NLDC SERIES PART 2: “Becoming Friends With Both Guys and Girls”
So ok, up until I joined New Life, I had NO guy friends. Well, I didn’t really have any close friends at all that weren’t family, but I at least talked to girls and (sometimes) hung out with them. I was terrified of boys when I was a teenager (and got super red and embarrassed whenever talking to a crush, hehe), and I learned how to chat with them and have small talk when I became a youth leader. But still, nothing beyond that.
When I joined New Life, I knew I was going to be forced into relationships. (Friendship relationships, of course. There are no arranged marriage or blind dates there, hehe. Though, wait, I actually have that one story…) And I didn’t mind that. I wanted to learn how to be a friend and make friends. I was a bit worried about the whole guys-being-everywhere thing, and I got scared that I was going to fall madly in like with every one of them. And that’s just kind of inevitable, you know? If you work in close proximity with Christian guys who are passionate about God and ministry, it’s hard not to see very desirable and admirable qualities in them that you would desire in your own future husband.
So it didn’t take me by surprise when that’s pretty much what happened. I did develop temporary crushes on most of the guys that I traveled with. It was a great group of guys, and their exuberant personalities and over-the-top silliness was very fun to be around; and when you combined that with each of their own unique takes on God and desires to grow more like Him and spread Him everywhere, it was both encouraging and appealing.
Over the course of the year, as I got to know them more and learned how to communicate as a regular person, (and got over the immediate “oh my goodness Christian guys everywhere!” girly crushes) I got the chance to really see them for who they were. I was a Financer for most of my time traveling, which meant that I was the associate leader of the Coordinator of the team, which was usually a guy. I got the opportunity to work as a team with about 5-6 different leaders. Each and every one had different leadership styles, teaching passions, ways of communicating and strengths and weaknesses. I became good friends with almost all of the guys I traveled with. And as I got to see the ways in which they were all so different, my schoolgirl crushes faded as we developed lasting and real friendships.
My chance to create these valuable and meaningful friendships with guys was a very new thing for me, and allowed for a lot of growth and encouragement. But so did my friendships with the girls I traveled with.
There were probably 8-9 girls that I got along really well with and had opportunities to be close to at various times of my traveling. At home, I always felt intimidated whenever I came into youth group and all the girls were in their own little cliques. People were nice to me and didn’t EXCLUDE me, but it’s scary to try to compete with people who are already best friends.
But in New Life, we were all new together. And we were such a small group, and usually had only 2-4 girls on a team, that we had a great amount of time to BE a team and get to know each other. We each had our own part to play, and the unity that we built over a 10 week tour was a form of relationship I’d never experienced before.
I had opportunities to try and encourage the girls on my team, and they did the same thing for me. We laughed at each other’s antics, encouraged our walks with God and pursuits for righteousness, shared hopes and dreams and passions, giggled incessantly, and learned how to communicate with one another. While some of our senses of humors clicked, and some clashed, there was always something good to find in the other person. Through stress and joy, exhaustion and adrenaline, I formed some great connections with some amazing women.
Though it’s hard to keep up with everybody now that we’re all separate from each other, I’ve tried to do my best to maintain a long-distance relationship with my NLDC friends. Though we’ll probably never be as close again, the special friendships I created with these people will always be one of my happiest memories, and each time we get together or call each other up, I’m reminded of how God has blessed me at each place in my life. There are a number of friends that I feel I could call up if I needed to on a rough day, and I know they would listen to me, without judging me, and be there. Knowing that means a lot. It’s something I’ve never had before, and I want to be that same kind of friend, even from far away.
So thank you to all my friends from New Life Drama Company. Even if you don’t read this blog, even if we haven’t talked in forever, you are in my heart and cherished and will always be a special part of my life. Thank you. -BAM