for free babysitting and coming over with stuff anytime abounded.

So I babysat. And then again. And again. And again....

They opened their home to me time and time and time again.

And we found that suddenly, our friendship was even deeperWe grew in ways I didn't know was possible that side of one of us being a mom and the other still not.

I mean, really. We got close. She let me come alongside her and witness this mothering thing pretty closely. She didn't mind sharing with me all about motherhood. When I say all about it... I mean ALL. Up close and personal.

I loved every second of it. 

She became my go-to person for all parenting-type questions as I longed to be one and wanted to know all about it... just in case it still might ever happen. She was so gracious, so open, and I learned things I hadn't had a single clue about before.

A little over two years later, she had another one. And we grew deeper still as we shared more about parenting, as I loved this little one so much too.


Then it was my turn. 

I found out I was pregnant by using a test she'd given me and because I was just sure I'd used it wrong, I texted her a picture of the test before I even told my husband.

We started talking on the phone while hubby came a-runnin', we kinda freaked out together that this might really be happening, and the rest is history.

But we didn't get to really celebrate together as she was leaving two days later for a trip to see her family.

And then... the very toughest times in our friendship hit smack at the beginning of my pregnancy, and then again in the middle.

Tough battles. We didn't speak basically for 3 weeks. It was the pits.

Awful. Terrible. I thought we were done the first time. It was so hard. I didn't understand what was happening. I couldn't celebrate my pregnancy with her. The one who had shared so much of her joy with me, and I had no ability to share my joy with her.

It stunk. Majorly.

But showers of forgiveness, new communication, and lots of grace later... and we made it.

The second time it happened, it was worse. Horrible miscommunication. Things we were both feeling and going through that were at odds with each other and we didn't know. Hurt on both sides. Deep, deep hurt.

I fell apart in a way I didn't know was in me. I fired back. Selfishly. Stubbornly. Hurtfully. Regretfully. But I was protecting myself and my "rights".


Wow. I can't believe I did that. Me. To her. I love her. What was I thinking? Why did I suddenly matter more? Racking it up to pregnancy hormones still doesn't seem fair. It was a mess, I tell you. A terrible, confusing, hurtful, attacking, miscommunicating-on-both-sides mess.

I was in shambles. I was SO stressed out. I was at my wits end. I could barely contain myself. I was so freaking mad. I wanted to just go off at her. To lash out. Though she was ultimately being loving and trying to make amends, when she asked one more time about something, I completely lost it.

To my dying shame and deepest regret.

Seriously. One of the hardest/worst things I've ever gone through in adult friendships. I will always feel absolutely terrible about it.

I can't erase what happened. Neither can she.

But I can gratefully say that our friendship is so much deeper than any of that.

It's one of those situations you look back on and just shake your head at. We can't believe it happened, but we are stronger together because it did.

Beyond any argument we have, we are rock-solid, forever friends.

Because after we talked, really, really, really talked, we figured out how poorly we had communicated. So completely unintentionally, we both were assuming incorrect things about the other. And we were both super stressed and falling apart in ways we had no idea were happening, even beyond what we were doing to each other.

We were both pregnant. Hormonal. Stressed. And with our friendship hanging in the balance...

Forgiveness. Grace. Tears. Amends. Hugs. Compassion. Love. More forgiveness. Deep regret.

That's a real friend, you guys.

She could have said, Enough of you, I'm gone.

But she didn't.

And you know what? We both hate what happened, but our friendship is deeper and more whole now than ever before.

Because we went through the thick of it together.

Fighting for each other and for ourselves. To remain friends. To see each other through the thick and thin.


Then it was time for me to give birth. To finally have this baby we'd anticipated for so long.

Whenever I needed someone over the last 6 years when I longed for a baby but hubby didn't, or whenever I just wanted to cry or have someone to pray with... she was always there.

I couldn't really imagine not sharing this special delivery with her. So she joined us in Labor & Delivery on Thursday, June 20th.

In more ways than one, life will never be the same again.

