They say people flock to people who are similar in interests and personality when looking for friendships.
They could not have been more wrong with Anita and myself.
Anita and I are what I like to call a healthy dose of ‘opposites attract’. These have always been the most special friendships to me because they require a very intentional pursuit. It’s like a boy/girl relationship in that sense — there is work involved.. lots of it .. and loads of communication and tons of understanding .. but the rewards are beyond anything I’ve experienced.
Anita is every bit an extrovert. I remember the first time we met. She walked right up to me at church from the other side of the room (literally) and introduced herself. I was content with that much. She wasn’t. She went into a full conversation disregarding my comfort zone and nervous laugh. If you know me well enough, you know meeting people unexpectedly is hard for me if I have not prepped myself for it in advance. I hadn’t prepped myself for that moment. She broke the ice quick.
She is one of the most disciplined people I know. I like to call her ‘boss lady’ .. because she is in this mode .. all day, errrrrrr day. Not to say I lack complete discipline.. but mine really pales to this woman’s.. she takes the cake. When she has her mind set on something — it’s tunnel vision all the way till she accomplishes it. She should be referred to as Colonel. I may get a mouthful for that one.. *grins*
She is ALL girl. For the longest time I didn’t think she owned a pair of sweats. I’d knock her for it every time. Every time. To prove her point to me she wore black “fashionable” sweatpants when I dropped by her casa on a snow day (typical!). They didn’t look like sweats at all folks, but that’s between you and me. More than half of my wardrobe is sweats.. haha.. the SAD truth! I dress like a college student. If it wasn’t for ‘professional Sheryl‘, I would be in a hoodie, shorts, and flip-flops all day. That’s me in my element. Being with this girl has really brought me out of my element on many occasions — wearing new colors and clothes that my eyes generally wouldn’t flock to at first and make-up shopping cannot be done without this partner in crime. Outside of clothing shopping, make-up shopping is one of the things I dread the most. She really has taught me the joy of dolling up every once in a while. Yes world, you can send your gratitude to Anita Hurtado-Strok that you have not witnessed me in complete frump mode. She’d probably scare the frump outta me with her stank eye. *grins*
We also communicate very differently. I always like to say she’s the man in the relationship. A woman of not many words. She is not descriptive. I’m a storyteller. I love to hear the full story because in my head it shapes the whole thing. It allows me to better understand the person and the scenario. I’m a question-
asker abuser and she handles it like a boss.
Here’s a classic example:
“How was your day?”
Anita: Good. Busy.
Sheryl: Why was it busy? What did you do?
[Anita asking me about my day]
Sheryl: That’s a loaded question! Hmm.. I didn’t sleep as much as I wanted to and so the day started off wompy. But it began picking up as the day progressed.. I _____, and then ______ and after all that I spent some time ______. Weird right? I was just thinking maybe I should ______. What do you think?
Anita: Oh, good. Yeah, that sounds good.
It’s funny how that works right? Same question. Different personalities. Very different answers. I paint the entire picture for the day. She gives me the nuts and bolts. One approach is not better than the other, they’re just different. I love that this is the Gospel in its element — bringing together strangers and people with no similarities and stripping them of comfort zones.. and watching love evolve slowly for the sake of Another’s glory.
We deal with disagreements and arguments so differently. She waits to talk things out. I prefer to not have things linger and talk it out on the spot. You can always catch me asking “what are your thoughts??” .. her response is almost always.. “I don’t know.. I don’t agree but I needa think about this..” She is every bit confrontational. If something bothers her, she is all over it. If she has an opinion, you will know. She doesn’t get nicknamed sassafrass for nothing! I’ve always secretly wanted her boldness because I struggle with holding things in. If you don’t ask me my thoughts, I don’t generally volunteer them. Over the years, we’ve definitely had our fair share of disagreements since we both have strong personalities, but it’s been amazing to look back and see how much we have grown in extending love and mercy. I think it’s safe to say that humility has been one of our most brutal teachers. Very recently, I’ve noticed big changes in the way we approach topics we disagree on. Our love for each other and solid commitment to the Lord bringing us together has really orchestrated this. If it was up to either of us, I’m sure we’d say “I see it my way.. I care about you.. but I refuse to see your point.” — and I do think we used to be that way.. but doing life with each other and the Lord really pruning our messy hearts, this has been one of the biggest recent breakthroughs in our friendship: using our differences to build a stronger, well rooted friendship. We choose to listen not to respond, but simply to hear the other person. Then we speak in love. That’s it. No hidden agenda. That really has done volumes for us. It took us years to figure that simple Biblical concept: “walking in love” .
We think very differently. For starters, I think.. ALWAYS. Like, my brain never shuts off. It drives my poor friend nuts. I often lose sleep just thinking through things. It’s such an issue of mine, but something I have been begging the Lord to help me maneuver more effectively. I am every bit analytical. As much as this is a blessing, it’s also a big fat curse because the mind can spiral to places it should never go. This leads to bouts of anxiety. She’s able to simply curb her thoughts. Crazy. I don’t even know how that works! I call it grace.. needing lots of it.. in waves.. all day.. every day!
I think about our very different friendship and most people would look at it and may have chosen to part ways early on but I am so glad we both stuck it out because she is easily one of my closest, nearest, dearest friends. She’s the first person I call when there’s bad news and she hears everything.. the full impact of it.. ugly tears.. and calmly handles the crazy-ness called Sheryl. Outside of my own immediate family, she’s the first person I go to with good news. She’s my second big sister. I don’t expect anything less than the truth to be said from her and I absolutely love that about our friendship. She sharpens me.. it hurts.. like iron sharpening iron.. but I come out feeling stretched. She makes me a better friend. I’m glad I didn’t take the easy way out with her. It has taken time and humility and many, many conversations.. but we are both better for it. We’ve allowed the Lord to do what only He can do in and through us.
Anita, thanks for showing me how to see people through a different lens.. for teaching me the importance of fighting for the things I believe in and for embracing me in all of its entirety. You have seen the ugly and have stuck it out like a champ. Thank you for showing me by living your life what it means to be loyal and to stop running.. to simply stay and rest. Staying in our friendship has been one of my best decisions. Thanks for loving on me. Crying with me and laughing with me till you can’t see eye balls.. cause I’m Asian. *smiles* You have been one of my biggest cheerleaders and practical life coaches.. constantly keeping it real. You have shown me what it means to embrace ‘different’ and to find it attractive and to cherish it. You’ve filtered out every testosterone-filled dude in my life and have taught me the value of being truly beautiful, not in society’s way, but in the way Solomon describes virtue. You’ve called me out on every (literally) insecurity and have brought it to the light in a way that I didn’t feel beat up and bruised and walked alongside me and tackled it with me in prayer even through my tantrums. You make me brave! You make me step out of every comfort zone.. I hate it at first.. but I see just how good it is for my soul and I’ll be forever grateful for that. Thanks for making me a Titi to the sweetest little man in the world. If he learns Spanish before me.. it’s over.
Today, my heart was really overwhelmed thinking about how God has used you ridiculously in my life over the past few years and these are just simple words that describe a very non-simple love and appreciation for you. *smiles* ..I love you to the moon and back girl! Your friendship is a means of grace to me. Ps – stop secretly praying that I will find and marry a man like you.. please and thanks.. God knows I can only handle one goober at a time.. ;)
Love you boo.
“The best mirror is an old friend.” -George Herbert