As the give and take began to move at a fever pitch, all I could think about was how good it was to be with those who I’d been friends with for decades! The old adage is that some friends are for a reason, some for a season, and some for a lifetime. The latter are the type of friends I am talking about. And in many respects, it has nothing to do with the duration of the friendship, but rather the dynamic of the relationship.
At its core, the friendship I am specifically suggesting is one of mutual respect, mutual affinity, and mutual affection. There is a strong level of recognition and appreciation of the individual as the unique person he or she is, and there is no desire to change the person into being someone else. There is also a deep level of connectedness. Sometimes this is based on the original connection, like through a group or an activity. Regardless of what initially brought you together, as the friendship has matured, so does the depth of the bond. And finally, there is a level of unconditional love that has the capacity to weather not only time, but a variety of challenges that are an inevitable part of any journey.
I have always found the following passage from John 15:13-17 to be quite poignant on friendship.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
Jesus clearly seems to be suggesting the type of relationship he desired with those closest to him. A relationship that was based on love, respect, and even sacrifice for those that he saw as his friends. It is as we hear in the popular hymn “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” originally written by Joseph M. Scriven as a poem for his mother:
“Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
take it to the Lord in prayer.”
A “friend so faithful” is what Jesus modeled for us and I believe desires for us to share with others.
I feel completely blessed to have the friends I have to share the journey with. And I continually strive to be open to the possibility of opportunities for new friends to share in the journey.