The Art of Friendship

A friend is an interesting thing. Over the years, we have a variety of friendships. Some are seasonal, others last a lifetime. Returning from Texas yesterday, our hearts are filled with gratitude at the many deepening friendships. Some are new, emerging, filled with hope towards increased enjoyment and encouragement in this thing called friendship. Others have stood the test of time and distance, where reconnecting feels like weary ships returning to harbor.

To relate to one another deeply, we need to know ourselves. To know ourselves, as we all know, is not as easy as it seems and requires intention. As broken, insecure and incomplete souls, it’s often quite difficult to face our true nature. We hide behind performance, isolation, staying busy and a host of other defense mechanisms. Stephen Seamands in a book entitled Ministry in The Image of God calls these hiding places fig leaves. A reference to Adam & Eve’s reaction to their broken fellowship and newly processed shame. We humans are good hiders. I think the journey of life is designed for this revealing progression, out of the darkness, into the Light.

“Creator has no beginning. However, we humans have a beginning, and a middle. It’s for this progression we have been made.”

Irenaeus (130-202 AD)

To embrace our true self requires a reckoning of sorts, a show down, and through the great love of God as we see in Jesus, His conquering through our surrender. This process has a chance of taking place when we practice solitude. It does not, I believe, when we remain in unhealthy, frantic rhythms.

What we desperately need is the deafening sound of silence.

Penetrating whispers allowed to weave through our mind, falling, dissolving until nothing remains but the still loving voice of God. We hide behind those fig leaves I think, because we believe His voice just might speak – and we’re terrified at what He might actually say!

“In these hurried and feverish days there ‘s more need than ever for the deepening of our spiritual life through periodical detachment of the world and its need for lonely communion with God.” A quote I just read from 1928!

Jesus truly is humanities best friend.

Jesus knew who He was. He was from the Father, perfectly loved. He could stare the religious down because He didn’t need their affirmation. He was able to speak the truth in love in every situation. His love wasn’t conditioned on a response. It was uni-directional, it simply went out, found it’s target and that was it. He could do this because He was true, whole, not a brand of himself or managing questionable motivations. We can learn so much from Jesus, and I pray we can become the kind of friends that reflect His nature.

I don’t think I’ve been a great friend. Probably a poor one more often than I care to think about. I’ve spent the last decade raising kids, running business, and trying so survive in a foreign country. I’ve enjoyed people, but been protective, insecure, and someone that is purposefully difficult to deeply know.

As we get older, we become naturally more independent, but need to embrace and pursue deepening relatedness to others.

In the US/Canada, we don’t get to see our friends very often, but we are being more intentional with remaining connected. Social media is a friendly reminder, but is not friendship. We are looking forward to finding more creative ways to divest, care, and journey with those God has given us.

How do you stay meaningfully connected with your closest friends? How do you practice true self, and remain vulnerable in order that you (the real you) can be truly known by others? How do you maintain a rhythm of solitude with your Creator?

To be a good friend, I’m learning, is to fear less. There is no fear in love.

To identify with the struggles of others, and speak them as an act of solidarity. To ask questions that you yourself are still working through, and to be OK with simply journeying with others as an end.

Friends are a gift, one that is worthy of unpacking.

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