My Dad explained the doctrine of the trinity to me by telling me about the many relationships he juggled. He told me God is one God, but three persons, and then he’d say: “You know, I’m your Dad, and I’m my Mom’s son, and I’m your Uncle’s brother. See? I’m three people, but I’m still one person. Each person is different.” He wasn’t eloquent, but he taught a good lesson. Each person was a different way of relating. As a Father, he related to us in authority. In teaching and guidance, and in placing rules and boundaries. As a son, he related in obedience and respect. He loved his Mother, respected her, obeyed her, when it was his role to do so. As a brother he related in friendship, companionship, and a sense of understanding, compassion. This gave me such a deep understanding of the trinity, and how God operates in three persons. I really appreciate my Dad’s wisdom in this particular teaching.
His wisdom extended to other things too, in this case. As a Mom of 4, I am also juggling a variety of relationships, and at this season in my life, it feels as if some of those balls are going to drop. I’ve gone through periods of anxiety and frustration, feeling as if my friendships are suffering, my family is suffering, and I am suffering, all because I just can’t figure out how to spread myself thin enough to cover everyone. I’ve learned though, through one of my truest friends, that I don’t HAVE to cover everyone. Friendship has its seasons.
First, lets define a friend in the Biblical sense. According to Proverbs “there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” I always assumed as a child that that must automatically mean you spend more time with them. As an adult, my perspective has changed drastically. I’ve learned that friendship is a relationship that puts others before self, that to find good friends, one ought to seek wisdom in their friends.
That our companions influence us, and that there are Biblical examples of friendship that does stick closer than a Brother (David and Jonathan, Ruth and Naomi… etc.)
A friend is someone who loves you more than they love themselves. They understand you, and cherish you.
In my life I have lived in fear of losing friendships. But in losing friends, I learned that a friend I lost was one I never really had. There are some friendships that can survive the seasons we all go through, and those are the ones worth cultivating, sticking with. They are few and far between. I am blessed that in these types of friends, I am not truly short.
Friendship does have its seasons though. Marriage is the only friendship in which each season is always experienced (or ought to be) side by side and arm in arm with that friend. My husband has been through everything that I have been through. And I have joined him in his triumphs and tragedies as well. We have a friendship that transcends all others.
Family is similar to marriage, in that you are linked for life. It is a rare and tragic thing for living family members to be so separated, that they do not share in the general hills and valleys of life’. As for my other friends, I have learned that sometimes friendship is like the tide, it ebbs and flows. At one point I feared this cycle, thinking I would lose my friend. I have since found that what maintains our friendship in this ebb and flow is an understanding of permanence, and commitment. No matter what season I have been in with certain friends, the friendship itself remains strong, and is something I can always count on.
Friendship can go from the warm summer of everything going just as it ought, with plenty of things in common, and time to spend together, to a winter where time and opportunity just seem scarce. Do not think you have lost your friendship just because you and your friend have little in common at the moment, just love each other, and you will have that summer again.
Right now, as a Mom, I am in a season where friendship, of all kinds, takes a backseat to marriage and family. I can’t always drop all four of my children to go on a bike ride with a friend. Or take all of them along on a shopping trip. It requires careful planning, and a miracle of sorts for me to have special time alone with my adult friends. I have friends who despite the strong bond of friendship, we have little in common as far as life goes. I want to encourage other Moms, just because your friend of YEARS has no children yet, does not mean you cannot maintain your deep connection with her. Persevere. This is a season. It will ebb and flow with each one. I still go to my friend, Brooke, to cry, talk, ask advice, and whether or not she and I are in the same place right now, I always find her to be a good friend with plenty to think on, because she is that friend who always points me right back to scripture. She is wise, because her wisdom comes from fearing God, and that is what will make her a good friend no matter what season of life either of us are in. She reminds me of that verse in Proverbs: “As iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens a friend’s character.” Proverbs 27:17
I have many types of friends, with whom I can socialize while our children get together and have fun. I have a few friends going through the same season of life as I, and I find that comforting, challenging even. We call and write one another to keep each other honest, to encourage each other. One such friend and I have thousands of emails under our belts with subjects such as “How do you handle an earache with your baby?” or “What do you feel God’s Word has to say about what media we expose our kids to?” or “How much chocolate did you eat today? I’ve had 3 bars already. It is a 3 chocolate bar kind of day…” All I have to do is tell her I’m starting potty training this week, and I know she will be praying right on target, and maybe have some practical hands on advice. This is a woman who introduced me to the feared cloth diapers. And she was totally right! They aren’t nearly that bad. They are actually kind of easy if you know what you are doing, and baby is much more comfortable! Well worth the money saved! Jenny knows just what I need to hear because she has been there. She knows when I need some encouragement, some prayer, or someone to understand just what I am going through. She reminds me of another proverb: “Whoever sings songs to a heavy heart is like one who takes off a garment on a cold day, and like vinegar on soda” (Prov. 25:20)
Friendship is not something we can control, or try to. It is a gift. And while we have it, we ought to cherish it by being a good friend. The most important thing I have learned is to have good friends you must BE a good friend. And that starts with thinking about how God has treated you. Loved you. He has forgiven you, loved you when you were unlovable. I know that as a friend, I have caused pain to my friends, whether I set out to, or not. Be the kind of friend you want to have, and be understanding with your friends when you are both in a season where it is hard to keep up with each other.
“A man who has friends must show himself to be friendly, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24