Proverbs 18:24 One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
I was born and raised in the south. I love the South, Southern traditions and Southerners. I love our lingo, how we talk slow, how we wave at people we see on the road, even if we don’t know them. I love how we say yes salty and no sir, no matter if they are older or younger than us. I love iced tea, pecan pie and fresh squeezed lemonade.
Small country stores were a Southern thing I remember too. As kids, we would ride our bikes to Greene’s Country Store. On our way to the store we would check the ditches for glass Coke bottles. Mr. Greene would give you .05 for every bottle we turned in. By the time we got to Greene’s Country Store we would have enough money to buy a Coke and a pack of peanuts or a candy bar. My favorite candy bar was Zero!!
We would pull a glass bottle of Coke from the chest-style vending machine that’d wouldn’t accept change anymore and grab a pack of Lance’s Spanish-Roasted Peanuts from the rack on the wall. The ritual, a sweet Southern tradition, was simple: Open the bottle of Coke and take a couple of swigs. Tear off the corner of the cellophane sleeve–one of those single serving-size packages that contain no more than a handful of peanuts, the ones with the rusty skins still attached–and shake some nuts into the bottle. Then drink. The first few sips were the best, when the Coke was at its coldest and the peanuts at their salty crunchiest. If you lingered, the Coke got warm, the peanuts turned soggy, and the whole thing was about as appealing as drinking from an old bottle that’s been dredged from the bottom of a pond. Sweet and salty. That’s what made the drink so good.
In the South, best friends were siblings, cousins and your closet neighbors. We learned everything together, including how to fight, love and forgive. After I married, my husband joined the navy and we moved from SC to Florida, which was the beginning of our travels. I missed the Southern traditions, my family and my friends. Through the years, I had a lot of friends, but none that compared to what I had left behind.
I met some amazing women. Grew up with them, cried with them and did life with them. BUT, through all those years and all the traveling, I did not find that Southern kind of friend that I missed so much from my childhood. UNTIL about 12 years ago.
My husband became a pastor after leaving the military. We were back to moving around. People would come and go in our lives, so it made it difficult to become close to anyone.
About 14 years ago we moved to a small town about 45 minutes away from family. I really did not want to go, but knew we had to go where God led us. For the first few years, I meet a lot of people who were nice and kind but not my childhood type of friend that I wanted and missed so much. God was about to bless me with two of those kind of friends. Today, I want to honor one of those friends.
One day, I met a neighbor, Sheila. She would bring her children and drop them off at our church then go home so she could get a break from her kids. Her husband was an over the road truck driver, so she was kind of like a single mom. She was not interested in church and definitely not interested in being friends with the pastor’s wife. Before long, I forced my way into her life and literally into her house. I guess since she couldn’t get rid of me, she gave in and decided to become friends.
In the last 12 years, we have lived life together. She and her entire family got saved and baptized. We have celebrated the birth of new grandkids, mourned death together, her husband and my dad, we have fought and made up, we have started businesses together and closed businesses together. She has been my best friend in the best of times and in the worst of times. She has told me to pull up my big girl panties more times than I can count, yet she has stood on the fighting line with me when I was wronged. I like to think we work because I am the sweet and she is the salty in our relationship. I am the Coke and she is the peanuts. She might disagree. Whatever we are, we work!
This week, one of my best friends moved to another city for a fresh start. I am so happy for her! Of all the people in the world she deserves happiness. She says she will visit because her kids are in the area, and I know she will. Like memories from my childhood, I will miss her very much, but she will never be forgotten. If you don’t have this kind of friend in your life, you are missing out on a lot. Proverbs 18:24 says, one who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. I am here to tell you that this kind of friend is rare, but they do exist. I am fortunate enough to have another best friend here in the town where I live, Kelly. She and I have been friends as long as Sheila and I been friends and our friendship is just as special but different. She is the sweet and I am the salty in that relationship. Pray that God will send this type of friend into your life and when he does cherish your friendship with them forever.
This blog is dedicated to my sweet and salty friends who make life more interesting and fun. May you find your sweet to your salty or vice versa, at least one or twice in your lifetime. I will miss you my friend!