Old Friends, New Friends, True Friends

In Life Reflections by Paula Stone Williams

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Paula Stone Williams

Paula Williams

I have always made friends easily. During most of my life there were at least 3 or 4 people I called best friend. I could never choose just one. When I was very young, before the world insisted I behave like a boy, my best friends were Diane and Kathy and my girl cousins. From 6 to 16 my best friend was Bob. I still think of him often, though I haven’t seen him in 35 years.

In high school my friends were John and Lynn (a boy), though I would love to have been closer to Jennifer, Marilyn and Alma. But again, the boy thing was an issue, so I kept my distance. For 25 years my best friends were Rob, Rick and David, one in town, two far away. Now that I am a woman, almost all my friends are females, and I love female friendships. There is less competition and more collaboration. The conversations are deeper and involve a lot more words. Guy conversations have a word count. Girl’s conversations go until they are done, which might be months. My closest friend is still a guy, David. We speak every week. There has been a lot to work through, but he never stepped away to catch his breath. He has been there from the beginning, on good days and bad. Consider yourself lucky if you have even one of those friends during your lifetime.

Not all of my friendships have always been healthy. In some I was the dominant friend, setting the agenda and deciding the rules, not always a good thing. In others I allowed my friends to manipulate me, something that puzzles me to this very day, since I am not easily “handled.” I tended to gravitate toward friendships with people who were smart. My mind moves rapidly and enjoys the company of the like-minded. I have never suffered fools gladly and it has always bothered me. I’m pretty sure Jesus suffered fools gladly.

Some of my friends were not real people, but don’t try to tell me that. Here at Rebel Storytellers, Laura Buffington wrote about her friend David Letterman, which prompted me to think about some of my friends.

Jayber Crow taught me it was all right to ask questions that had no answers. Hawkeye gave me hope when he fell apart on a bus and thought a crying baby was a chicken and Sidney the psychiatrist had to nurse him through his denial. Will Barrett (in Walker Percy’s The Second Coming) went into a cave to either die or find God, but he got a toothache and didn’t do either and it was okay. Roberta was the boy who turned out to be a girl on The Swiss Family Robinson and I wanted to tell her about me. Mackenzie McHale on The Newsroom was the woman in media I would love to have been. And when Jack realized he was called to be the next Jacob on LOST, I knew I was called to this life and I screamed and yelled at God for hours, who said nothing. All very real friends, present at key moments of conversion in my life.

My best friend is Cathy. For all the things we have not figured out about this messy journey, this much we know. She is my person and I am hers and that will not change. (I know you want me to write about how we are working through all of this, but that won’t happen. Some things are private.)

I have never really thought of Jesus as a friend. I think it was the Sunday School pictures. He always seemed so other from me. I liked John though, particularly when he was old and wrote about love. I always struggled with Paul. I know, ironic.

Now I am thinking of all the other friends with whom I have spent less time, but the friendship runs deep, like Stan and Florence, Charlie and Eileen, Pat and Janice, Briggi, Anne, Sharon, Jen, the other Jen, Brian, Joe, the other Joe, Allie, Mark. I’d better stop because even though I’m female I still have a word count.

You cannot legislate friendships. They simply happen. Some are meant for a season and some for life. All are gifts to be treasured and never taken for granted. I know that, especially now. And one more thing. It is nice, after so many years, to call myself friend. I like the woman I see in the mirror. I am glad she came out to play.

And so it goes.

Photo (Flickr CC) by Paulo OtÄvio

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Paula Stone Williams

Paula Stone Williams

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For 35 years I worked with the Orchard Group, a church planting ministry in New York. For most of that time I was Chairman and CEO. For 12 years I served as a weekly columnist and Editor-At-Large for Christian Standard, a leadership magazine. I was also a teaching pastor for two megachurches. Those responsibilities ended when I transitioned to live as Paula. I currently serve as a pastoral counselor, church and non-profit consultant, writer and speaker. You can read my weekly blogs at Rebel Storytellers, and at I am a runner, hiker, and avid mountain biker. The first two are relatively safe. The third, not so much. Still, I pedal. Cathy and I have been together for 42 years. She is a retired public school teacher and practicing psychotherapist. We have three children and five grandchildren.
Paula Stone Williams

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