George Eliot once said of friendship, “What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?”
One of the most amazing facets of life is the ability to connect yourself to another human being without fear of prejudice or rejection. It is being real before somebody, not having to mask scars of old, not having to hide behind a veneer of superficiality, not having to be somebody – but just as you are, and just as they are – an honest, intimate friendship that spans culture, age, race, color, time and belief. It is one of the greatest gifts God ever gave man because He recognized that people need other people. Is it not a wonder that next to the greatest commandment of loving God is the command to love other people as oneself?
I often think about the friendships I have over the years, especially when I come across old journals and collections of pictures from childhood to present. I think about how amazing it is that of all the 8 billion people on this Earth, out of all the endless possibilities of meeting different people, the friends I have now were predetermined – intentionally prepared for and planned by God, and nothing came into existence without the foreknowledge of Him. He knew that at such a time as this, I will be meeting this friend, and that friend, and we will travel through a decade of friendship and build wonderful memories. It doesn’t matter that to some, only a short time was given; the depth of understanding is its real measure. That is the beauty of real friendship.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking a lot on these friendships and where they stand now. Some have been buried in the ashes of forgotten memories; some have died natural deaths; some have withstood the testing of fire, battling it out as they come; still others are persisting, trying to stay alive through constancy and steadfastness. There is the effort to keep in touch; the effort to know how one is doing; the effort to remind the person she is being prayed for; the effort to send verses to uplift, encourage, support; the effort to compose a simple ‘hi’ over text that doesn’t even require a minute or two. There is effort to keep it, the effort to carry on.
But as efforts are not constant and fixed, so are friendships.
They go by without notice.
And at one point in our lives, we are deserted.
There is a clear gap between what used to be and what is now. You’d think that because you used to have such a great relationship, that you can carry it through the years to come. You have built all these wonderful memories; you have shared meaningful times together; it will only be logical to presume that this friendship will continue.
But for some undefined reason, they don’t. When you need an effort or two from a friend and there is nothing but absence of it, the sadness overwhelms you. So much that you would rather go back to that time when everything used to be so great, even if it just means looking at old pictures and reading old journals in memory of a good thing.
I miss old friends, but the effort to have them know that I miss them requires much more than simply writing what I feel if only to have it expressed.
I heard our pastor say last night that grace is better experienced than explained. That applies to my predicament – it is better experienced than explained. What is an effort or two?