I had my first BFF when I was 5 or 6 years old. One day, I unintentionally sinned against her. She forgave me, but I felt the weight of my sin so acutely that I couldn’t be around her anymore without feeling shame. In retrospect, I realize it was probably my fault that our friendship failed. I didn’t understand friendship or forgiveness. All I felt was guilt and that ruined my ability to fellowship with her anymore.
The first time (yep, this has happened more than once) a friend broke up with me was when I was 13. We had been besties for several years. We’d enjoyed slumber parties, secret handshakes and shared dreams together. I adored her. Then one day, she told her mom that I said something unkind about my mom and then her mom told my mom (so complicated!). The truth was that I had not said anything unkind about my mom. I was/am simultaneously in love with and frightened by my mother (she is amazing) — there was no way I’d dis her behind her back! But my mom believed my friend and I got grounded for a month. Ironically, my friend had gone behind my back without giving me a chance to explain (maybe she had misunderstood something I did say?) or defend myself. I was hurt deeply, wondering what I had done wrong. Her and my relationship fizzled out quickly after that. I thought I must have failed my friend in some great way to make her say what she said.
It was a couple of years after that when I met Stephanie. She and I were kindred spirits. We experienced true friendship right off the bat, the kind that challenged and forgave. We loved one another very much. Our friendship was a beautiful gift from God, perfectly timed to help carry me through some really tough years. We enjoyed a sister-like closeness through college and marriage, but then God saw fit to take her into Glory. I felt lost for many years after that, but Stephanie had taught me something — I wasn’t a perfect friend, but I was definitely friend-able.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve begun to understand that the reason many people don’t have close friends is because true friendship is a lot of work. Whether people don’t have the time or the desire to sacrifice for friendship varies from person to person, but most everyone wants a real friendship. I think we need to recover the lost art of friendship. We need to stop being afraid of the work it will involve. Too often we run from the challenge or blame it on someone else. We think that the answer to conflict is to unfriend, but that is an atheistic way of thinking. God made Adam and Eve to fellowship with one another and with Him (we are designed for fellowship). Then He sent them out to work The Garden. Is it really such a leap to think that friendship is supposed to be work; designed for our sanctification and God’s glory?
I have been blessed by a really good friend over the last year. We check in with one another most days and pray, cry, laugh and encourage each other. We are both comfortable being honest with one another. We have been able to confront gently, love greatly, apologize humbly and forgive freely. We don’t need to be perfect to make this friendship golden. It is a gift and I’m so thankful to have her in my life right now. It is a testament to God’s kindness.
Are you looking for a real friendship? Do you long for a true sister in Christ?