I’ve heard Ed Young say those words more times than I can count. Friends have the power to either build us up and make us better or tear us down and take us lower. The friends you choose can affect your life forever. When I was 11 years old, I had no idea the importance of that phrase. But as time has passed and maturity has grown, it’s come to mean a great deal. I’ve had the negative experience of choosing friends who pressure you to act in ways you never would have alone. I’ve also had the joy of friendship that makes you better than you were before they entered your life.
Eleven year old Regina met 10 year old Hope over 2 decades ago. Those girls didn’t know that they would hold each others’ hands through jr high, high school, college, first (second and third) jobs. They didn’t know they would stand to watch the other get married and hold each others’ babies. They didn’t know but they did. And along the way, they became better.
Although it wasn’t that long ago, in 1990, it wasn’t common to see a black girl with a (very) white girl. (I can admit it. I’m pale!) I remember my grandma (admittedly from a very different time and place) questioning “what was going to happen” when I spent the night at Hope’s house. You’ll be shocked to learn there was a lot of dancing, some pranks that involved toothpaste and a little sleeping. I also remember stares. Lots of stares. As if something must be wrong with one of us to not realize that our skin color somehow meant we shouldn’t behave like any other teenage girls at the mall. But for some reason, God was gracious enough to meld together two spirits in a way that even under pressure, they stayed – one wrapped around the other.
|Side note: She had twins. I did not.|
And along the way, we changed. When I said something that I wasn’t even aware enough to realize was offensive, she corrected me. When she fell down, I picked her up. When one of us was without, the other shared – whether it was love, clothes or class notes. (Except the one time in 7th grade when I cheated off her paper and then didn’t let her look at mine. Seriously. She’s got to let that go.)
My life would not look the same without her. I always tell people that while my hair is blonde, my heart is brown. That’s partly because that’s where I keep the things I treasure most. It’s where Hope is.
|…and I stood by her|
|She stood by me…|