Here is something I have learned in friendships, with the full disclosure that I haven’t always been a good friend.
In the past I looked more for popularity than lasting and strong bonds, and that brought a lot of speaking out of both sides of my mouth and pretending to be just like whoever I was around to make sure people liked me.
When God showed me real friendship, He showed me that, just as Christ in the middle is necessary of marriage, it is essential in friendship as well.
Because when Jesus is at the center of your friendships this is what happens.
• Honesty is the core of that friendship. You can say, “Look, here’s why I have been distant...” or “I think I will cancel tonight because I really need a night at home with my family.” And she will support the heck out of that.
• There will be hash-it-out and work-it-out talks, because you are going to get irritated with one another at times, but Jesus will stand in that gap and remind you that your friend is worth the fight. You might even hang up on that person once or twice but no matter what you will fix it. You will do the work to keep that person in your life.
• That friend will be a rock who you might bang your head against when you’re hurting and they will let you. Because they know you and they love you and a little humanness won’t separate your bond. You can be raw and real with this person and you can show up to her house in your PJ’s and slippers and smash your face and gnarly hair up against their window until they come to the door.
• There won’t be a record of “Here’s what I did for you, what have you done for me?” Because you will just live life together, and in riding the ebb and flow, it all just comes in as a blessing. You will be blessed because she is in your life and she will be blessed because you are in hers.
• There will be times when she is busy with life and there will be times when you are busy with life, and that’s ok because you both know that you’re ok. The great thing about real friendship is understanding that even if she doesn’t return that text right away, or even if she doesn’t pick up her phone right now — or vice versa — no one is angry or demanding a response.
• There is beautiful, almost unexplainable, grace. We are not always going to offer the perfect response or the perfect advice. We might not always do the right thing. Real friendship gets that, because neither of you expect that friend to be Jesus — and no one is perfect other than Him. So, grace by the buckets is offered in a real friendship.
• There will be laughter, because there is a light-heartedness when you abandon the need to prove yourself worthy. When you know that someone won’t just stop talking to you or grow cold, and you never really know why. This friend will love you for exactly you.
• Most importantly, this friend will point you to Jesus. And if pointing doesn’t work, she will grab your face and stick it right where it needs to be. Because real friends do the hard work to keep each other on that narrow path. You will take turns doing this because we all stray, and it will be done with this beautiful harmony of nonjudgmental accountability (even if it feels judgmental at the time because sometimes we all don’t want to hear the truth). That’s because it will be done through the love of Jesus.
Truth is, you will only find a few of these people because we can’t be all the things to all the people. I believe God pairs us up just at the right time, and while some friendships last for a season and there’s nothing wrong with that, some people become designated family that God just gave to you.
So, love your people through that solid love of Christ, and you will know friendship like you’ve never known before.