Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 23, 2018

That’s what friends are for

By Bryce Kelly, Mt. Pleasant News | Mar 24, 2017

Sometimes you just need to be with people who get you – or at least that’s how I have felt recently.

Three years ago, I graduated college. I had been a Hannibal-LaGrange University student for four years. From 2010 to 2014, I ate, slept and breathed all things HLGU, and then in one day, it was gone.

As it happens, all of my close gal pals from university live in different states now, and I went through a bit of an identity crisis when we all graduated and parted ways. I had lived with, studied with, laughed with and trudged through some hard times with a stellar group of ladies for four long years. I had done more growing, learning and maturing with them than I had done in what felt like my whole life, so it came as quite a shock when miles and different time zones suddenly separated us.

Now that I’ve lived in Mt. Pleasant for a couple of years, I have slowly come to make new friends. It’s not a quick and easy process to plant new seeds of friendship, but it is certainly worth trying and then watching them grow. Some people I have reconnected with I’ve known since high school or before, while others are brand new to me. My southeast Iowa friends are very near and dear to my heart for sure, and I thank God that He has brought them into my life.

For the last couple of months, however, I have felt a longing to reconnect with the ladies that I spent so many formative years with. That said, with a bit of planning and schedule shuffling, four of us were able to meet back in Hannibal on Monday. We had all met each other on the campus of HLGU and had made our own marks on the rolling hills of Hannibal, Mo., so it seemed only right that we should all meet up where our journeys together began six years ago.

We didn’t make any big plans or have an hour-by-hour schedule laid out - that was never our style anyway. Most of the day was just spent talking, eating and driving around town. Despite our lax itinerary, we didn’t want for a good time.

And you know what, I am here to attest that a lot of laughter, mixed with a little bit of reminiscing and catching up is good for the soul. I haven’t laughed or smiled as much as I did Monday for a very long time. Between meeting Katie’s two babies, hearing about Amy’s new digs, listening to Melissa talk about her first year of married life, and all the rest, I felt a wave of rejuvenation flood over me as I made the long drive back to Mt. Pleasant later that night.

What I have come to realize from that day trip is that with those gals, it doesn’t matter how far apart me move, how many babies one of us has or where we end up in the career world, the bonds we made in college those four years are bonds that won’t break with time or distance.

Through new jobs, weddings, baby struggles, new relationships, family ups and downs and all the rest, I’ve caught glimpses of Amy, Amanda, Delores, Katie and Melissa grow and change since college. Thanks to the likes of social media and technology I can keep abreast of those moments. But honestly, there is nothing quite like a good ole fashioned face-to-face social with people you love.

If you haven’t done so in awhile, make time for the special friends in your life. In truth, we can all come up with 100 different excuses as to why you can’t make dinner plans, or why taking an afternoon off on your Saturday just wouldn’t be feasible. I get it. But the fact is that it’s solid relationships that make the peaks and valleys of life easier to tread.

As I write this, I am looking forward to the five o’clock bell so I can meet up with some friends I have made recently through Bible study. When a few of them asked me about grabbing dinner together this week, I might have normally put work or little chores around the house on the priority list. But then I reminded myself that those things could wait for a couple of hours.

Planting seeds of friendship and nurturing them to maturity takes time. It takes effort. In the end though, I don’t know what I would do without the circle of friends I have today, and I am thankful that they have put in the effort to get to know me on an intimate level, even when distance and work make it a challenge.

Years from now, I hope the new relationships I have planted here in Iowa will be just as strong as the ones I have with my HLGU gang. With effort and time, I am confident they will be.

So how is your best friend or longtime pal? If you haven’t chatted with them in a while, pick up the phone. If a coffee shop get together or a round of golf is overdue, make time today. Trust me, your soul will thank you for it.

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