Sweet Friends, Best Friends

How do you define “Friends”?

friends-shadow-001Do you have many friends in your life? We see people who claim socially to have hundreds or even thousands of “friends”, but in reality most of us struggle with naming a handful that will be a true friend that will stick with us day in, and day out.

There is a biblical translation that I do not always agree with in interpretation, but every so often it says something in a way that I can agree with!

Friends come and friends go, but a true friend sticks by you like family. (Proverbs 18:24 MSG)

Friends come… Friends go… But there is a true friend that is as close to you as your own family. That’s what we all need and that’s what we need the most!

Why is it so difficult today to have a friend that meets the scriptural principle? Maybe we do not have enough experiences that allow us to see this put into practice? Or, perhaps, we have been hurt by our supposed friends too often to risk putting it all on the line with another. When we look at social media, we see all the “Friends” a person has and question: Are they really friends?

I remember during grade school having a friend that I liked to hang around with for hours. We were in Scouts and school together. He lived across the ball field, pass the tennis courts, through the fence, and just a couple of streets away. I never thought it odd that we would go these distances to hang out. We covered for each other, played tricks on neighbors together – and even though our paths no longer cross, I count those memories of him as a close friend. I’ve tried to find him…Eugene!!! Where are you? No success. But I think he lived here.

During middle and high school I had another friend that lived even farther away. Still, we did a lot together. His dad had a stroke and when I would visit his house (here, I think) we would sit in the living room and he would recite his day to his dad before we went on to the task at hand. Though this friendship lasted shorter than the other, I still would count on those memories describing him as a close friend. (Source)

It was only later in life that I can look back at a connection made when we first moved to Alaska, and call someone a friend who is older than I. Someone who has been around the block a time or two. I’ve known him and his bride for close to 37 years…

A few years ago, my phone rang. Despite my hesitation at answering the phone without knowing who is calling, I picked up the phone. That moment in time began a long distance friendship with another preacher in another state. I have visited him at his home once during these past 9 years, but a friendship was started that has been rewarding – on both sides of the country!

If I could name the friends, true friends, close friends, that I have – I’m sure that I have more than enough fingers to roll their names through my fingers like a coin in a trickster’s hand. This is not to say that I do not have lots of friends, I do. And many of them are in my church! Still, there is something about having a friend that you can let down your guard with and never worry about being judged or criticized for thinking something really weird or different.

Several decades ago I met a guy on the job and we have been friends for over a quarter of a century. He and his wife have blessed our church with material we’ve used in outreach. I saw them a month or so back. He has just turned 80! I count both them as close friends. 

I am blessed with some really great siblings and parents – but we seldom see each other and are spread through 3 states. If we could drive from one end to the other, we would be 136 hours of driving, but my sister is on an island in the Aleutian chain and you only get there by plane or boat. So, since I’m in the middle, I guess they should all come here for the next reunion. Hint… I’ll find a river and we’ll enjoy a campfire reminiscing the olden days!

Think about the distance between you and your family… There are times when your friends are closer to you than that closest family member! So. Pick good friends! They are often there for you when even your own siblings can not be! Remember the proverbs above, friends come and go, so get good at making new friends. They will be there when your family cannot.

Perhaps friendship is getting to be a harder thing to experience. We are a mobile society. I have lived in the two largest states in the union, and would not hesitate living in the largest of the two, again! Social media, cell, email – all these things have made it easier to connect and reconnect.

“Friends show their love in times of trouble, not in happiness.” ~Euripides (Source)

I can name one pastor that is a good friend today and I know if I need him he will be there…That’s friendship.

heart-001But something can be said about a close friend, physically, that you can shut down the day with and enjoy the waning hours together. That friend is my wife. We are not only stuck with each other, we are stuck “on” each other. Nearly 43 years of marriage and counting. Love you Brenda!