In high school, my closest friends were guys. We shared similar interests, favorite music and movies, and were even in a couple bands together. But when I left for college, that began to change. I found my circle of friends mainly shifting to women. It was a situation not entirely familiar to me, but it was one I’m absolutely thankful for.
When I first arrived at college, my only friend on campus was a female friend I had only spoke to over AOL Instant Messenger. She invited me to a campus ministry that she went to on Wednesday nights. Within that group I was adopted into a group of girls that met together every Sunday night to watch the shows on ABC, Grey’s Anatomy, Extreme Home Makeover, and Desperate Housewives. While I have to admit that I didn’t always enjoy the shows, I enjoyed the company. They cared about me and were interested in who I was as a person. That first year I didn’t have too many guy friends. It wasn’t because they weren’t around, but because they were already in solid friendships and I didn’t see much of them. I met with some guys for a weekly Bible study, but that was about it. The girls were around more often and I valued having their opinions and their friendships.
These girls even helped me to accept my past as a part of who I am. Four years earlier my father had died, and two years earlier I was hospitalized for major depression. It was a story I didn’t tell people because I didn’t like to share it. But after letting out a tiny bit of that story one night, these girls gathered around me, bought a pizza, and listened as I told my story. It was one I had never told from start to end before. The best part was, at the end of it all, they didn’t accuse me of not being a Christian, they didn’t say depression was a sin, they didn’t say anything corny or cheesy about the death of a loved one. They just loved me. They listened to who I was with the only purpose of seeking to know another. It was the best situation to open up to. Since then, I’ve managed to tell my story without hesitation because these girls have helped me to realize that this is not something to run from, but it is who I am.
When I graduated from college and left for seminary, I arrived at my new dorm room in a state away from any friends I had before. I gravitated toward the guys that I had class with because we would play video games together and that helped build camaraderie among us. But usually when I was looking for a solid conversation, I would walk down the hall a few doors to a female friend’s room. We would share the hard struggles we had and our problems in ways I didn’t usually talk to my guy friends about. For some reason I just felt her company was a better fit for the deeper discussions of life than my guy friends were.
As college went on, I met a girl, and as seminary was in full swing I would marry her. Because of the lifestyle two full time students possess, my wife and I are each others primary friendship. We haven’t found too many friendships in our town, so most nights we just spend at home together. This proximity has led to some great conversations, fun board games, and way too many hours spent on NetFlix. In that time, she has become my closest friend. One that I can share anything with, and one that seeks to better know me, help me to become a better person, and one that puts up with my desire for theological discussions at 1 in the morning.
Though we have drifted a part because we are no longer in school together, I think back to the friendships I once had during college and remember how they helped shape me into who I am today. That is something I’m incredibly thankful for, and wouldn’t change, even if I could.
www.kellenfreeman.net and has a new food blog starting today at www.aheapingtablespoon.com. You can find him on Twitter @kellenfreeman. Call him a hipster because of the v-neck if you must, but he’ll fight you about it until his last breath.
This post is a part of a series of guest posts about cross-gender friendships in preparation for the Sacred Friendship Gathering in April. For more information about the gathering, check out the website. I hope to see you there!