Life is filled with rocky grounds, isolating moments and dark days. On one of my darkest days in October 2018, the Lord reminded me that even dark skies reflected His majesty. I thought about how that might look for my relationships. How every relationship, whether purely platonic, blood or romantic, reflected God’s grace, love and majesty.
The past few weeks have been an emotional roller-coaster for me. I had days when I thought perhaps it would be best not to close my eyes to rest, lest I fall into a slumber I could not be awakened from, and therein, die of a broken heart. Oh no, I was never going to do anything silly or suicidal- but the days were a poignant display of doom and they were heavy, often too heavy.
I am here
I remember one day calling a friend, but not being able to say anything. She stayed on the phone and listened to me cry, she called my name a few times and with a placid voice she said “I’m here, if you want to talk. I am here, and if you want me to just listen, I will still be here. As a matter of fact, if you want me to just shut up, I will sit with you, and I will still be here”
In this moment, I recalled (Job chapter 2, verse 13) “[Job’s] friends sat down with him upon the ground…, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great” In no way do I think my own grief is comparable to what Job faced, what I do know, is that my friend drove for almost an hour while there was a snow storm threat to come and sit with me, and if she never said a word, I knew for sure, that she was there.
Consider how Jesus’ intentionality when it comes to friendship is one for ardent consideration. I reckon that when Jesus was choosing His disciples, He must’ve considered that you would have some that would always want to defend him like Peter, and others like Andrew, whose main purpose was just to make a connection – a connection that would be of such value that Jesus would later call this same Peter- the rock and foundation of the Church that the gates of hell cannot prevail against. (Matthew chapter 16, verse 18). Jesus knew that some friends would be there, just so they could be there.
Friends on purpose
Jesus had friends on purpose, for a purpose. As I reflect on my own friendships, I am awe-amazed at how all of them came into being, and how each serve their own significant purpose. The same friend, referred to above, allowed me to meet other people who are now in my most intimate circle.
One particular couple from this circle- after hanging out together for about a year, has blessed me in more ways than I can imagine. Beyond material gifts, they have caused me to have a new take on friendship and a new take on life. The level of grace, gratitude and humility they constantly demonstrate makes you want to show up, not just for them, but show up for others and show up for yourself.
I remember as a teenager, I would often have seasonal friendships. My mother equated that to mean perhaps I was incapable of being a good friend. I always referred to a poem I learnt in primary school –“friends are splendid pals to have, to this we all agree, but if you want to have good friends, a good friend you must be.” I carried that with me and made a promise to myself, that with all my friendships, I would give the best of me.
“A friend loves at all times” (Proverbs chapter 17, verse 17). With this love, my friends have carried me in their prayer as they have carried me in their hearts. My friends have rescued me from financial ruts, fed me, clothed me, held my hand and lifted my head. These same friends have scolded me, forced me into introspection and told me hard, painful truths.
Worth the time
As an adult, we realise how busy life can get. I for one am still trying to figure out how my parents and other adults before me kept it together. I want to believe they had a lot of Jesus, as my prayer these days is constantly for God to give me a little more of Himself.
Nevertheless, I want to challenge us to be intentional about maintaining friendships that matter. In your circle of friendship, it may not always be the one that you pour into that will pour back into you, pour anyway. It may not be the one you give to, that gives back to you, but give anyway. Call your friends, encourage your friends, pray for and with your friends, love on your friends and make it weird. Remember that “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs chapter 27, verse 17).
We were never meant to walk this life alone. This example is seen in the creation story when God created the grass and the trees before men, the example was there, so we could see that one spade of grass does not reflect well as a healthy garden; it takes a plethora of plants (trees, shrubs, herbs and vegetables alike) to make a garden beautiful.
Great friends deserve great friends. Be the kind of friend you want and watch your life change for the better. This is dedicated to all the friends who keep loving me back to life – I dare not quote your names, but you know yourselves. My heart flows with gratitude for you every day. Thank you.