Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Cheers to True Friendship

Nick has gotten me hooked on Cheers. Yes, that Cheers -- Ted Danson, shoulder pads and sailor dresses and Cliff Clavin's terrible Boston accent. I know I'm a few decades behind, but you can blame that on my upbringing. Popular TV shows just never were a priority in my house. In fact, I was so Cheers-deficient that when my pastor in Idaho preached a sermon called "The Church Where Everybody Knows Your Name" a couple years ago, accompanied by a live cover of the theme song, I had no idea how everyone else in the sanctuary already knew it.

So a few weeks ago, when I heard the now-familiar strains of "Making it in the world today takes everything you've got," it all sank in. Ah ha! (Yes, I was homeschooled. Next question?)

I am not a passive sitcom viewer. I have this habit of watching a show and mulling over its meaning for the next several hours or even days. This quirk of mine has led to some great discussions about marriage, parenting and life between Nick and me (Me: "I can't believe you agree with Tim again!" Nick: "So? You always take Jill's side!" Points to anyone who can identify the show).

And so it is with Cheers. This cast of hysterical characters gets its fuel from their friendships. Yet I think the writers have gotten it a little tweaked. True friendship comes not from quick-witted barbs (oh Carla), love-hate relationships (Diane & Sam) or even overlooking country bumpkin ignoramuses (my favorite characters, Woody and Coach).

Instead, I think true friendship looks like this:

Letting your high school best friend broadcast your deepest hurt to the world so more people can pray for you, even though it reminds you of the precious newborn daughter you lost days ago. Also giving said friend permission to call you at any time of day or night to check up on you, because it makes her feel like she's somehow helping.

True friendship means watching a very energetic toddler 3 days a week for several hours at a time for no pay. If not for Melody, I could not have taught 60 piano students in Idaho. I also would never have gotten a pedicure. And if you're wondering, yes, before she became a mom, Melody was a model.

True friendship means letting your best friend cry for 45 minutes straight into your ear over her heartbreak from the day before without reminding her whatsoever that you opened for STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN last night (a dream come true, and well-deserved). After Run for Compassion Salem, all I wanted to do was sob to Rochelle. I did, and she comforted me with Bible verses, prayers and words of truth and wisdom. Only after we hung up did I realize that not once had she mentioned her big night. She had solely concentrated on me and my needs.

True friendship looks like Artists' Point in Yellowstone: wild, inspiring, organic, sometimes dirty and real. Without Tessa, I would never have discovered a career that I crave and love. I also would not know that it was possible to be a liberal in Wyoming.  

True friendship means getting up early, making a cardboard sign and trekking up a mountainside to cheer your friend on in a marathon. And also gladly peeling off her sweaty, disgusting clothes at the finish line because she was too tired and sore to do it herself.

These are the women who teach me what real friendship looks like -- not some scripted, funny moment, but selfless sacrifice and commitment played out in real life. It's not always pretty. Sometimes those relationships involve a lot of sweat (literally -- just ask Mel). Sometimes they mean speaking the harsh truth in love (if you need help in this area, see Rochelle). And sometimes, they involve tears. Yet true friendship is always worth the investment.

What does true friendship look like in your life?