Something happened to me yesterday that was a once-in-forty-years, red letter, let the party begin, very special event! I attended a mini-reunion within a reunion and met up with three of my closest friends from way back—way, way back—in the 1970’s! Marilyn, Dottie, Pat and I attended a little church in the country together all those decades ago when we were young moms in our twenties, raising our kids, serving the Lord at Faith Baptist Church, and supporting and encouraging one another along the way. Life happens, though, and one by one our families had moved away and we lost touch.
You have to hand it to Facebook, though—it has a way of bringing old friends back together again! Fast forward to now—we’re four grandmas (Pat’s even a great-grandma!) and we couldn’t have been more thrilled to be reunited! I have to confess—we actually had to crash a party to make it happen! (Yeah, I know—just call me a wild thing!) Dottie lives in South Carolina now, but she had organized a reunion for the church she had attended before she went to Faith Baptist Church. When we heard she was going to be in the area we wanted to get together, but the only time she could do it was actually during the church’s reunion. It was important to us, though (so important that Pat drove all the way from Ohio to join us!) so, crash the party we did and had our own little reunion within their bigger one! We could just see the wheels turning inside some people’s heads as they tried to recall who we were. I even got a few “What are you doing here?” remarks from some people who knew I had never attended their church. I must admit—I gleefully confessed to being a party crasher!
The craziest, funniest part of it all, though, was how the four of us looked at one another and in awe, assured each other, “Wow! Can you believe it? Here we are in our sixties and early seventies and none of us have changed a bit! We all still look just the same!” A moment later, “Hmm,” I asked them, “What does that mean? Either we all look fabulous—or forty years ago we were pretty haggard and old for our age!” Today, looking at the pictures we took yesterday, I still think they all look wonderful and unchanged—but I definitely look forty years older and not quite so fabulous!
It was fun; it was heart-warming; it was good hearing all about their children and grandchildren; it was sad hearing about all the really hard trials in life they’ve been through—deaths, very serious illnesses, broken relationships and so many other struggles. I’ve had my own difficult times over the years, but it seemed to me that they all had had much heavier burdens to bear than I had. It made me feel sad, too, that I had let my friendships with these wonderful women fall by the wayside when I should have been there to help bear the burdens.
Life gets busy. We become insulated with the cares of our own small family. We get stressed out with too many things on our plate. And these days people don’t always stay in one small hometown, but often move far away, and maybe not just once, but several times. It is easy to let time and distance and circumstances tear us away from the old friends we once held dear. Why, many of us have even gotten away from the annual Christmas letter that at least helped us touch base once a year. On the other hand, we now have Facebook and Twitter and other social media that enable us to stay in touch easily with friends and family on a weekly, even daily, basis if we so choose. But that’s just it—we have to choose to keep those friendships alive and well—and fabulous!
Friendship is important. It is one of the relationships God gives us here on earth to make our journey through life easier, strengthened, and much more—fun! God’s Word tells us that a true friend is:
A true friend is always there— This is where I have failed so many times. I love my friends. I am loyal to them and would always stand beside them for support and behind them for strength, but in order to do that you have to be present. Oh, not necessarily present physically. We can’t always do that when hundreds, or even thousands of miles separate us. But we can always pick up the phone, or write a note or an e-mail, or help with a need when we know of it. Just letting that friend know that I am still thinking of her; still interested in what is going on in her life; still love and care about her—that is how to keep a friendship alive. Proverbs 17:17 says, “A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.” Be present. The next chapter goes on to say, “A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24) Be loyal.
I admire my sister Cheree. She is a wonderful friend and has many friends, all from different seasons of life and times and places where she has been. She treasures those friendships and gets together regularly with old friends from high school, from different jobs she has held, from different places she’s lived and different churches she attended. Where I have often been guilty of letting friendships slip away due to neglect, she has nurtured her friendships and seen them last for decades. She is obeying Proverbs 27:10 which says, “Do not forsake your own friend or your father’s friend.” Be there.
A true friend is there to encourage and edify. Friends ought to help one another grow. We should strengthen one another and encourage each other. Proverbs 27:17 tells us, “As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.” In other words, we stimulate one another to growth and improvement and maturity. Fun and laughter in a friendship is great, but we need to be ready to help each other with godly counsel and encouragement, as well. I think Proverbs 27:9 is a beautiful verse. It says, “Ointment and perfume delight the heart, And the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel.” A true friend should be willing to give, and to receive, godly counsel. A true friend will share from the heart in love and with the motivation to help, not hurt. Proverbs 27:6 tells us, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Honest counsel and constructive criticism is hard to give sometimes, and equally hard to receive, but when it is shared in love and with the correct motivation, we must not be afraid of it.
A true friend is there to share in life. Life is a journey and God has given us family and friends to help us along the way. We share the work. Ecclesiastes 4:9 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor.” A heavy load carried by two is much easier than trying to bear the weight all alone. That is true of the emotional and spiritual burdens we bear as well. We all need a shoulder to lean on—or even cry on—from time to time. Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” We need to be available, ready and willing, to bear the burdens of our friends. Just being there with a listening ear, a comforting hug, a soothing word can mean the world. “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” (Romans 12:15) We sometimes share in the tears of our friends, but how wonderful when we can share in the joys, as well! To have a friend on the other end of the phone jumping up and down and doing the happy dance right along with us! Our road on life’s pathway is never easy. It has its ups and downs, its twists and turns, but the journey is so much easier when shared with a friend!
John 15:3 tells us what the true love of a real friend is, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” Jesus, of course, was that True Friend who laid down his life for us. That was a sacrificial love. We will most likely not be called upon to die for our friends, but we can still exhibit that sacrificial love for one another in being willing to give up some time, expend some effort, share what we have in order to nurture our friendships. I am sorry I have not been a better friend. I am happy and thankful that my friends forgive me for that and are willing to accept me despite my shortcomings.
I gave credit to Facebook earlier in getting us all in touch again, but really the praise goes to God. He made us sisters in Christ with a bond that will last for all eternity, and He brought us all together again yesterday. I thank Him for that! And thank you, Marilyn, Dottie and Pat for a beautiful day yesterday and the many happy memories we share. I love you all and you really are—fabulous!