‘A friend loves at all times’

Proverbs 17:17

On the 30th of July, I’ll be sipping prosecco and gorging on a delicious brunch; all whilst being surrounded by friends and family. There’ll be funny memories being shared and perhaps even a labour story from my mum. Too much cake will be eaten and I’ll be reminded how loved I am.

My year of being 26 is almost over and so much has happened in 12 months. It has stretched my resilience and tested my friendships; it’s questioned my health and examined my faith. Here’s a snapshot of some of the key things that have happened.

I had a breast cancer scare.

The lump was irritating and it became uncomfortable to wear a bra. I headed to my GP and she calmly sent me to the hospital. After having a specialist check the lump and have an ultrasound scan, I was told I was clear. No cancer. My mum went through the anxious process with me and I never felt alone.

I became a published author.

My desire to equip youth workers and break the silence on mental/emotional health in young people became a tangible resource. After many cups of coffee and fighting off the self-doubt gremlins, a book was written. The folk at Kevin Mayhew publishers took a chance on this freelance youth worker and published the book ‘Exploring Emotional Health’ for all to see (and buy).

I moved for the third time since getting married in 2015.

My husband and I joined the property ladder and purchased our first home. It was a whirlwind of learning the mortgage lingo and packing up our material life, again. Our family and friends helped pack boxes, answer tearful phone calls and carry our belongings up two flights of stairs to our new home – No. 6.

I became chronically depressed.

My mind went into an incredibly dark place which many couldn’t see, yet it left me debilitated with chronic depression. A monthly trip to the doctors began and I started the process of taking new medication and therapy. My friends picked me up of the street in the early hours of the morning. My husband stuck by me in the darkest of times.

As I reflect on the highs and lows, the positives and negatives, I realise how true the verse ‘A friend loves at all times’ is for me. I’ve learn that friendship comes in all sorts of forms and goes beyond having a ‘bestie’. My mum, in-laws, work colleagues and friends have all shown elements of ‘friendship’ to me and loved me.

At the end of July, not only will it be my 27th birthday, but also International Day of Friendship. A day where the United Nations encourages everyone to celebrate friendships – accumulating bonds of camaraderie and developing strong ties of trust – between people, countries, cultures and individuals.

I challenge us all to think about the last year of our lives and celebrate those that have contributed to us being loved at all times. Take a moment and think, how can you intentionally celebrate International Day of Friendship this year?

This article was commissioned by Lifewords. The full version will be featured on 30/07/2017.

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