For three nights in a row, I was forced to listen to the Delilah radio show as I drove home from work at 11 pm. I blame the fact that I was so physically exhausted that I couldn’t reach up to change the radio station. During her show on each of these nights, Delilah had a caller who was sending out a song to a best friend.
The first night’s caller discussed how she had not talked to best friend in ten years due to a falling out, and she was lamenting now about moving to a city far away. The second night’s caller glorified her best friend that she had known for a week, but she knew they would be “BFFs FOREVER!” The third night’s caller talked about how she was finally becoming romantically involved with her male best friend and wanted to hear their special love song. When I heard that last story, I rolled my eyes and mustered the strength to change the radio station so I wouldn’t have to hear the lame song Delilah was going to play for them.
These radio friendship stories started me to think about all of the friendships that the Lord has blessed me with. When I was young, I thought I knew exactly what kind of friends that I needed. They just needed to fit into the Saved by the Bell and Beverly Hills 90210 group mold, and I would be set. God didn’t exactly provide that scenario for me.
Disclaimer: Men, I promise that you can continue reading this post as it will not contain any incidents of girl parties where I talk about eating cookie dough and wearing scrunchies!
It doesn’t help that society often tells us what type of friends we need to have a successful life. Glamour magazine even ran an article about “7 Friends Every Woman Needs.”
The list included:
- Kooky friend
- New friend
- Friend you’ll keep for life
- Couple friends
- 9-5 friend
- Friend who’s been there
- Friend that shows up
As I left for college, I prayed that God would bring me just one “once in a lifetime friend.” I had never prayed for a friendship like that before, and God truly blessed me. My friendship track record growing up had often been a series of broken friendships where we went from being inseparable to being strangers. I always felt the need to be a happy and perfect friend because I was too scared to let my friends know about the true me. When they discovered the secrets and struggles that I had in my life, I was afraid that they would bail. I had to keep it all together so that they wouldn’t throw a tarnished “Best Friends Forever” pendant back in my face. I always wanted a true friendship, but often got an artificial acquaintance.
As I have entered my thirties, I am just now learning to live fully in my friendships, and I treasure these genuine relationships. My friendships now fit no worldly mold. I have friends of all ages, different personalities, both sexes (that could be a blog post in itself), differing religions (another blog post topic). I have friends who are my mentors, friends who live many states away, and friends who will drop everything and pray for me in the midst of crisis.
God designed us to have a need filled when we connect in relationships with friends. He modeled for us the importance of spending time, sharing, laughing, and eating with friends. All friendships do come with an element of risk in order to grow and mature. Even Jesus was betrayed and rejected by those He called friends. But God designed us for friendships to strengthen and encourage one another. That’s why Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”
In her book Cold Tangerines, Shauna Niequist writes:
“True friendship is a sacred, important thing, and it happens when we drop down into that deeper level of who we are, when we cross over into the broken, fragile parts of ourselves. We have to give something up in order to get friendship like that. We have to give up our need to be perceived as perfect. We have to give up our ability to control what people think of us. We have to overcome the fear that when they see the depths of who we are, they’ll leave. But what we give up is nothing in comparison to what this kind of friendship gives to us. Friendship is about risk. Love is about risk.”
When I think about the heavy things that Niequist talks about—things like “taking risks” and “overcoming fears” and “giving up needs”—I’m glad the Lord didn’t give me the Saved by the Bell or the 90210 crew, and I’m grateful that friendships don’t fit anyone’s mold but His.
*Photo credit: rick