Today I wanted to take the time to tell the story of a young woman who has become more than just a friend to me. Her name is Cleva. We met a little over 10 years ago at a tent revival. It was at a time in my life where I was seeking God’s face more than ever. I was a single mom with a son and I was trying to navigate my ministry and being single all at the same time.
As the service went on I saw a young woman who seemed to be about my age with a radical praise. What caught my attention was the fact that her praise felt so familiar to my own it was almost tangible. Throughout the service I kept feeling drawn to her. During the prayer line of the service we connected and ended up praying with/for each other. Afterwards we spoke and discovered how much we had in common. She too was a single mom, in the ministry and trying to navigate the sometimes bumpy road of balancing both without falling prey to the judgment of those around us.
After that night, we didn’t actually see each other for some time. She lived in one state and I in another, yet we always stayed in contact either by phone, email or text. We prayed for each other constantly and whenever the other was going through somehow the other knew and always reached out just in time. We never called each other friends somehow we just naturally always referred to the other as ‘Sis’. From the very start, she was always more than just a friend. We have always shared the major moments in our lives despite distance and lack of frequent face to face contact. It was as if we just had an emotional connection where all of that didn’t matter.
As a child, I always wondered why I didn’t seem to make or keep many close friends. I had friends don’t get me wrong. I was actually kinda popular but I never went over to anyone’s house or had a sleepover. I didn’t have a huge Sweet Sixteen with girlfriends and such. My Sweet Sixteen was mostly family members. I never had the memories that most girls seemed to have. The biggest reason is probably because my grandmother was over protective to the skies limit. Seriously folks…the ONE time she let me walk home from school I turned around and saw her ducking behind a mailbox. Her rule was if they didn’t come to my house then I wasn’t going to see them outside of school. I can’t imagine how she would be nowadays. Whew!
Into my twenties, I just didn’t pursue it anymore. I was happy with my small circle of family members and just gave them the double duty of being family and friend. I’m not sure if that was fair to them or not. Yet, when I met Cleva and realized that you could actually have a person who understood you and could be completely honest with you and still have your back without being family. I was shocked. All my life, I thought the only people who could truly understand me were my family. Then I understood I had met someone who was more than just a friend, she was a Sister. It was through her friendship I have been able to learn that family is family but friends can fill an entirely different space in your life. A space that is necessary to be filled.
Cleva was there for me through some difficult and some major moments in my life…
- When I met my husband, she was almost the first person I told that I thought I had met ‘The One’. She prayed with me and helped me through letting go of that ‘Single Mommy’ mentality that I had to do everything on my own and for myself.
- When I had fertility issues 3 years into our marriage she talked me through it and assured me that God was going to let it happen in His own time.
- Then when I had my 3 Kiddies less than 2 years apart she was there to tell me I could handle it.
- When we found out that he was going to be deployed, she was there to listen to my cries and even my silence in the moments I felt I just couldn’t take the loneliness.
- When we made the move to Hawaii, she celebrated with me and helped encourage me and give me the confidence that the chick from NY who had never been away from her hometown for more than a couple of weeks could make it as long as she had her Hubby and her Kiddies.
- After we got back, she was one of the first phone calls I made to tell I was back stateside.
There were times in our friendship where we would go without speaking to each other for months, yet somehow it didn’t matter. When we needed each other it was just one call or text that reconnected us as if no time passed at all. Even then, we would always drop a text here and there to say “Hi Sis” or “Just thinking of you” or “Praying for you today”.
Even with things such as this blog. She has been my encouragement. Cleva herself has a very real and truthful blog of her own addressing her Single Mommy Life to 4 beautiful children (we are so similar). When I told her I was thinking of starting a blog of my own, her immediate response was “DO IT!” I tried to talk myself out of it several times.
- I don’t have the time
- What if no one reads it?
- I want it to be a success
Her response to all my excuses. “DO IT”
She is always my cheerleader and at times my worse critic. It’s things like that about our friendship that at times baffle me. We can both be very blunt and even brutally honest with others and especially with each other. Yet somehow it works. We may get mad or even hurt but we say it. “Ok, I think you went a bit too far with that one” or “Alright I need to take a few to deal with that” and then we return and either agree to disagree or thank the other for the honesty. Somehow the friendship, the sisterhood still endures. Why? I think it’s because Cleva is just that, a sister, more than just a friend. If she weren’t I am sure there would have been plenty of times my bluntness would have ended the friendship. Yet somehow we always either forgive or forget.
When she recently decided she was going to make a major move from her hometown in New Jersey all the way to North Carolina I was ecstatic because it meant for the first time we would actually be in the same state! Now all we can do is plan how we are going to actually connect our Kiddies and do things together! It’s amazing how we have been friends sisters for over 10 years and our Kiddies don’t truly know each other. Yet I am sure that won’t be true for long. When her girls asked who I was recently she didn’t say my friend Tiffany, she answered your Auntie Tiffany and I say the same when I speak of her to my Kiddies. Why? Because we are more than just friends…we are sisters!
Do you have any friends your consider to be more than just a friend? How long have you been friends?
What type of adversities has your friendship endured?