April 14, 2003
The wonderful miracle of friendship rides a roller coaster of emotions and life-changing moments. A group of five thirtysomethings share their stories of tears, laughter and sad betrayals.
Joe is a family man, husband and father of two. He expressed important qualities he looks for in developing a lasting friendship.
“I look for someone you can trust with your deepest feelings, fears, dreams and hopes. I mean you entrust these people with intimate parts of your life,” he said. “Thinking back over my life, I realized what I had then as friends—now there is no one at my age I can say is a true friend. If you find the right person that meets the qualifications—yes, it is a bond; it’s something you won’t forget.”
He mused over his school years when he first started to develop this bond. “I was goofing off in class, when the kid in front of me turned around and grabbed my shirt. He gave me a challenge to come to his farm and put in a hard day of work. I accepted his offer, and from that moment, our friendship started.” But then the friendship became distant. “He moved West and I moved East. We lost track of each other.”
Years have passed, and Joe still remembers that friend who made such an important impact on him. “When you meet a person in life that leaves a lasting impression on you, and you like their character, morals and values, you tend to take from that example and try to measure them up to everyone else.”
Ann is a wife of nine years, Sunday school teacher and coordinator of a children’s community outreach in her hometown. She expressed many factors that she has come across in finding and maintaining a life-long friendship. “It is the sharing of times we have experienced together and our loyalty to each other that makes it so special. We both have the same interests and share common likes and dislikes.”
Ann and her friend first met through another friend. “Susan and I clicked. We became friends and have remained ever since,” she said. “When I looked back over my life, I realized what we had together. She never judged me, and I never judged her. She knows me better than anyone else, and I know her the same.”
Sadly, she and Susan drifted apart over time. “I think the friendship became distant after she had her first child and I got married. We both entered into another journey in our lives.”
Ann also told of feeling deserted by another friend when she was in grade school. “We hung out together all the time. We were best friends. When we entered middle school, she found new friends. I felt alone and abandoned.” Because of this experience and others like it, she has built up walls. “It had a big impact on my life,” she said. “I tend to test people now to see if I can trust them.”
But she was glad to report that she and her childhood friend, Susan, have rekindled their friendship, and both are working with children in their community to share the good news of Jesus Christ and the miracle of friendship He brings.
Kim, a mother of two and wife, talked about how character is important to her in a true friendship. “I feel strong morals and values are important in a friendship.”
Kim shared how friends have comforted her in times of struggles and how they brought hurt feelings as well. She told of one friendship that was severed after it became too focused on money and things. “It was more materialistic than other friendships. I had to stop the friendship.”
She also talked about the importance openness has in a friendship. “I found it can’t be one-sided. You’re afraid of being open because they may judge you.”
Jackie, a career-focused wife and sister, shed light on qualities she feels are important in friendship. “When you care about someone, you don’t want to hurt them. When you are committed, you stand by them. There is a commitment to find out what is going on in their lives. The people I share things with know where I came from and know my life.”
She talked about how marriage affects friendships. “I feel the friendship goes through another cycle. You’re now dedicating your life to your spouse.”
Jackie also told of a sad situation when she had to distant herself from a destructive friendship. “The individual didn’t have their priorities right. Their morals and values became distorted. I offered support and help, but they just wouldn’t accept the help for themselves. I had to end the friendship.”
Flora is a mother of two and the grandmother of three. She told of a special friend she had in church who stuck by her through a very trying time in her life—her divorce.
She shared the pain of betrayal she felt when her church wasn’t there for her, explaining how she felt judged and rejected because of her choice. However, there was a special friend who stayed by her side through this rough time in her life.
“Connie was there for me. She didn’t turn her back or judge me. After I left the church, Connie still talks to me. She respects me for who I am. Our friendship looks past church beliefs because she was never judgmental of me.”
A true friendship takes time, loyalty, sharing, openness, commitment and most of all, love. In looking at the life of Jesus, we find a divine human who became flesh to experience the true miracle of a friendship. Sharing in this miracle were His 12 close friends. And those friends possessed a vast assortment of characteristics. There was business-oriented Matthew, denier Peter, doubting Thomas, second best Andrew, pragmatist Philip, visionary Nathaniel, temperamental James (brother of John), betrayer Judas, rebel Simon, non-famous James, steadfast Thaddeus and tender John.
Jesus picked 12 individuals with different characteristics and backgrounds. He did not see their hang-ups and mishaps, but He saw 12 men who He wanted to know, teach and befriend. Even at the time of His betrayal, Jesus was still teaching the value of true loyalty, as he called Judas “friend.”
Jesus shows us even though we may experience betrayals, denials and accusations against us, we need to hold on to the most valuable quality of friendship—love. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).
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