Saturday, January 04, 2014

Friends in Low Places

Throughout our lives, we make friends, and we lose friends.  Friends we think we will be with us forever, we lose them.  Strangers become friends for life. Friendship. It is a funny thing. Those of us on Facebook have lots of friends.  People we work with, family members, long lost classmates, people of people of people of people we know. We call them friends. "Friend" is a term we use so loosely, too loosely.

If you've been hurt, you can become weary of friendships.  In Proverbs 12:26, we are told to choose our friends carefully. We all know that the wrong friends can encourage us to go down the wrong path.  I'm sure most of us have had those sketchy friends, or we may have been that friend ourselves.

But what about real friends? True friends? Proverbs 17:17 says, "A friend loves at all times." Does that type of friend really exist? At all times? 

This past year has shown me what true friends look like.

While everyone else says, "Just let me know if you need anything," a true friend doesn't wait to be told.  A meal is cooked or bought and brought over.

While everyone else says, "I'll pray for you," and forgets, a true friend actually does it and then let's you know, "Hey, you are on my mind and in my prayers. I love you."

A true friend, one who has been there and done that, speaks up for you when someone asks, "Is your husband in a safe place?" That friend knows that for a soldier, no place is safe.

A true friend hugs you and cries with you (she's usually the one who cries, but she lets you lead this time).

A true friend sends you a note, a text, an email, just a short message that says, "I love you," "Thank you," or "You are great," because that friend knows what you need to hear.

 A true friend takes care of you in amazing ways, whether by bringing you flowers, cookies, Happy Meals for your kids, pays for your lunch, or has your flat tire fixed.  This friend doesn't ask for recognition, no payback.  They do it out of  love.

A true friend is one that you've never met face to face, one who has become your life long survival sister because God connected you online, and you know that your life wouldn't be the same without her.

A true friend meets you for lunch, coffee and donuts, ice cream, or Chuck E. Cheese with the kids because she knows that moms need adult conversation.

A true friend meets you for lunch because she wants to tell you personally what she's been going through. It's important to her because she loves you that much, and she knows you love her.

A true friend stays with you through the ugly, when you are experiencing the most horrific thing imaginable, that friend stays by your side, holds your hand, and cries with you.

True friendship can and does exist.  It's those friends in low places that are true.  Sure they are there during the fun times, the easy times.  But they are also there through those ugly times, ugly beautiful is what Ann Voskamp calls it. Aren't those the times we need someone the most? 

When I surrendered my life to Christ, my circle of friends changed. Partly my choice, partly the choice of others.  I think some people considered my husband and I as not fun any more.  I'll tell you though, the Christian friendships I have made since then have been amazing, much more meaningful than those I lost.  The best times I've had have been with those who share the same faith as me.  Our joy is found in Christ instead of parties and alcohol.  Let's just say that at our church staff dinner, we had the best.time.ever! Pastor and his wife, associate pastors and wives, music minister and husband, and youth minister and wife. There was laughter like you wouldn't believe.  And hanging out with our church friends, those last minute invitations because we are all busy and can't plan (sometimes intentional doesn't work). I have even maintained a friendship with a college friend; we share a love of Jesus and that has kept us close. 

Those are the friendships that last, that are meaningful. The ones created and wrapped in the love of Jesus.  Because you know what? He is the greatest friend of all.  Yes.  The greatest friend of all.  Jesus laid down his life for me. For you.  And you know what John 15:13 says, "Greater love has no one but this, than to lay down one's life for his friends." And that is just what Jesus did.  Those that stay with us in those ugly moments, those dirty moments of life, that's what they are doing in a sense.  Honestly, no one really wants to go there. No one wants to hold on to a friend as she is losing a baby, a marriage, or a job. No one wants to hold on to a friend who is lost, lonely, and in a low place.  Be we do it. We do it because friends in low places mean the most. 

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