New Beginnings: Better Together
Posted January 4, 2022 by Theresa Miller
Categories: Guest Post
The first day of ninth grade is nerve-wracking, no matter your situation. I found myself in a small, Christian school where I didn’t know a soul. Most of the students seem to have grown up together.
There was one other new girl in my grade, but when I looked at her, I knew there was no way she would want to be my friend. Her brand-new clothes looked like a fashion model’s wardrobe, her hair teased and styled to 1980s perfection, and her makeup flawless.
I had never fit in with the well-dressed and well-coiffed crowd at school before, so I assumed she’d reject me as the others had.
But I was wrong. Not only did we grow a dear friendship, but her home also became a safe place for an awkward freshman with a difficult family life. I spent a lot of time with my new friend at her house, which bustled with her five sisters. We ate dinners around their big table, traveled to concerts, and practiced a lot of hair and makeup.
By the end of the school year, my unlikely friend had become my closest confidante. Despite first impressions, we had much more in common than I first imagined. That girl was Jeannette, and it’s hard to believe it’s been thirty-five years since our friendship began.
Beginnings can be scary. We don’t like to live in uncertainty, and not every change is welcome. But with change comes growth, and with growth, the opportunity to learn. Though Jeannette and I studied subjects like history, English, and the New Testament together, I also learned big life lessons.
Sometimes our biggest fears come to nothing. I entered high school thinking I would be alone and make no friends. I also thought I would be miserable. Looking back, we experienced a lot of wonderful opportunities, from retreats to choir trips, to end of year banquets. I’m not in touch with everyone from that littleschool, but those people are fondly etched into my memory.
Friends make changes bearable. Changes like big moves, marriage, having children, and scary diagnoses can be lonely. But having the support of caring people who listen and understand makes a world of difference. Even just a minute of silliness or a smile lightens the load. I should be more ashamed than I am at how many times Jeannette and I were chastised for silliness in algebra class. Sometimes just a look from one of us would send us both into giggling fits. Humor is the best way to get through challenging times, like math and raising toddlers.
Accountability is crucial when we try to change for the better. Every successful endeavor I’ve had, whether it’s in my health, writing, or spiritual life, I can partially credit to a friend who walked with me on the journey. In PE class, Jeannette encouraged me and held down my toes as I eked out the minimum number of sit ups. Since then, I’ve had writing coaches, critique groups, and prayer partners spur me on in writing. Spiritual mentors have cheered me on in my walk with Christ. Whenever I start on a new venture, I rely on my friends to help me make it happen.
Whatever new beginnings you face in the upcoming year, whether planned or unexpected, friendships lessen the negative impact and spur you on to be your best.
Which friends, either new or old, can you call on for comfort and accountability? How can you be a friend to someone facing changes in the new year?
Lyneta Smith is the author of Curtain Call: A Memoir and has contributed to various anthologies and magazines. She and her husband are happy empty nesters, living in the Pacific Northwest. When she’s not writing, you can find her teaching Bible study, chatting with friends at the local coffee shop, or enjoying family time with her adult daughters and grandkids.