Over Labor Day weekend I took a much needed trip to Richfield, Minnesota. Embarking on this journey has grown to a pilgrimage of sorts for my friends and I.
For literal years we heard our friend Kris laud about the grandiose nature of the Minnesota State Fair. He told about the many delicious food options, but it always came down to Sweet Martha’s Cookies. The admiration he gave these cookies eventually swayed those of us in Tulsa to trek up I-35 to try for ourselves. The cookies and the fact that he moved back there, so I guess we also went to visit him too.
I hold a good cookie in very high esteem and Sweet Martha does not disappoint. For three years running, on Labor Day weekend those of us in Tulsa cram into cars on Friday after work and haul to Richfield, MN. We run around Minnesota Saturday and Sunday, and then get back into our cars and drive home on Monday. This new found tradition quickly grew to one of my favorite things we do as a group.
This group of people is a portion of the crew that developed into some of my closest friends post college. A few years back that all started to change. I hated it.
But God, ever more faithful than I even know, continues to foster these friendships in new and beautiful ways. They do not look as they once did when we had our weekly Sunday waffle breakfasts or pick up games of Frisbee Soccer, but the depth and beauty I derive from them still sweetens my soul.
In our past visits to Minnesota we ate our weight in fair food, drove to the end of I-35 so I could check “driving the length of I-35” off of my bucket list, saw all of the sights, and rented bikes and rode what felt like ten miles around beautiful lakes and waterfalls. Some of our group, myself included, opted to not do that on uncomfortable bikes again.
Every time I end up in Minneapolis I feel like Ann Perkins from Parks and Rec when she visits Bloomington. She sees all of the amazing stores, trails and more which leads her to question why she lives in Pawnee.
I get it Ann. Minneapolis seems to be filled with endless beautiful trails, great food, amazing quirky things, crystal clear water in their countless lakes, and incredibly entertaining accents. Each time I visit I wonder why I live where I live. But I digress.
For this adventure we journeyed to Minneapolis for the State Fair and cookies, explored downtown, played mini golf, went to Duluth to swim in Lake Superior and laughed, a lot.
We played miniature golf at a whimsical sculpture garden where I lost, unless you count getting the most points in golf winning. Now, this group of people is somewhat notorious for how ferociously we compete in all things. For those fifteen holes of mini golf I saw just a small piece of the evolution of our friendships on display.
The privilege of seeing this group go from a random group of people who competed somewhat heartlessly to laughing and encouraging one another at mini golf makes me realize just how much we need real relationship in our lives. I know it seems trivial, but it was beautiful to witness.
As we gathered around a table that Sunday night watching the sunset and the moon rise over our laughter and conversation, I sat there in awe. I took a moment to step back and ponder the breadth of these friendships as I grew evermore nostalgic.
These people and their influence in my life now spans about seven years. As I mulled over the many adventures, trials, and experiences with these comrades my mind reflected to how each of us individually and collectively evolves and grows in and through these friendships. I found myself there in the midst of storytelling and laughter blown away by how God has used and continues to use these people to speak truth into my life, point me to Christ, challenge my thinking, and push me to continue to grow and change.
Over time friendships morph and grow. With intention and genuine care for one another, friendships can grow into bonds that transcend logic. You see, it doesn’t make a lot of sense that we would continue to invest in people who are scattered near and far or who we know will scatter in the near future, but we do.
We do so because the value of these friendships means more to me than logic. And I love logic. When you find friends who are willing to laugh with you over personal poop horror stories, friends who will sit in a living room for hours on end sharing their hearts with one another, and friends who will have hard conversations to challenge each other’s thinking you hold on to them.
We are hardwired for connection. I write this not to brag about my cool friends and our adventures, but instead to encourage you. Encourage you to fight for friendships and connections that give life. Friendships that push you and challenge you. Friendships where you can each be your weird true self judgement free.
When you find yourself with these friendships, foster them. No matter how far you scatter, continue to pour into the connections that provide each of you with life. We need and crave people in our lives who will shuck corn in Walmart with us.