This word evokes so many questions, so many memories, and one HUGE smile. After a weekend at home, I've come to appreciate and understand this word, this idea, more than ever before.
What does it mean to "be friends"? Perhaps the details vary from person to person and relationship to relationship, but I think there are all-encompassing foundations upon which all friendships are built. Friendship is based, I think, on love and respect, on authenticity and forgiveness, and on a mutual, genuine appreciation. With friendship there are risks, but upon becoming friends, one is saying that these risks are worth taking--that there is something within this person that is precious and worth knowing. What a beautiful idea it is when someone wants to become friends, for they are really saying, "I want to know you and be known by you because there is something in you that is precious to me."
But what of relationships that go from "more than friends" to "just friends"? What does that mean? What does that look like? It happens all the time. Perhaps this is where the foundations of friendship are put to the test--love, respect, authenticity, forgiveness, and appreciation. In order to truly be friends, both people have to move past anger and confusion and hurt, and step into the foundations, especially authenticity and love. Why these two? Because being yourself, being honest, with someone whom you have hurt and/or who has hurt you is so hard, but so worthwhile, for there are then no questions, no things left unsaid, and nothing hidden. It is you in your most vulnerable, and I think it is when the image of God is most recognizable. And why love? Because with love comes forgiveness and respect...with love comes the ability to laugh together again and the courage to cry if you need to. Love destroys bitterness, and from love can spring forth the small flower of friendship threatened by the winter of a breakup.
So as the theory is fleshed out, what of the practical? This is where prayer begins--prayer for peace, joy, and wisdom...and grace. Always grace! Grace lifts you off the floor and walks you out the door. Grace makes a smile genuine and grants courage to the disheartened. Grace is what allows us to love, to laugh, and to call other people our friends. Grace is what we so desperately need in all friendships, and it is so graciously bestowed by the Lord that I am overwhelmed so often at His goodness. I see Him in my friends--in Dan's loyalty and forgiveness, in Elizabeth's constant journey and "realness", in Jason's courage to ask me the hard questions, in Diana's understanding and readiness to listen, in Neil's strength of character and consistancy, in Connie's precious and loving heart, in Justin's humor and steadfastness, in Heather's kindness and mercy, in Jenny's prayers and laughter, in Kylah's undying love from afar, in Amy's challenging statements, in Steph's passion, in Alan's love for people and penchant for adventure, in sweet Lana's constant and expressed love of me that I treasure...I could go on and on--John, Eric, Erin, Lindsay, Caleb, Nic, Bubba, Dave Atkins, Ashley, Jane...
The Lord has blessed me with such fierce friends whom I love dearly. I hope ya'll know how much I love you DEARLY! You are always on my mind and in my prayers. I wish I could see you everyday and know you more with every minute we spend together.
There are some friendships where we are trying to figure it all out--what does it mean and what does it look like? I don't know, but I will say that I am excited to find out...
With all my love, respect, authenticity, forgiveness, and appreciation--