It was pretty seamless. Having her there just made sense. She's helped us through the years, tears, hardships, and joys. We've gone through each other's ups and downs together. We went through the worst times we can imagine as friends. So why wouldn't we want her in there with us? This woman who has taught us so much and has helped me learn more about pregnancy and motherhood than I ever could have imagined?!


We are forever bonded for life in a way I can't even put into words. Her sacrifices and love for us are beyond full comprehension. She was a steady rock when we weren't sure what to do. She was an experienced light in the midst of hard times in that dark, ever-changing scenario.

She was an encouragement when the clouds of having a c-section were pouring in. She was amazing. Truly amazing. I can't even say just how much she meant to us that day.

The ways she served our families and us is something you just can never repay. The ways she helped walk me up and down the hall, massage my feet, give hubby a lunch break, helped me go to the bathroom {I mean, really. that's sacrifice people.}, rejoiced with me at the little stages of progress we did see, encouraged me with pre-written and pre-thought-out notecards that were super sweet & made me cry, rubbed my back, prayed with me, and read Scripture verses over me.

What a friend. What a sister.

I choke up as I write this because with all of this behind us, I can say without a doubt that she's one of the best people I've ever met. I love her with every bit of who I am. She's the sister I never had, the friend that goes above and beyond, truly we are attached at the heart.

She's family, really. Who else would you allow in to see your baby before actual family?! ;)

And yes... if you know me at all, you've guessed it by now.

This woman is Monica. 

My best friend. 

I don't use that term lightly.

I remember the best friends forever games of junior high and high school. Those of us who said that to each other but didn't necessarily mean it'd be forever {though to be honest, most of them are still my friends, gratefully!... thank you Facebook!}. I also know that we mean girl friends when using this term nowadays. We are speaking outside our family {spouses, mothers, sisters} and outside of God, truly the One who will always be the Best Friend anyone could ever have. But when we use this term, we speak of earthly, human, die-for-you, super close girl friendships.

That "perfect" woman I saw that first time in August of 2007 is only human. Imperfect. Saved by the grace of God. A dear, wonderful woman.

A friendship forged outside of "judging a book by its cover". I will always remember not to view people by the way they look.

She may have intimidated me, but now she graces me with her friendship constantly. 

That "perfection" I saw initially intimidated me. Seeing her humanity and frailness, mixed in with the still gorgeousness that does remain intimidating to some, has enabled me to love her in spite of her weaknesses. It reminds me to get to know people deeper before assuming we can't be friends because they are cool and I am soooo not.

I feel like I'm rambling. Because there aren't enough words on the planet to help her to know how she's truly impacted my life. How truly amazing she is.

I'm forever grateful to be her friend.

And now...

As she prepares to have her 3rd baby, I'm BEYOND STOKED for her. I've hit a level of excitement I never had before. Not only because it's her 1st girl, but also because now...

I get it. I understand. I've been there. We can truly relate.

I absolutely cannot wait to meet her baby girl.

Our friendship may be ever changing, but we are closer than ever. And I couldn't love any other girlfriend more. I am so blessed to call her my dearest friend.

I wish you could fully understand the depth of how much I love you. How truly grateful I am for you. How beautiful a woman you really are, inside and out. How very much people love you and admire you, and just aren't always sure how to act around you. I wish they could see what I see. I wish you could see what I see. Instead, let me just say thank you. For everything. Every moment, every memory, every cry, every prayer, every shout of joy, every falling-over-laughing minute, and every chicken walk.  
I will love you to the end, my dearest and best friend. 

1 comment:

Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect said...

This is beautiful. Both what you've written and how you've written it. I've been guilty of being intimidated by "perfect" women many times...I'll admit it, I'm a reverse snob! What a blessing that you were brave enough to see below the surface to the real person Monica is! I'll also admit that I don't have any friendships as strong as the one you've described here. I don't fight with my friends...I hate confrontation and I'm afraid we couldn't survive it...so I just don't fight. So hats off to you and Monica for fighting FOR each other even as you argued WITH each other! Thank you for sharing your story with us!