Last night I got to see my best friend Erin, who has been my BFF since we were three years old and our families moved in across the street from one another in 1980-81, in what was then a brand new neighborhood. I have no recollection of which family moved in first, but from the start, Erin and I were a match made in heaven. (By the One who rules heaven, I am quite sure.) We were born just ten days apart, we were the only girls in our family, and we had the same middle name. Also, our houses were like, 50 feet from each other. The childhood friendship of all childhood friendships was cemented quickly and easily.
There was one small hiccup in our friendship—though we were the same age, Erin started kindergarten the year before I did. Her birthday is August 26th and mine, September 5th. My mom wasn’t ready to start me yet, so Erin was on the young end of her classmates and I was on the older end of mine. Nevertheless, we managed to survive being a grade apart in school and stay close. We also went to the same church, so we still pretty much saw each other every day.
Fast forward many years, and Erin and I maintained our thicks-as-thieve friendship (though without the thievery). We survived the late 80s and early 90s together with the help of mall bangs, baby blue eyeshadow and mascara, and trips to the drug store for matching nail polish and lipstick. Church camp and youth group mission trips allowed us extra special times to deepen our bond. Even when she went to college and I was still in high school, we stayed tight.
After college, Erin got married and I was her maid of honor. A year later, I got married and she was my matron of honor. Our childhood friendship had morphed into an adult one. Soon we started having babies…Erin got started on that a bit quicker than I did, but when I had my first, she had her third, quite literally! Believe it or not, we both delivered our baby boys on February 27, 2004, in the same hospital, mine at 9:00 A.M. and hers at 9:15 A.M.! This was especially miraculous to me because I was due February 25th and Erin was due March 15th!
Over the years we haven’t seen each other as much as we’d like. Erin lives an hour away, and she is busy homeschooling her four kiddos and serving at her church, while I’m busy with family life and career. But every time we get together, it’s as if no time has passed at all. We had the privilege of celebrating our 40th birthdays together last year and I can’t tell you how much it meant to me for us to be together on those special days. From Erin, and a few special friends like her, I’ve really learned the value of childhood friendships in the midst of adulthood.
The beauty of childhood friendships
There are a few reasons why I think lasting childhood friendships are so important, and why I pray that my kids have at least one childhood friendship that is special and enduring.
Childhood friendships are rooted in innocence
When we come to love each other as children, it’s with hearts that still assume the best of each other. Our motivations for the friendship are pure. While Erin and I were at three years old, certainly still selfish beings, we were also immediately accepting of one another just as we were. That has continued throughout our lives, in every stage. Childhood friendships exude unconditional love that grows and transfers to adulthood.
Childhood friendships help us learn trust
When you grow up with someone, when you’re in their daily life, you get to know their true heart from the time they are very young. Even if I haven’t talked to Erin for six months, if she asked me for something or told me a hard truth I would find it very hard to question (as long as it didn’t go against what I know the Bible says to be true.) I trust her judgment because I know her heart. And I would trust her with my life or my children’s lives, honestly. Trust also allows me to give grace in abundance. No one is perfect, and we all screw up. My friends who have known me since childhood give me extra “credits,” extra grace, when it comes to my screw-ups, and I do the same for them.
Childhood friendships help us agree to disagree
Within the three or four truly lasting childhood friendships I’ve had, there have of course been some disagreements, especially as we’ve gotten older and formed our own opinions on religion, politics, and everything else one can possibly disagree on. But dangit, these humans I’ve known and loved my whole life are a gift from God, and they’ve certainly taught me that “agree to disagree” is a thing. They’ve also taught me that we can talk to each other and dialogue about things we don’t agree on, and help each other at least understand where the other is coming from. I guess that goes back to unconditional love. My childhood friendships have taught me that there are many relationships worth saving and holding on to, despite (and maybe even because of) differences of opinion or choices.
Moms and dads, watch your children’s childhood friendships carefully. If they have sweet friends they’ve known their whole lives, encourage those relationships. Do your part to make sure they’re healthy and to urge your child to value and maintain the friendship through life’s ups and downs. The older I get, the more I believe the saying is true: Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
Do you have any special childhood friendships that have translated to adulthood? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!