Have you ever heard of that quote before? If it is true I must be dang amazing because I think my friends and family are pretty great. If I read that quote when I was 14 I would have thought, “I’m in trouble.”
I pretty much had one friend in 8th grade. I was on the shy and socially awkward side. It was my second year at a new school and I still didn’t feel like I fit in. I had made one close friend that my parents weren’t thrilled about. She came from a rough home situation. She was yelled at and criticized a lot so she ended up interacting with others in the same way. I was just happy to have a friend so I chose to ignore the fact that she wasn’t always kind and didn’t have the same standards.
Over the summer between our 8th and 9th grade year things got worse. I could deal with her impatience and bossiness but was uncomfortable with some of the choices she was starting to make. I didn’t like swearing and I had no intention of experimenting with smoking, drinking and boys; but she had different ideas. Being away from her over the summer helped me see how much better I felt being away from a negative influence. My parents had taught me how important it was to keep good friends and I started to understand why.
I made a decision. I wasn’t going to continue my friendship with her anymore. Distancing myself during the summer was easy but our freshman year was fast approaching and I couldn’t avoid her at school. I had no answers as to how I would make new friends and how I would manage to avoid my old friend without hurting her. I only knew I had to follow through with my decision. My only answer at that point was prayer.
The night before school started I was sick with anxiety. I was an introvert and not great at making new friends. I always only had one close friend and I was ok with that. I prayed and asked Heavenly Father to please just help me find the courage to move on from my unhealthy friendship. I was incredibly nervous that I would give in when I saw her. I prayed that He would help me make a new friends. I kept imagining enduring the awkwardness of sitting all by myself during lunch. All I could do now was face my first day of high school and hope my prayers had been heard.
I must have looked as nervous as I felt when I arrived at school the next morning. As I walked into the gym for the opening assembly two upperclassmen laughed and observed, “Oh, look at the poor scared little freshman!” That didn’t give me any courage. I glanced up at the bleachers hoping I would see someone I recognized to sit next to. I spotted my friend and quickly looked away. She called out to me and waved me over. I smiled and waved back but I willed my feet to keep moving forward. I could see the look of confusion on her face from the corner of my eye. I felt horrible for the hurt I probably caused her but I didn’t know how else to handle the situation. I found an empty row, sat by myself, and blinked back tears. It was as hard as I thought it would be and I was only 5 minutes into the day. What would I do when I saw her in my classes?
I was relieved that she wasn’t in my first period class. I saw a few girls I recognized from middle school that I assumed were nice but they were popular and I wasn’t. One sat next to me, Shannon. She was especially friendly and smiled a lot. I figured she was safe to talk to, if only I had the nerve to talk. Too late, class ended and it was on to 2nd period. We were in the same class again. I heard her complaining that she was assigned a locker on the other side of the school far from all her classes. On to 3rd period; we had the same class AGAIN and I still hadn’t seen my old friend. We finally started chatting about how it was funny that we had our first 3 classes together. We ended up following each other to the same 4th period class as well. In each class we talked more and more. By lunch time she asked if I wanted to eat with her. I was so happy to not have to eat alone. My old friend must have had a different lunch schedule because she was nowhere to be found.
When the lunch bell rang we laughed as we both walked to the same 5th period class. We finally decided to compare schedules and found that they were identical. We had every single class together. By the end of the day I realized I hadn’t seen my other friend once; we didn’t have any classes together at all. When the final bell rang Shannon walked with me to my locker. It was in the perfect spot, right in the main hallway. “You can share my locker with me if you want, since you didn’t get a good one.” She was grateful and our friendship was sealed.
I think we considered ourselves best friends by the end of the first week. We gave each other silly nicknames and talked about our top secret crushes. We were inseparable the rest of the school year, not that we had a choice. I wouldn’t have had it any other way though. I still have proof of our friendship. In the 90’s you weren’t true BFFs if you didn’t go to a Wal-Mart picture studio and have your picture taken together.
Lets not forget the the best part of this story though. When I got home from school that first day there was no way for me to deny the miracle Heavenly Father gave me. Not only did he answer my prayer and give me courage to do what I had to, He showed me His love by giving me exactly what I needed. I’m still amazed that I didn’t have a single class with the friend I needed to separate myself from. Heavenly Father could have ended His miracle there but He chose to show me His love by putting just the friend I needed in every single class with me.
Shannon and I are still friends to this day. She was a bridesmaid at my wedding. We get to see each other every year when she comes home to visit. I feel blessed to have her in my life.
How loved we are. How eager our Savior is to bless us. How well He knows us individually. How grateful I am for friends.