Lately I have been reflecting on the beauty of friendship. I have been blessed with incredible friends. I may not have a ton, but the ones whom I have been able to share life with are true, real, authentic friends; they are friendships with depth, with roots, with a foundation. Growing up friendships were hard for me. I related better to boys as I was raised with three older brothers; relating to girls was difficult for me. I struggled to have friendships with girls, and the friendships I did have with girls, were less than ideal. I spent most of my younger years in a circle of friends who made enemies seem more pleasant than friendship.
Looking back though, I see how God set the right people in my life at the right moments. Although elementary and middle school was extremely rough with friendships, high school opened doors to a friendship that has lasted a lifetime. This particular friendship is dearest to me, most meaningful, has the most depth and greatest story of restoration. It began 20 years ago when I was a freshman in high school (which I find hard to believe was that long ago). It was summer going into my freshman year, Courtney and I met at soccer tryouts. We had freshman English together as well, and just became best friends. Our friendship struggled throughout the next three years of high school due to us making other friends, taking different directions in athletics, boyfriends, etc. We stopped talking altogether following high school, for reasons I don’t even recall. The moment I hold dearest, the moment that is a reflection of the roots our friendship had developed despite the ups and down through school occurred when I was 19. She called me because she heard a few months back that I had a baby (at this time Zion was 6 months old). This call was out of the blue for me, for we had not spoken for over a year; she was asking if she could come by to visit me and meet Zion. When she arrived, she held Zion, then looked at me with tears saying “Tiani, I am so sorry. I don’t know what happened, but I know that I should have been there for you during your pregnancy and delivery. I was not a good friend, but I am asking that you forgive me and I can be there for you now.” From that moment on, we have walked our journeys of life together. We have laughed, cried, mourned losses, celebrated marriages, grieved divorces, celebrated births of my other who kids and recently of her beautiful son. We share our hopes, our dreams, our fears; we encourage each other; she is like a sister to me, she is my best friend and Auntie Coco to my kids. She knows me – all of me, the good, the bad, the ugly and I know all this of her.
The beauty in this friendship, is the forgiveness we have given each other, the laughter, the support, the encouragement and most of all the years of memories. I am thankful that my life was blessed with Courtney; that I have gotten to learn how to forgive and be forgiven through her friendship. I thankful that I have been blessed with a friend who loves unconditionally and I in return can love her the same; I am blessed that I have a friend with 20 years of memories, and many more to come, that we can share with our kids, that we can laugh over and share with those in our lives who matter to us. I am blessed to have this friendship that has deep roots, and has withstood whatever life has thrown at us and it has only made the friendship stronger.
During my three years of living in Montana, I was blessed with a lovely friend, Dori. I met her when working at a physical therapy clinic, as she was the employee to train me in my position. I was six months pregnant with Aysa, and just feeling lost and discouraged. I never had to say a word to her about these feelings, she just knew what I felt. Each day, I would come to work with a beautifully written bible verse on my desk that just ministered right to my heart. Dori is the embodiment of a woman who wears the essence of Jesus. She loves with an abundance, she is graceful, forgiving, encouraging and always clinging to His truth. She took time to love on me; to just remind me who I am; that He loves me even though I made the choices I made to be a single mom of two; that no mistake is too great for Him to love me or forgive me. She encouraged me when I left Montana and was in Oklahoma struggling in my marriage. We don’t see each other much, just once a year when I travel to Missoula for a summer vacation, but every time I see her, it’s like no time has passed. Dori’s friendship is such a reflection of unconditional love and acceptance. I see it in how she loves her family, her husband, her kids and how she reached out, accepting me as a young, lost, pregnant, single mom. She never judged me, instead she embraced me, she poured into me, she ministered to me and chose to be His hands and feet in my life. She chose to show me what it looks like for someone to looks past labels and poor choices, and instead see the heart of a person - that’s what she did with me; she looked past what others saw at face value, and she saw me, the me He made me as, the me I had been hiding from due to shame and guilt. My life has been enriched by Dori. The woman I have become, the mom I have chosen to be, is has been deeply impacted by Dori’s friendship, her wisdom, her grace, her love and her example of what it truly means to love and accept.
It been seven years since I have moved back home to Washington. It’s been these seven years that have been filled with the most healing – it’s here where I have had to pick up the pieces of my life, face my past, embrace my future, heal the hurts, fight through lies replacing them with truths, accept my mistakes, forgive myself, find beauty in the breaking and learn what it means to walk by faith. Sometimes it has felt like a long seven years, and yet it feels like it has flown by. I have been blessed with dear friends during this time. Friends who I never would have imagined would be so connected to me and the kids; friends that I cherish like my own family. I am thankful for how when kids become friends, I get to meet new parents, for it is here where a lovely, maybe unlikely, friendship blossomed. Amy. Dear Amy. I don’t even know if I have words to actually describe what she means to me; how she has helped me over the years. Amy - she is a strong woman, full of laughter and humor. She is filled with love, compassion and kindness. She is the friend I can count on to always be there when life decides to throw me curve balls; she sits in parking lots of stores for hours waiting for Triple A to arrive when my car dies; she meets me at the door of her house with a glass of wine, dinner on the table and kids playing when I feel like my life has fallen apart. Our friendship ebbs and flows; we drive each other crazy with our differences, and yet it’s those differences that connect us; it’s in those differences where our friendship is real, where our friendship has taken root. I value her; I cherish her friendship; I treasure our long talks, our Family Fun Nights. I am blessed that she entered my life; I am blessed my kids reference her as Mama G; I am blessed to share life with her; to celebrate our kids; to celebrate our dreams coming true; to laugh, cry and be silly together.
The most highly unlikely of dear friends in my life is Mattie, but what a dear friend he has been to me. He has become like another brother to me. Through him God showed me what is like to be seen as beautiful as I am; he always speaks truth into me about who I am and what I deserve. It’s one thing to hear this from my girlfriends, but to hear this from a guy friend has been extremely different. Our friendship hasn’t been long, but it has been deep; it has impacted my life in ways he doesn’t even know. I cherish his laughter, his insight, how he cares for my kids, how he encourages me as a fellow single parent, how we can talk for hours about what it’s like to have weeks where we feel as if we are failing at parenting our kids. He reminds me, just by being him, that there are good, honorable men out there; that life is meant to enjoy; and most of all that laughter should be part of daily life.
There are more friends who have impacted my life, but these three have had the most influence in who I was and who I have become. It’s these friendships that wherever life may take me, I will hold with deep fondness in the depths of my heart. It’s in these friendships that I see the workings of God in my life, for it’s in His timing, His perfect timing, that they each entered my life. Each of them adding more color, more love, more laughter, just more to my life, and to the life of my kids.
I'm a single mom of four radiant kids who believes in relationship with Jesus over religion. I'm trying not to battle with fear anymore - instead I am choosing to follow what God has called me to do. With that you'll find me here, trying to be brave, with the goal of being authentic and honest about God, single parenting and the beauty in the mess of my joyful chaos. It's sure to be a journey... and I am blessed to share it with you!