Ode to the Marble Jar Friends

If you’ve been reading, you know how much I love Brené Brown’s work. I finished a free e-course of hers on trust in which she described a concept that illuminated my thinking on friendship.

Brené describes trust as a jar, and you build trust with someone when you do actions that put marbles in that jar. This concept is not revolutionary, but what was eye-opening to me – and to her – was that her research showed that it’s the small gestures that fill jars – remembering someone’s family members’ names, checking in after a big meeting someone had at work.

I started thinking about the people I consider “Marble Jar Friends,” and I realized she is right. I am grateful that one particular Marble Jar Friend has granted me permission to write about our friendship.amy

Amy and I grew up on the same street, separated by just 5 houses, and she was my first friend. We are very different people and do not have much in common. We do not talk to or see each other on a regular basis.

On the surface, it might appear that we are friends solely due to our shared history and the fact that we have been present for each other’s big events – weddings, funerals, births.

These big events are important. But it’s the small ones that fill the jar and continue to sustain our friendship.

When we played house when we were little, Amy always let me be the working executive going off to do my own thing while she “babysat” my (Cabbage Patch) Kids.

Add a marble.

When we were in middle school, I wanted to try out for a chorus part in the high school’s musical. (I can’t sing. At all.) Amy agreed to sing with me so I wouldn’t have to do it alone.

Add a marble.

In high school, when an ex-boyfriend was being particularly cruel, Amy loudly asked me about my new boyfriend when he was within earshot.

Add a marble.

20160111_200007When I moved to Los Angeles in 1998 to play house with Brendan (that same “new” boyfriend!), Amy gave me a framed sign about friendship that I hung above my kitchen sink. When she bought her first home 10 years later, I gave it back to her to hang over her sink. This past summer when Amy attended our goodbye party prior to our out-of-state move, she handed me a gift, and I knew it was the picture, which now hangs above my sink.

Add a marble.

When my dad died, Amy was the first person I called from the hospital after notifying family. She was my only friend who had known him as long as I had. It was 4 am and her phone wasn’t on. Four hours later I was home alone because Brendan brought the kids to school, and I did not know how I was supposed to be me in a world without my dad. Amy’s car pulled up in front of my house, and I collapsed in her arms and sobbed before she even made it through the door.

“Don’t you have to be at work?” I asked her eventually. Work would wait, she said.

Add ten gazillion marbles.

A month later, I had surgery, and Amy remembered and called me that night to see how it went.

Add a marble.

This year was the first time my kids celebrated their birthdays away from family. Amy called both of them to acknowledge their special days. It probably mattered more to me than it did to them.

Add some marbles.

I have never heard Amy gossip. She’s told me when someone has bothered her or disappointed her, but she has not spoken ill of them or divulged their personal information. I know whatever I tell her won’t be broadcast to others, and this means she has never emptied the jar by betraying me.

I hope many people consider me a Marble Jar Friend, especially Amy. Thinking of our marble jar has made me more aware of the marbles I am putting in my jars with other people – and maybe taking out. I need to make a more conscious effort to be aware of my friend’s small moments and recognize what matters to them.

So here’s to Marble Jar Friends – may we have enough of them, and more importantly, may we strive to be one of them!

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6 thoughts on “Ode to the Marble Jar Friends

  1. Nikki says:

    Oh, this is so good. So thankful to have a handful of marble friends myself. Isn’t is such a great (and maybe sometimes overwhelming feeling) when you get to drop the marbles in? I’m always amazed.

    • Kirstin says:

      It sure is, but writing this reminded me how those marble jar moments can be so “insignificant” that we forget how powerful they are. I think letting people know they are Marble Jar Friends – and telling them why – helps to acknowledge that the small stuff IS the big stuff.

  2. kamryn2015 says:

    I absolutely love this and although I have only met Amy once during your wedding weekend extravaganza, I know most of these things about her so you have honored her by sharing:)

    • Kirstin says:

      I am shocked that you have only met her once given how present you both have been in my life. In fact, I had just taken your call when Amy pulled up to the door that terrible morning. You are another marble jar friend, for sure.

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