Last night I went to a movie with four of my friends. We laughed so hard at the antics the four friends on the screen went through. I think each of us could relate to the friendship displayed as these ladies traveled together, got in trouble together, and declared allegiance to the friendship at the end. And I wondered, why are friends so important?
When I was a child, we moved around a lot. I attended twelve different schools, in three different states, two for each in grades one through six. I never seemed to be in one place long enough to learn how to get to know other children my age. I never knew what it meant to have friends.
The closest I came to making friends was after Mamaw died and I went to live on the farm with Mom and Dad. I was in the last part of 6th grade and scared to death. I always had that long southern drawl no matter how many times Dad told me to talk right. I was in a school where most of the kids had been together since first grade. That is a click hard to break so I sat alone on the bus, ate alone at lunch, and read during recess.
High school was another thing. It was in the same building, and I had been with the same kids since 6th grade. I made friends with a couple of girls, Susan and Cheryl were my favorites. They would come to my house and we would sit and they would talk about boys and clothes and the current music that was playing on the radio. I loved listening to them, but I never learned how to join the conversation. And here is the strange part, I was ok with all of this. I had been alone for so long that I actually liked being alone. I liked being on the outside of the inside group. I guess because I didn’t know any difference.
Enter adulthood and I learned to be lonely. Suddenly I wanted other women to talk to, share with, go shopping with. I was a new mother, in a new church, and I wanted to be with others like me. Again, most of the adults in the church had been there since the church was formed or at least had been raised there and were now raising their own children who formed the children’s click of belonging. I was still on the fringe of friendships.
OK, enough of me. So… Why do we need friends? Better yet, how do we form friendships? I think we have to start with Jesus; our most important Friend. It wasn’t until I learned how to be friends with my God, that I knew how to make friends with other women. I found out that I couldn’t stand on the outside silently, I had to contribute to the friendship.
Exodus 33:11a ESV tells us that Moses knew how to make friends with God, “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” Moses sat with God and talked with Him face to face. He listened and he took time to be with God. He told God how much he loved Him and he told Him when he needed God’s help. The last part of that verse assumes that we have already learned how to be a friend! Do you think Moses felt refreshed after being with God? Do you think he felt safe knowing that he had someone to go to when things got tough and could lay it all out to Him?
I now have several friends, not because I have lived in one place for so long or because I have attended a certain church for so long. I have friends because Jesus taught me how to be a friend. He taught me that no one is perfect and our imperfections often make friendships grow. He showed me how to reach out and He taught me to be dependable, to do what I say I will do. He showed me how to listen and have compassion. He taught me honesty and integrity. All of these traits are what draw a certain type of person to us and we call them friends. Jesus was my first Friend, then He started bringing others into my life.
Last night I spent time with my friends and when we separated, we hugged. Standing there in the parking lot we expressed our desire to be together and what we do next. I can’t wait.
I love these get-togethers, but I also love those one-to-one times. When I need to talk over coffee, I will call a friend. And when a friend calls me, I will answer. We will love each other unconditionally, be there for each other, and give of ourselves to the relationship. That is the purpose of friends.