“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
– Out of Solitude: Three Meditations on the Christian Life
I recently re-connected with a friend whom I hadn’t spoken to in a while. There was nothing wrong and there had been no fracture in our relationship. But we have both gone through significant transitions in the last year or two and to be honest, we’ve both been busy. So while we each knew where the other was, we just hadn’t had the chance to talk.
He is a good friend from college. We have spent significant time together, been a part of each other’s weddings, been Godparents to each others kids and spent time in the Boundary Waters together and walked together through the loss of parents.
So a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity (the need, really) to call him. Trinity wanted him to do some teaching as a part of our adult faith-formation program this fall, and I was tasked with calling him to ask about his availability.
It was really quite amazing: When he picked up the phone and we started talking, it was like there had been no gap. Our friendship picked up right where we had left off. We talked for almost an hour, catching up on life, family, hopes and dreams. Finally, at the end of the conversation I remembered to ask him about teaching the adult forum series at Trinity. (He said yes, by the way.)
And when I hung up the phone, I was smiling…and I felt good. My spirit felt somehow lighter. It felt a little like I had just stepped outside into fresh air after sitting in a stuffy room. And I was reminded that this is what friends do for each other.
Proverbs 18:24 says: “Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family.” (The Message) Friends are gifts from God. Friends are, I believe, one of the ways that the love of God is incarnate for us in the world. It is through our friends that God often “shows up” to bring comfort and care when we are most in need of it.
We all need someone to turn to. We all need someone who will (as Nouwen says) “…share our pain…be silent with us in a moment of despair…can stay with us in our grief…who cares…”
God did not intend for humans to live alone. We are hard-wired to be together; to be a support network for each other and to care for each other. When Jesus gathered the twelve, he picked people who either were, or could become, friends with each other. Likewise, God calls us to live together, to serve together, and to become friends with one another.
My prayer is that we all have someone to call, someone who will pick up the phone, someone who will renew a relationship that lightens our spirits and can usher light into our lives.
God bless you!