"The Fantastic 4" is what we called ourselves after our first semester of our freshman year. It started as a joke, since we were the four fresh(wo)men who came in on our floor together back in 2013. We were all straight out of high-school, in the same stages of life, though from very different backgrounds.
Kaitlyn grew up in Illinois, but had recently moved to northern Wisconsin with her family.
Michelle was from Maine.
Hannah grew up in a couple of different places as a missionary kid - including Malta and Tunisia, as well as in Indiana.
And me, well, I was from Czech, as you probably know.
Yet somehow, despite not having much in common, and coming from different places around the world, we became friends. I think it happened because of that desperate need for friendships in your freshman year, where you cling to the people who are in your everyday life for security. But I think it was more than that - the Lord knew we needed each other to grow. It was only Christ that really bonded us together, nothing else.
We had our own different friend groups, but we ended up coming back together a couple of times a semester, which were always sweet times.
We took this photo together in 2013, and reenacted it for sentimental value yesterday. I graduated in December, and the other three graduate in two weeks. Though we may see each other again all together, it will never be easy after this. A quick drive into the city made it possible this time for me to join, but soon we will be more dispersed.
Here is another slightly random before-and-after photo too. 2014 and 2017. I was grateful for these friends then, and I am grateful for them now.
Truly though, "As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." Proverbs 27:17
Kaitlyn taught me to be bold and to pray for others right on the spot at any time.
Michelle taught me to be consistent and more loyal, and to give sacrificially of ourselves to others.
Hannah taught me to be present for people in the moment, and to not take myself too seriously, but be able to laugh along the ride.
They all taught me to work hard, and to love others because we are already so loved by our Heavenly Father. We may not have spent much time all together throughout the years, but we always knew we had each others' backs, and that meant more than anything during the turbulent and formative years of college.
Last night we went to a really wonderful Ramen restaurant in Wicker Park, got SOAKED in the rain on our way back to the car, stopped to get Frosty's (except for me, because of dairy!) after we were drenched, and prayed together in the car before heading our separate ways for the evening.
We will see each other again, for sure at graduation, and hopefully beyond, but this marks a turning point in our friendship. So we celebrate that, and grieve that at the same time.
May the Lord be with you all, Fantastic 4.