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Better Together

Linking up with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.  Today's writing prompt is this :

 Who in your life lives these words: “I don’t have it all together. But I believe we’re better together.”

Whenever I hear phrases that link the two words better and together I am instantly transported to my high school with its unique gymnasium floor crisscrossed with red and blue lines.  I'm on the sidelines in front of a row of bleachers trying to hold back a smile as I glance to the mischief filled eyes of a few of my teammates.  One of them is still one of my closest friends.  There is no air conditioning and sweat is dripping rivers down my back.  All of our knee pads are up and our sleeves are tucked up like haphazard muscle tees as we lean into a huddle to conclude another practice.  Our overly serious coach barks, "On three 'Together We're Better!'" The few rebels of us look and laugh as we over the top roar the one cheer that always makes us laugh because we can't help but think it is nothing but cheesy, “Together we’re better!”  Especially with the way our season is going and the different people that comprise our team.  We say it, but we do so with a sarcastic smirk and a wink at each other.

And it’s a joke that finds its way in the halls of high school as lockers slam and we shuffle to class.  It could be summarized by the quote one of the team stated that year to the year book staff, "I was just in it for the individual glory." And everyone knows that was nothing but a lie.  We all had a good laugh about it.  Because half of us were there simply because we were better together, just not necessarily in volleyball. We just wanted to enjoy our junior year together.  And we did even if we were on the sidelines. 

Despite the memory that is etched in my mind of those two words when married, the phrase, "But I believe we are better together" couldn't be truer.  It's the truth of all of our humanity.  We cannot self isolate and truly live.  Not for long at least.  We become distorted fragments of who we really are.  In fact, without relationships with our Creator and then with others we cannot truly know who we are, how we relate to the world, or really the gift God made in us.  Because we are God's workmanship.  His gifts to be shared with the world.  Each person.  Until that gift is given, received, and opened it can't know its full purposes, its full expression.  It is simply incomplete.  There is no way around God's giving of our lives' gifts apart form the messy work of relationships and primarily many times friendships.

I am reading a friendship book that has made me laugh.  A lot.  I love Melanie Shankle.  I love deep books, biographies, even text books, even reading maps, and brochures but every now and again you need a book that is just for fun and you smile your way through the pages.  Shankle’s books are like that.  Her latest, Nobody's Cuter Than You: A Memoir about the Beauty of Friendship   is a candid, relatable tale of she and all the friends that have played a part in the story of her life.  Her stories remind you of so many of your own and despite all of her honest humor they are filled with some deep hearted truths about the value of friendship and the working mechanics and rules of true friendship.  The requirements.  The grace.  The joy that friendship multiplies. 

One chapter in particular stood out to me because it describes the idea of "soul knitting".  Melanie makes a correlation between those friends that go deep with you in life, way beyond surface skimming and that beautiful deep friendship story of Jonathan and David in the Bible.  Those few friends that hold your hands along the whole of the journey and don't shrink back from the darkness in you or in themselves and help you face it, loving you anyways.  And maybe oh so much more because of it.  They are willing to look the storms in your life in the eye and help you through it even though they do not have to.   Don't you love the story of Jonathan and David?
I have always been struck by the 'Supporting Friend' that Jonathan was.  On paper he was poised to be the next king; however, in his heart he knew that title and headship was to be given to his best friend.  Talk about a breeding ground for jealousy, comparison, and a potential lethal injection for friendship.  But we do not see that in the heart of Jonathan.  Instead the Bible describes Jonathan's heart towards David as this, And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself." (1 Samuel 18:3).  

Have you ever had a friend like that?  A friend that you shared so much of you with that you could describe your love for them as loving them as you love yourself?   I think many times we reserve that kind of love as romantic love, but really that deep love comes from the heart of God and we can find it in every unexpected friends.  Perhaps a teenager or child we befriend that tugs at our heart or perhaps in the eyes that still sparkle under the droopy and creviced lined lids of an elderly friend.  I know I've found that love at both ends of the spectrum.  

Love like that requires selflessness.  A willingness to be the supporting friend.  Not the lead.  How often in friendship do we decide to take on the lead rather than thinking of the ways that we can come along side of someone and support their story?  You have to be secure in who you are to do this and be willing to lay aside comparison.  Your agenda.  You have to be willing to just be with people instead of fix them or circumstances. 

How easy would it have been for Jonathan to let his father King Saul to end David's life?  But, no he chose to protect David because he loved David as he loved himself.  In 1 Samuel 18:1 the Bible says their souls were kit together.  That is close.  Real close.  

Melanie Shankle says this about soul knitting, "Having your soul knit to another isn't for the faint of heart.  It means you bear your own hurts along with those of your friend.  You cry when she cries and laugh when she laughs and come up with plots to kill someone who causes her any pain.  You love harder, laugh louder, live richer, and become more together than you could ever by yourself.  Soul knitting is putting your heart and your name in the hands of another person and saying, 'I trust you with all of this' and having that person do the same." (Nobody's Cuter Than You, pg. 64)
It’s two way vulnerability.  And that takes courage and jumping off a cliff of sorts.  But so does any rich and meaningful thing in life. 

I think that is the perfect summary of deep and living friendship. Loving people with your life with whom you can look at and say, "We may not have it together, but we are better together."  I can honestly say that I have several friends like that.  I think the best way to find friends like that is to be an open person.  Open to friendships that you might not preconceive as 'your type' or 'your people'.  Open to friendships that will require really the investment of sharing and serving and cheering, not competing.  Open to letting someone else shine and being nothing but genuinely happy for them.  And most of all open with the eyes of your heart, because people know when you care.  They sense genuineness and deep heartedness and if you possess it you will find yourself walking hand in hand with some beautiful people that don't have it all together.  Just like you.  
Shouting it out to Kristen, Jenna, Faithie, Stacie, Sarah, Keith, Dana, Ryan, and several more beautiful people and a few friends already in Heaven.  

I included this overly cheesy volleyball picture only for memory of that season.  It is  my usual overly perky picture from that era of my life.  Note our very modest volleyball outfits circa 2002.  I was looking for some candid true to life shots, but they are all packed away in boxes now.  This cheese will have to suffice.  Oh the Lady Eagles  

And ya’ll who played on the volleyball court in 2002.  We really were better together downing ungodly amounts of soda and laughing so hard on the way back from away games.  I loved that season because of you.  And Megan if you were in it for the individual glory I’m ok with that :) 

Still in my huddle, still making me laugh at the wrong times.


  1. Somer,
    Enjoyed seeing your volleyball photo and the other photos of your friends -- they are priceless, aren't they? Friendships take a lot of effort but your words ring true that you're better together than without them. Glad to read your words, friend!


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