When I was young, my grandparents used to spend summers mining rubies in the mountains of North Carolina. I remember my grandfather finding dozens of rocks that barely resembled the pretty rubies I was used to seeing. He kept many of them. He would say, “That one could be real nice” and then tuck it away with his collection.
Every once in a while though, he would find one that he’d hold in his hand for quite a while. He would show it to me and say, “This one is going to be something special.” Those he treated differently. He set them aside, protected them, took them to a jeweler to be polished and cut and set in pieces that he would treasure and share with those he loved most.
I was once told that if I could count the sum of my best friends on one hand, then I was a lucky person, indeed. At the time, I had no concept of the depth of that particular truth. I was too busy, attempting to be popular, to get it.
As I count down the days until my fortieth birthday, I realize how true that counsel was.
What I wish I knew then that I know now, is that the friends you count in your youth may not be the same ones you count in your later years. I have had some very precious and amazing friends in my adult life. Some of them were lost to me during my period of wandering in the wilderness. Some, God ensured, remained near enough to see Him bring me into my promised land.
Today, I am incredibly honored to live life among a larger group of ladies that love me. They are kind and supportive, encouraging and empowering. They are all of the things that women of God should be. They laugh with me, pray for me, appreciate my twisted sense of sarcasm and don’t mind being seen in public with me when I’m not wearing makeup.
Yet, I don’t think we’d call each other intimate friends. We don’t share our deepest struggles with one another or call each other in the most challenging or rewarding moments of our lives. This isn’t because we don’t love each other, dearly, but because we haven’t developed that special type of love for one another that supersedes all emotion and circumstance.
It seems that we often find out who our real friends are when we are either really successful or when we are a complete failure. Special are those friends that rejoice for us on the mountaintops without clinging to our backs in the hopes of avoiding their own climb and those who will sit down with us in the valley, hold our hands and pray with us until we can stand again and continue the journey.
Not every friend will be able to do those things.
Some may, indeed, be “real nice.” It’s the other ones though; the ones that the Father holds in His hand and shows us while whispering, “This one is going to be something special.” Those are the friendships that are more precious than rubies. Those are the ones worth nurturing, caring for, investing in and sharing with those we love most.
I pray that we are all blessed enough to find those friends.