A friend stopped by yesterday. That rarely happens these days. I had not seen her in some time. The gesture was quite touching. We have many in and out of our home and out table is regularly stretched to fit more-for-dinner but those are almost always on-the-calendar sort of guests. The gift of a friend who just is going to come over in the hopes of seeing you is precious. They need no preparation. You are worth the risk that they may not even catch you at home. That touched me yesterday. That felt good.
I have known what it is like to have friends, friends you thought were very close, just not seem to have space for you any more. Sometimes that is painful. Sometimes it is almost undetected. Sometimes, it is just part of the natural rhythm of life. People whom I spoke with many times a week and saw with regularity, fade into memories which are triggered by photographs that pop up on my Facebook feed. I can not quite decide which category to place this phenomenon: is it a good thing or is it a bad thing. Occasionally, I place blame on the hers or hims who drop off my regular circle. I like to take a self-righteous tour of the relationship where I point out, to no one but myself and for no other reason than to feed my ego, how they never really held up their part of the friendship and I was unerring in my attendance to it. That must indicate that I sense a wrongness in the dropping of relationships and want to ascribe blame.
There are those friends whom need absolutely nothing from you. They are steady and true. They will pop into your life when you least expect it and want no more than to remind you that you are dear to them, or to share a tale that made them think of you, or to celebrate a joy with you, or to cry over a loss with you. Selfless acts of gracious connection feed my soul.
I think of the all-too-familiar biblical passage that gets tossed about in wedding ceremonies. It comes to me as a call to friendships in general…
4Love is always patient; love is always kind;
love is never envious or arrogant with pride.
Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude;
she never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed.
She never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
she’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.b
7She bears up under everything; believes the best in all;
there is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall.
Let that sit with you for a moment. That is what we all long for in friendship. That is the good stuff. Can I hold this up to my own behavior in friendships and feel peaceful about my character…sometimes…definitely not all the time…
I suspect that 2017 will be a year where friendship will be of great importance. People who love one another can help to give perspective when the world looks bleak. Patience and kindness will be needed to counter envy and pride. Conceit, rudeness, resentment and sin will long for truth. Limitless hope will keep us from falling into despair.
This is where I will throw my energy this year. May you friend well and be friended well. May this be a year where we just stop in. May the grace of friendship sustain you.