This is a story of childhood adventures, God’s answered prayers, and birthday traditions.
Friends are just important. There is a reason we love stories like David and Jonathan or Anne and Diana. But what if you don’t have one?
It’s special to have someone you see every Sunday who cares about your news, whether good or bad. To hang out, have inside jokes, and just to splurge on ice cream. And of course, you need someone to have heart-to-heart talks of a miscellaneous nature.
Especially when you’re nine years old.
I grew up in a tiny church in the middle of Kansas, and while I adored the other little girls at church, there was one problem. They were all either the ripe old age of 11 or the tender age of 7 (like my little sister). How can you relate to 11-year-old girl problems when you’re only 9?
So I decided to ask the Lord if He could bring me a good friend my age to church.
Into my life arrived Kristen and her family one Sunday. She was also 9 and only three weeks younger than me and just a hair taller. Turns out, we both used the same math book, played the piano, and read the American Girl books. A friendship was born immediately.
Shortly after I met Kristen, she turned 10 on March 3rd, and I wrote her a card, pasted pictures of the American Girl doll Kristin all over it, and wrote KrisTEN in big letters. Quite clever, I thought.
Ever since then she and I have written birthday letters to each other (even though we started out living a few country road miles apart). She used deep blue notebook paper, and I typed mine on the computer so she would be able to read the words.
I still have almost all those birthday letters stuffed with random trivia about our siblings, hopes and aspirations for the next year, encouragement and prayers, dialogue about whatever thoughts we happened to have about sweet 16, or whatever ancient age we were turning.
She had glasses — I had braces. She broke her arm once and I cut my toe open at her house (ensuing about an equal amount of drama).
We used to make lists of things we wanted to talk about with each other and at our play dates we would have our planned heart-to-hearts according to our lists.
We roller skated together, established the “fruit of the spirit” club with our little sisters, made movies, hid pretend runaways in our outdoor playhouse, played Dutch Blitz, attempted to buck bales, and rode horses. We graduated from high school and hosted a big open house together.
Kristen was there when I drove off the dirt road into the ditch at the sight of tractor filling the road (all were unharmed). She was there when we were studying for the driver’s test together. We married off her sister to my uncle (a brilliant move).
Serving side by side
Even though we had an enormous amount in common, our relationship was solidified by more than just our common love for homemade reese’s bars, etc.
I believe our relationship was made rich by our mutual love for the Lord and a desire to serve His church. We spent many hours carpooling to the nursing home to sing for the ladies there and leading discipleship and music ministries. We counseled in the same cabins at camp, were seat mates on the flight to Mexico, and played a few duets for prelude.
One of the saddest days of my life was telling her that I was moving to Idaho! But like a true friend, she didn’t let the 1,323 miles stop her from visiting.
Pray for a partner in
It’s sweet to have the consistent fellowship of a fellow church member. Not just so we have someone to enjoy more than anyone else or to monopolize all her conversations every week, but so we can have an accountability partner — someone to help us brave the courage to meet the new person. Or tackle a ministry project. Or to ask, “So what has God been teaching you?”
Do you have a good friend at church? Perhaps you could pray that God would send someone like Kristen into your life! You never know what He could have in store.
Happy Birthday to my friend, Kristen, the friend the same age as me!
Header photo by Unsplash