Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Power of Friendship

I have been greatly rejoicing in my friends recently. We had the pleasure of hosting several friends who came to visit over the Summer. Two "college days" friends of my husband came to visit, and one of my friends that I've known since graduate school also stayed with us for a couple of days. Each visit had its own flavor, and each one was special in its own way. These are friends that we don't get to see often, and every minute with them is worth its weight in gold, if minutes can be weighed.

Last week I took my kids on an adventure to San Francisco. We rode the local light rail system (BART) with a more local friend and her kids. We walked by the Ferry Building and then up to Yerba Buena Gardens, which is (ahem) a bit of a hike for six kids and two moms. Along the way I lost (well to be accurate I inadvertently abandoned) my backpack - which contained many important items including my purse, my car keys, and our return tickets on BART. When I realized it was probably back by the Ferry Building I looked in horror at my friend and just said, "Can you take the kids?" She replied, "Call me if you need anything." (She didn't even chew me out for my absent-mindedness!) In between kicking myself all the way back to the Ferry Building and praying to God for a miracle, I marvelled at the strength of a friend who would in the bat of an eye take on my kids in the middle of a crisis and offer more help if needed. If you want to know the end of the story: the backpack was there, untouched, unharmed, slightly warmer from a nap in the sun, and yes my estimation of the honesty of people in general did go up just a pinch. My belief in answered prayers...well!

On the other side of the board, we have several friends that are hurting. Their reasons are personal and even without putting names to them it feels wrong to give details, so let me just say there are half a dozen people around us experiencing truly traumatic life changes and conflicts that are potentially overwhelming. I'm not talking about hangnails here. I am a bit of a "fixer" and it agitates me to no end to know I have friends with problems that I can't fix for them. I can dispense hugs, I can "take their kids" so to speak, I can spend time with them and encourage them, but I can't fix it.

Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times,/ and a brother is born for adversity." (NIV)

The Hebrew word used here for brother is 'ach (awkh), which can mean literal brother, but is also used in the sense of "brother by choice, ally, companion, or colleague." (Strong's Concordance, 251; and Vine's Bible Dictionary) In other words, people were made to stick together - through lost backpacks and high water. We are meant to support and encourage one another.

There's another quote out there on Facebook that grabbed my attention this week, "Never make someone a priority when they just make you an option." It sounds good on the surface, and probably is at some level sage advice, but after thinking about it a minute I thought to myself, "I'm glad Jesus didn't buy that bumper sticker." Speaking only for myself, I made Him "an option" for a long time before I realized how He made me (and the whole world) a priority.
John 15:12-14 (NIV) - Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. [emphasis mine]
Romans 5:7,8 (NIV) - Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. [emphasis mine]
I hope, as with all things, that when it comes to friendship I can have the attitude of Christ.


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