I spent the holiday weekend down South with some of my best girlfriends. We were quite literally together 24/7, yet those four days passed by in a blink. Picture mimosas, Chick Fil A, and the deep kind of belly laughs that give you hiccups for the rest of the night.
We sat in a car for a total of six hours on one of those days, and I don't think we stopped talking for a moment. That's the thing about road trips: You learn very quickly how strong your relationships are with everyone in that car. When it’s just you and your friends, and if you’re lucky the sounds of Taylor Swift’s greatest hits, you can’t help but get to know one another.
Throughout the weekend, I was faced with the realization that by this time next year, we'd all be living in different cities. New chapters of our lives are starting. Marriage, moves, a promotion, and in my case, staying put and not knowing what could happen next.
It felt so heavy. This realization was like the elephant in the room that I really didn’t want to see, but one I knew was going to catch up with me in the near future. The day was fast approaching that we wouldn’t be able to hop on the subway or walk to each other’s apartments. We wouldn’t gather for Thursday night sangria or see each other at church on Sundays.
That made me incredibly sad.
For the almost three years I’ve lived in New York, these girls have been by my side. They’ve been part of the community that’s surrounded me and encouraged me in every sort of season: a layoff, a promotion, a move, love, heartache, sickness, health. They’ve helped lead me to Christ, and they show me His love again and again.
During our weekend, I’d giggle at their jokes and sing along to the radio, simultaneously thanking God for these women and concealing a nagging sense of fear. I kept thinking about how much they mean to me—and how absolutely terrified I am to live life in New York without them in it. I am thrilled for the changes happening in my friend’s lives, but these changes serve as a mirror to my own life. Comparison truly is the thief of all joy.
Everyone is moving on without me, I thought. I’m stuck here and they’re moving on to new and better chapters.
Leave it to a road trip to put everything in perspective.
After repeatedly belting out “All You Had To Do Was Stay” (seriously, our falsettos are on point) and discussing whether or not I should apply for The Bachelor (hiiii Ben H.), we got a bit more serious. We set aside the silliness and started talking about that elephant. And my sweet friend then asked us the best question.
How can we be praying for each other?
It’s a question that was nowhere near my radar. I had been so wrapped up in my own anxiety and self-pity that I hadn’t thought about much else.
Not to be a downer, my friend said, but our lives are going to look different soon, and I want to know how we can really be there for one another.
Her question sparked a conversation for the next three hours in that car. And it hit me that I’m not the only one with anxiety and fear. Each of these women has their own particular struggles—as well as their own blessings and reasons to be grateful. The more we talked, the more my self-pity faded away and the more I began to see what an absolutely beautiful gift it is to have women in my life who aren’t just friends, but who are sisters.
New York City may have initially brought us together, but it's not the thread that really unites us. Long after the lights of the Big Apple have faded, a much brighter light remains. That light is why we owe each other more than a text or a Snapchat or an Instagram. Sure these forms of communication will help us stay in touch; to truly continue the life-giving relationships we’ve already formed, though, we have to pray.
It sounds so simple, but it’s honestly the most difficult act we can do for one another. My prayer life has been a bit stagnant these days. I’ll journal, I’ll listen to sermons and worship music, and I’ll talk about faith within community. But how often do I pray out loud to God? Eh, not so much.
I want to change that. I want to speak His word aloud. I want my inclination to be to pray, not to complain and worry. I want our friendships to be full of prayer because I believe prayer is the thing that will keep us connected even when we’re hundreds of miles apart. So we’ve decided to start our own small group of sorts. Between FaceTime, Periscope, and Skype, a little distance is nothing we can’t handle.
And what a privilege it is to have friends who I can pray with and pray for. Friends who intimately know my heart. Friends who will join me not just on road trips in the South, but through all the twists and turns on the road toward Christ.