Treasured Friendships: Face-to-Face Real & Online Real

Okay. I've been wanting to write this post for some time. About a month ago, one of my very best friends, the woman who has mentored me for nearly 15 years of my life, came for a week-long visit (courtesy of my parents and her husband-- THANK YOU!!!). And right after she left, something happened that showed me the value of online friendships as well.

There's nothing like having someone in person who can walk alongside you in real life. Someone who knows your strengths, your weaknesses, the hurts & celebrations of your heart, the things you've done well, and the things you're working on. That kind of friend is priceless.

I was so blessed to have Angie here for a week, for us to be able to spend extended amounts of time talking through life, sharing our joys and sorrows from recent years, and catching each other up on each of our kids and their personalities and lives (she has five, all older than my four). We are blessed when God blesses us with face-to-face friends with whom we can be genuine. Friends who will call us on any negatives in our life, listen to the authentic struggles we're facing, rejoice with life's "highs", and love us through it all. What a treasure to have such a friend!

As Angie and I woke up at 3:30 am to get to the airport for her flight back to Texas, I glanced over to our mailbox (which almost never has mail, since we aren't natives and virtually no one knows our address) and saw a bubble pack sticking out. I grabbed it and glanced at the sender, only to realize that it was from someone I've been blessed to meet through the blogging community, Catherine. I had completely forgotten that she had written and asked for my mailing address. I slipped her package into my purse and Angie & I had a good last hour or so together.

After tearfully dropping my good friend off for her flight home, I got back to the parking lot and remembered the package. Opening it up, I was blessed to find an extremely encouraging letter and a CD-- a "mixed tape" of sorts. Just a bunch of encouraging and fun songs from the heart of my friend Catherine. A friend I may never get to meet face-to-face. A friend that I may never verbally talk with. But, nonetheless, a real friend. We know some of each other's stories. We have celebrated some highs and shared some lows. We've talked philosophies, examined Scripture, and spoken truthfully to one another. And God worked it out so that I received her encouraging letter at what could have been a very sad moment in life. I'm so thankful for Catherine and the valued friendship we share.

However God brings friends into our lives, we can thank Him for it... for the treasure of real friendship. Authenticity. Understanding. Honesty. Thought-provoking conversation. Scriptural one-anothering. We live in a strange era where we can have really fruitful, engaging friendships with people that we once knew but no longer live near, or people who we have never known in person but have much in common with. Whatever the case, and in whatever form it comes, what a blessing God has given us in friendship!


Catherine R. said...

Here I am to toot my own horn! ; )

Jess, I am glad I could bring a little brightness to your day. Friendship is something that can keep people alive, mentally, emotionally etc. I really believe that and have experienced it. A little encouragement here, a little lightheartedness there, a bit of weeping with those who weep.

I have a long ways to go...I am not the friend I'd like to be yet but it's not so bad to hear those nice things you said either : )

Thanks right back atcha for all the good things that friendship brings, even if it is over the web.

Aubs said...

I couldn't agree more!! Being a military wife, it has been years since i have lived near my home town(which happens to be in Texas!) where i had the support of long time friends and family. But God has shown me so much more in friendship thru the women he has brought into my life at our duty stations away from "home"! Friendship is truly priceless and a cherished gift from our Heavenly Father!! God is so good!!

Holli T. said...

Amen! I haven't met any real face-to-face friends in a long time. I cherish the friends I left behind six years ago when we first left the US. I was able to meet up with them this past weekend for a much needed "fix". We laughed, cried, shared real concerns, and laughed some more. Knowing that they are there - a phone call or email away helps me get through this current face-to-face friendless time.

"Authenticity. Understanding. Honesty. Thought-provoking conversation. Scriptural one-anothering"... the true qualities of friendship.

Holli T.

Heather said...

that's so sweet! what a blessing.

Emma said...

This was lovely to read.

Do you have advice for keeping up those friendships that start out being "real life", and then people move, circumstances change, and they then need to be online/over the phone? All my closest friends & mentors have moved away in recent years, and I struggle (especially with continuing to be mentored) because of the distance. Are there specific things you've done to keep Angie part of your life/speaking into your life, when she can't be there for real?

Thanks Jess!

Toby & Kelly said...

Thanks so much for this post, Jess. It's really encouraging and exciting to see the way God uses all things to draw the family of believers together. And just think, we'll be able to do all the 'face to face' we want to in Glory!

Dr. Paleo Ph.D. said...

Online friends...boy am I pleased you recognized that! I've met some seriously amazing people through the internet as well as the blogging community itself and--who knew?--have met some of them. People costantly diss this sort of "friend" but I think it's time people recognized that the internet is a new way to communicate and there is nothing wrong with that. Many thanks for that segment. :-)

God bless!


Jess said...

It's tough. Some of the "old" friendships I've had have fallen by the wayside. Some friends, who I didn't know very well before we moved, have become much closer, simply because they're willing to "keep up" with me via e-mail. Some friends, like Angie, are ones that we don't talk very often (maybe 1-2 times a year since I've moved abroad)... but because of the nature of our friendship, we pick back up where we left off very easily.

It's been sad to me to find that some of my very good friendships when I lived in the US have fallen by the wayside because of our living overseas, but I've been delighted to find those friends who have continued to pursue depth of conversation via e-mail.

All that to say, I really *DON'T* have good advice to share on that issue. I think it all boils down to the nature of the friendship and of the two friends involved. Are they willing to continue risking and putting forth effort, despite the change in method of communication? Are they willing to continue risking even when conversation happens only something like once a year?

Sorry I don't have more specifics.

Oh, and as for Facebook- for me, it has not been a vehicle for maintaining depth of relationship, although it does permit me to "keep up" with the events in friends' lives. On the other hand, there are a couple of friends who have sought out continued conversation via the PM feature on Facebook, and that's been good.

I don't have any real great insight to share on this issue, I'm afraid. Perhaps someone else might have some tips/ideas?

Tanya said...

That's so wonderful that your friend was able to visit and you had a wonderful package from another friend to open after she left.

Some of my closest friends are women I "met" online.

Becky S. said...

I love how faithful God is in occasionally revealing a little of what he's always doing "behind the scenes"! How he knows what we need and when we need it and chooses to use *us* as His humbling. What a blessing that your friend Catherine obeyed that prompting of the Spirit in just the right timing!

darci said...

so glad you could have a visit with a dear friend, and then a lift from the mail. :) God has "purged' certain relationships from my life, which has been hard, but I am so grateful for the deep, real friendships He has blessed me with, and in some cases, replaced with. God is so good to us-

Persuaded said...

You know I was on a message board (the MomsBoard at the Maxwell's Titus Two site) for ages. Those other gals supported me through some of the toughest years of my life..after my dh left our home and those first difficult years of single parenthood. God really used them in my life... *seriously* used them to express His love and care, and even His wisdom. That board has been closed down for quite some time, but not a day goes by that I still don't think of one or another of those wonderful women. I've met a few of them over the years, but even the ones I'll never meet here, I know I'll meet over there;)
Online friends may be different than "real life" friends, but they're just as *real.*

Mom said...

I'm so thankful that you had your dear friend, Angie there with you in person. That picture is so beautiful, and I couldn't be happier.
It is very interesting about the kind of friend who you don't see very often and yet you can pick right up where you left off when you talk with them. What a blessing!
God is so good to us, and His timing is amazing - giving us blessings JUST when we need them!
Love you, Mom