It reminds me of this verse:
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (New International Version)
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
The italics were mine!
I have recently been reading a book by Shauna Neiquiest called "Cold Tangerines". It's just a collection of stories from her life (at least the parts that I've read so far) and then what God has taught her through these stories. One of the chapters talks about friendship. Here are some of Shauna's thoughts:
"Friendship is acting out God's love for people in tangible ways. We were made to represent the love of God in each other's lives, so that each person we walk through life with has a more profound sense of God's love for them. Friendship is an opportunity to act on God's behalf in the lives of the people that we're close to, reminding each other who God is. When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life. We get to remind one another about the bigger, more beautiful picture that we can't always see from where we are."
This quote reminded me of the Young Adults of Peninsula Covenant Church and my mini-family that I have there, the ones that I live my life out with on a day to day basis. I was reminded of the fall retreat last year where we talked about what God's love really looked like in relationship--totally sacrificial, for the benefit of the other person. And I remember living that out in the days that followed the retreat and how HARD it was and it was messy and it wasn't easy. . .and it's still not easy, but it is GOOD! I love that my community in the Bay area lives that out for one another, especially my little mini-family. We love and support each other in ways that don't make sense because we love each other with God's love. . .we are showing God to each other and that challenges me to be less of me and more of more the image of Christ to other's I'm in relationship with.
"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. If we can control it and manage it and manufacture it, then it's something else, but if it's really love, really friendship, it's a little scary around the edges."
This quote reminds me of my group of friends from college, the Beatniks. When we first started hanging out, we did so in the name of fun and laughter and friendship. But, now, as I look back over our seasons. . .the sorrow of death, the grief of lost friendships, the joy of new additions (husbands and babies), the frustrations of lost jobs, infertility, lack of eligible males (*wink, wink*), crisis of faith, etc, I see that we really did take the risk of living out our lives with each other. We have crossed over into those "broken, and fragile parts of ourselves" and we haven't turned back. We won't allow it. We can't go back to how we first started because now it's real love, real friendship, and even when it's scary, we don't run away, but we run to each other, and to the foot of the cross!
Here are just a few of my beatniks, along with the most recent member, Brylie. She's soon to meet Isabella, who will be born today or tomorrow.
At the end of her chapter on friendship, Shauna tells a story of a friend who came to live with her and her husband for several months before finding a house of their own. When they left to their new home, they left behind a key to their new home, inviting them to be a part of their house just as they had been invited into Shauna's home.
This week, as I was home sick, I did a little packing. Rooting through some of my bags, I pulled out my keychain from home and what should be on the chain, but my friend Yona and Eric Roberts' home key. I don't know why I brought it to Ghana with me, but it reminded me of Shauna's story. I haven't lived in Southern California in over 3 years, yet when Yona and Eric bought their home, they gave me a key and each time I came to visit, I put it to use. Even now, Yona and Eric are in the hospital as Yona is giving birth to their first child, Isabella. My heart is in that tender place, longing to be there with them. I've lived through so many things with this couple and it hurts not to be there to celebrate the homecoming of their little girl. But, I know that even though I'm living an ocean away, I still have a key to their home and their lives.
Friends. . .what a blessing I have to have been given such friends!