The Girl in the Red Dress

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To think it all started with a red dress. She stood so confidently and carelessly, that the beautiful beach sunset behind her was only an insignificant backdrop. Her smile filled her soft face with charisma and in that completely trivial moment, I decided to stop scrolling. Usually, I find Facebook’s friend suggestions entirely annoying, but when I saw her little picture pop up, I was overcome with a feeling I still cannot explain. Deep in the pit of my stomach, something directed me to stop.

Like a total weirdo, I stalked her profile. Actually, like a total normal person, because—who are we kidding anymore? The more I found out about her, the more I was amazed. I remember thinking to myself: This is crazy; we are exactly alike. And on an even weirder note, I remember thinking: I bet we would be really good friends.

Then, in perfect timing, my place of employment, Wild Rose Boutique, put out a hiring notice.

Generally, I am not one to interfere with other people’s lives or reach out to them in any way at all—especially not a stranger—but in this case, I just did it. I cannot explain the complete conflict of character because I do not even understand it. I simply had a feeling. I felt that she would be a perfect fit: for the job and for me. So I messaged her and asked if she would be interested in applying… and she turned me down.

For two months, life went on. I went to school and work and peddled through the routine of everyday life. In October, I set off on a trip to Uganda. My mind was completely renewed and cleansed of all reality of American life as I traveled through the country without any sort of online connection—I forgot everything momentarily. Then, as I sat at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, trying to catch up on two weeks’ worth of emails and notifications, her message came through.

They say that you have to wait on good things—plant seeds, be patient, and let them bloom in their own time—but I always thought that was crap. That day, though, and every day since, I have been so glad that I planted the seed and waited instead of trying to force it to bloom, or growing restless, stomping my foot and walking away. In waiting, I met my best friend, and the person whom my soul has needed to help it thrive.

Sidney is unique. I may get in trouble for this, but she is like my mom. What I mean, is that unlike a lot of my other friends, she does not take my nonsense. I can be dramatic and sassy and completely ridiculous, and you bet she will let me know. In truth, it makes me happy when she calls me out and holds me accountable, because at the end of the day, I do not want to be anything less than the absolute best version of myself. She sees the girl I have the potential to become when I stop holding myself back with fear, distractions, and some very clever sarcasm.

We do have a lot in common, as I originally fashioned, but we are also different in so many ways. Sidney and I are not two peas in a pod; we are Donkey and Shrek. She is kind, accepting, bright, and energetic—and most important of all, she always searches for the best in people. I, on the other hand, am the smelly ogre. As we learned, ogres are like onions; you have to peel back their layers to reveal their true promise. Not many would stick around to peel back all the layers I have built up around myself, but she did it—and in record time.

Now that I know her, I feel like a bright red dress is the most fitting piece of clothing to compliment her bold personality. She is courageous, and incredibly honest. She is confident in who she is and passionate about the things and people she loves. She is motivated, and she doesn’t give up on what she believes in. She is kind and hospitable, charitable and selfless. She can be soft and still sturdy, and she can be a force, yet still impeccably delicate. I think her only flaw may be that she doesn’t realize how quickly and radiantly she lights up the room for everyone else.

She makes me reevaluate what it means to be a good friend, and a good person.

Proverbs 27:19 says: As in water, face reflects face, so the heart of a man reflects the man.

I used to think that the best friends were the ones who agreed with me and took part in the same nonsensical laziness, jokes and careless actions that I did, but what I have found is that a best friend is someone who challenges me and constantly knocks on the door of my thick bubble, insisting that I come out.

Sidney is different because what you see with her is what you get. There are so many Facebook profiles that make a person seem smart and kind and compassionate, but so many of those profiles are also just a screen shading the ugly truth of who someone actually is. However, she is the exception—transparent as the water, her profile is an effortless reflection of who she is and what she carries in her heart. She has been magnificently and ruthlessly honest from the beginning, and it is one of the things I admire about her the most.

I have never had a friend exactly like her, and now that I have her, I hope I never lose her.

Just as the Lord giveth, he has taken away. God can remove people from our lives for a variety of reasons: they keep us from him, they hide our potential, or they are toxic to our livelihood. I had to lose the friends that weren’t right for me before I could receive the ones who were. It does not mean that those friends were bad people, they were just not a good fit for my life. It is difficult to unlearn what we have always known, but it is possible, and is often the greatest gift we can give to ourselves.

What I have learned is this: if something is for you, it will not run or hide or avoid being yours. Sidney did not think she wanted a job at the Wild Rose at first, but in the end it was where she needed to be and where I needed her to be.

The bible says many things about friendship, its importance, and the effects it can have on us—both positive and negatively. The book of Proverbs discusses many of these significance’s:

Proverbs 11:4Where there is no guidance, a people fails, but in abundance of counselors there is safety.

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

Proverbs 27:17Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.

I think we often look at friendship as a gift from God, when in fact, it is a necessity. He created us to be creatures of love and gave us a to need to thrive off of others. Friendship is not this perfect entity—it is as messy and chaotic as any relationship. However, it is fatal to remove ourselves from the friendships that bring out the madness, and anger, and frustration, and laziness in us. Who we hang out with shapes who we are. Stick with the people who pull the magic out of you at any cost; those who yearn to know you truly and deeply will love you without regard.

Because Sidney is so driven and committed and enthusiastic, just being near her forces me to have those qualities too. I graduated from college last week—if it was not for her gentle yet consistent badgering, I would not have left college in the place that I did. She made me want to try my hardest and actually get involved with the people and activities on campus. All of the friends I made in college, I made in the last semester. For the first time, I took an in-person class and looked forward to it, as opposed to the online classes, night courses, and a few in-person classes I took reluctantly before. I actually walked across stage at graduation and felt proud—and I even decorated my cap. I think the biggest change of all though, is that I am sharing all of this. She peeled back my layers, not because she was trying to, but because that is just the type of person she is: incredibly caring and splendidly cunning.

She is a modern day Ruth. Just as Ruth left her people and her land and her gods behind to stay with her widowed mother-in-law, Sidney leaves her needs behind to care for the friends and family in front of her. She is loyal, welcoming, and gallant in the seamless way a friend should be.

If you struggle with friendships or relationships, remember that you are a child of the King, and you are worthy of time, adoration, and gentleness. Do not settle for fleeting devotion and selfish appreciation—and do not be the friend who only takes and never gives. Timing is everything, and the perfect friend will compliment your strengths and weaknesses in the flawless way God intended them to. People will treat you however you allow them to; if you want to see a change, make one. Stop settling for the same people who are not right for you, or who may have been right for you at one point, but aren’t anymore. It is only as complicated as you make it.

And to Sidney,

You are honest in your actions, and you give the entire world great reason to love you. Cling to being great, generous, and grand.

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