Today, I had the joy of spending several hours with my best friend. She lives in another state now, but she was visiting family in the area and made sure she planned some time to spend with me. I spent the week eagerly anticipating her visit, and began to think back to the way our friendship began….
A sixteen-year-old girl sat on the steps outside the second floor apartment, where she lived with her mom and three younger siblings. She sat there thinking, or maybe brooding, about something of great importance to her. Suddenly the door to the apartment right under hers opened and another teenage girl, who was obviously upset, appeared on the scene. The girls, who had both experienced recent major changes in their lives, sat together on the stairs and began to talk. They shared their anger, their hurts, their fears, their dreams, and so much more. They talked and laughed and cried, and a life-long friendship was born.
Why has our friendship lasted so long? How have we stayed friends through all the life changes we have each gone through during the last 43 years? I think there are several factors that make a friendship last for a lifetime.
The first is availability. Real friends are available for each other as much as possible. I know that, although she may not be able to be with me in person, my best friend is always just a phone call away. We have spent hours on the phone, sharing our joys, our trials, and our everyday lives. She is there for me and I am there for her.
The next two factors are vulnerability and acceptance. Good friends are not afraid to be vulnerable with each other. They share their good days and their bad days. They share their strengths and their weaknesses; their happy thoughts and their dark thoughts. My best friend and I can be open and honest because we know that each of us will accept the other for who we really are. Friends can only be vulnerable, if they are assured of acceptance.
A lasting friendship also requires commitment and effort. My best friend and I have lived near each other and far apart. We have raised kids and worked and led busy lives. But we have made our relationship a priority. We are committed to our friendship, and make the effort necessary to nurture it. That is why, on a trip to attend a bridal shower for her future daughter-in-law, my best friend made time for me. That is why I make an effort to call her often to share what is happening in my life and find out what is happening in hers. That is why we sometimes mail each other a card or send a quick text message, just to touch base. Our friendship is worth any effort that it takes.
Most importantly for us, my best friend and I have a shared faith. As teenagers we attended church together and spent many hours studying God’s word together. As adults, we have nurtured each other’s faith through prayer and conversation. Bebo Norman sings a song called “Borrow Mine”. The chorus to this songs explains how we both feel about faith and friendship:
You can borrow mine
When your hope is gone
You can borrow mine
When you can’t go on
Cause the world will not defeat you
When we’re side by side
When your faith is hard to find
You can borrow mine.