Ellen Romer Niemiec
My Best Friend
I met my best friend when we were 12. We lived in 2 different suburbs about 30 minutes apart. I am still in disbelief that at a time when the internet was only starting to become a thing, there was no social media and the idea of a kid having their own cell phone was not within the realm of possibility, we made it 4 years until I turned 16 and could start driving. Through college and the years after, we are time zones apart. Finally, two years ago, we end up living in the same city. Even more miraculously, we both buy our first homes on the very same street and for the first time in 20 years - I. Can. Walk. To. Her. House. Our 12 year old selves could not fathom and cannot handle it.
Neither could our 12 year old selves likely fathom what the past 20 years have held. I am married, two kids, will never have a pet, and committed to working in the Church in some way. She is single, no kids, a creative director, doesn’t believe in God and has an adorable dog. We’ve held each other, in person and over distance, through heartbreak, losing a parent, chemo, surgeries, weddings, newborns, lost jobs, new jobs, moves, tattoos, and endless existential questions. We have shared hard truths and harsh words. We have both changed in remarkable ways but the intimacy we share not only grows but it evolves with who we are. Who we are is both exactly the same and completely different than who we were when we met.
This is the part where she may drift off a bit - but our friendship is something I thank God for every day of my life. I am in awe that God nudges and prods within us to grow and struggle and laugh and cry. That we can be entirely new and totally the same. This part may get me an eye roll - but I see God reminding me through her everyday that I can keep changing and I can do so gracefully and clumsily and still be loved. Our years together and everything that has come with them have - slowly and sometimes erratically - brought us closer.
My relationship with God has thankfully also changed over the past 34 years. Much like my intimacy with my best friend, a deepened intimacy over time lets me be angry when I am angry. It lets me rest when I simply need a safe space. It makes the joys I share something that are given freely. It isn’t perfect and we can go days and even weeks where we just keep missing each other due to busy schedules and bad timing. The unconditional love in these relationships erases the weird moments of doubt and offers a haven I can always go back to and can always welcome them into.
I don’t know what the next 20 years will bring - with God or with my best friend - but I do get to trust that both will be near to me each step of the way.