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!