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Camaraderie = We’re In This Together

Several years ago, I was single and living alone in a three-bedroom house in Dallas, Texas. My most recent roommate had long since moved out (and gotten married. I didn’t even need to say that, did I?).

Due to a recent breakup, this was a painful season. And I’d made a pact with a girlfriend. What we both needed most was prayer—not the kind of prayer that was about the needs and desires of our hearts. No, these were please-God-I’m-dying-over-here-would-you-draw-me-near prayers.

Deep, honest, tear-stained and snot-filled prayers. Gross, I know. But when you’re begging God to occupy the empty places of your soul with His love for you, and asking Him to make sure you know it, sometimes the tears (and the snot) just flow freely.

Thankfully, we’d decided all of that rawness between us was okay. We’d covered enough ground with each other that our Tuesday night meetings became a place of solace where we could come to just cry out to God and be not-alone in our pain. Those were some of the most honest and vulnerable moments I’d ever experienced. Real, gritty, and truthful. With God. With each other. No holds barred.

One evening during that season, I invited my friend to come early for dinner. I was wrapping up my day, and she was coming straight from work. It would be one of those spontaneous we’ll-eat-from-the-fridge kind of meals. The meal I would have eaten alone, but now I’d invited a friend.

She arrived when I was in the middle of sorting the spring mix—that frustrating task of separating the good leaves from the wilty, mushy, disgusting ones. I so wished I had completed this task before she arrived. Or realized it needed to happen in time to make a quick run to the store. But I was stuck. And even after all those weeks of crying and snotting with each other, I was ashamed at the status of my spring mix.

But you know what she did. She walked over, stood with me at the sink and began to wash away lettuce mush from the good leaves until we had a decent salad assembled.

Camaraderie It may have seemed a small gesture to her, but I will never forget it. I wasn’t used to letting others see the imperfect parts of my life. The behind-closed-doors mess that proved I didn’t have all my ducks in a row. I’m certain now that I wasn’t fooling anyone. But I’d gotten so used to always putting my best foot forward, never letting them see me sweat, and covering up what hurt me. So used to it that my desire for perfection was keeping others from seeing the real me. From loving the real me—flaws and all.

And in that interaction, when my friend responded with love to my imperfect dinner offering, I began to understand that her friendship had nothing to do with what I had could do for her.

It marks a moment in my mind when I began to understand camaraderie as a “we’re in this together” type of friendship. It was—and IS—so beautiful. When my salad leaves aren’t fresh and my tears feel like they are too much, she’ll be ‘with me’ anyway.

Even today, it takes practice (and trust) to continue to let people REALLY see me. But every time I pull out a box of spring mix and find even a few mushy, wilted leaves, I’m reminded of the friend who stood with me and labored at the sink separating the good from the bad so we could share a meal.

Have you experienced a “we’re in this together” kind of friendship? How did it come about? What did it feel like?

{ 13 comments… add one }

  • Alia Joy February 22, 2014, 11:49 am

    Yes! I love how you’ve captured this time and the importance of friends who are in life with you instead of in it for what they can get. I hate that salad mush too. You’ve tapped into a beautiful theme for your micro-memoir. The depth of friendship and true community when it’s needed most. Something as simple as standing beside you with no judgements and jumping in to help let you see her depth of love for you. I loved this story. Thanks so much for joining in with us.

    • Merritt March 5, 2014, 10:24 am

      What sweet words of encouragement, Alia Joy. Thank you so much for leaving them here. Appreciate the offer to share it on your blog and for you taking the time to come and read and respond. Grateful!

    • Alysa March 5, 2014, 11:16 am

      Micro-Memoir! Love it – and totally agree Alia. Would love to read anything written by Merritt!

  • Kate February 22, 2014, 12:27 pm

    I really love your writing style .. and your website design! Both really stunning. So glad I stopped by from the (in)Courage group .. What a great testimony of a strong and solid friendship, too — definitely a gift! Blessings to you as you continue to seek God’s face through the good leaves and the mushy ones.

    • Merritt March 5, 2014, 11:02 am

      Hi Kate, thanks so much for stopping by! I’m sorry I’m just now seeing your comment. (My lovely web designer had to tell me how to approve them so they just sat for a week or so!) Appreciate your kind words. I’m loving this journey, even though I have no idea what’s next! Thanks again for being here.

  • Alysa February 22, 2014, 3:29 pm

    What an incredible story Merritt! I have a few close “we’re-in-it-together” friendships. They seemed to happen naturally but were all marked with similar ‘spring-mix-washing’ type moments. When things got messy or uncomfortable and a friend stuck around and pressed in instead of bolting — that’s when I’d know that true camaraderie was beginning to smile. I’d say it feels very much like an unexpected or somehow undeserved gift. Surprise and gratefulness all wrapped into one.

    My dad was in a terrible car accident while I was in high school and I can remember receiving the news just as a friend was dropping me off at my empty home. She drove me right back to her place and pushed a huge box of tissues across the carpet of her bedroom floor towards me and let me cry for such a long time. Her gift of camaraderie was so meaningful, especially in that moment.

    • Merritt March 5, 2014, 10:27 am

      True friends…such a blessing. Thanks for sharing how you’ve seen camaraderie play out in your life and relationships, Alysa. I’m sitting here wishing there were a recipe for building such friendships (or knowing which ones will really go deep), but I think you hit the nail on the head. We find them in those moments when someone chooses to stay through the mess instead stepping away. I have a choice for that someone to be me! Thanks again for your comment.

      • Alysa March 5, 2014, 11:14 am

        Aw thanks! Yes – it can be such a mystery at times, but also a choice that we can make to step into camaraderie.

  • Lorretta February 27, 2014, 7:30 pm

    I’d be sorting the mush from the good with you too. You’re my kind of girl! Brave on!

    • Merritt March 5, 2014, 10:09 am

      Aw, thanks so much Lorretta. Grateful for your comment and encouragement!

  • Laura May 21, 2014, 4:02 pm

    I love this beyond my ability to articulate. I’m realizing how underrated friendship is, and how little we tend to value it. This is something I’m currently trying to cultivate in my life, and vividly seeing this scene from your kitchen unfold in my mind is, to me, friendship defined. This is where the hole lies in my life. I have either never found friendship like this, or squandered it in my younger years when I didn’t know any better. I’m not sure. But this is so beautiful, just to BE with no judgment nor fear of criticism. Just awesome. Loved reading this. 🙂

    • TMRPadmin May 22, 2014, 10:13 am

      It’s funny, the closeness of this friendship came as the result of pain–for both she and I. “It takes two” as they say. Had one of us been unwilling to be vulnerable and raw in those moments, it would have looked very different. Now that I live thousands of miles away from her, I am reminded how important it is to continue to nurture new friendships with my own vulnerability–it gives others permission to be vulnerable as well and that response can be the first clue that a TRUE friendship is blossoming.
      It’s not easy, and it takes time. Hang in there…and keep being vulnerable!!

  • Aaron May 22, 2014, 6:08 pm

    Glad you are finding “me too” moments and comfort in the solace of friends. God bless you and Todd and your journey.

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