Making acquaintances is easy and usually fun. I enjoy chatting with the twins’ UPK teachers every weekday. We’ve bonded over the drop-off and pick-up routine. I look forward to volunteering at church each Sunday and helping families settle their kids into age-appropriate environments. Some have become affectionately familiar to me. These encounters brighten up my routine.
But time-tested friendship is hard. Taking a relationship from the easy chat to a meaningful conversation takes time and persistence. And when someone sticks around for several years, you are going to deal with issues. Making room for and staying open to that kind of friendship is challenging.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I recently listened to a series on friendship at the By Faith podcast and it challenged me to see things differently. I’ve shared in the past about my introverted tendencies. When I keep to myself, I don’t risk rejection. I don’t feel like an outsider when in a group of other women and I never feel lost in the crowd.
But it’s lonely.
Sometimes when I’m in an unfamiliar environment or around people I don’t personally know, I feel like I have to earn their affection. That I have to show them that I’m worth getting to know. What I often don’t remember is that many people feel the same way. So if I’m too scared to pursue you and you’re too scared to pursue me, where does that leave us?
I’ve learned that ignoring my insecurities doesn’t make them disappear and that keeping to myself doesn’t make me confident. It makes me safe, not confident. Now I understand the importance of pursuing. I can’t wait for the safety of being pursued. I need to pursue.
My favorite example of friendship in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan. Their friendship defied the odds. Though they were originally connected through King Saul’s favor of young David, those circumstances changed. David was anointed the next king of Israel, a position that rightfully belonged to Jonathan. A jealous Saul grew envious and suspicious of David, to the point of hunting him down to kill him.
Still, Jonathan stood with David. When Samuel anointed David, Jonathan celebrated. When Saul tried to kill David, Jonathan protected him. They would go long periods of time without any personal interactions, yet their loyalty and care for each other never faded.
The way Jonathan befriended David is a beautiful picture of the way Jesus has befriended us. He pursues us. He protects us. He stands with us so that we are never alone. Jesus made it personal when he came to earth, suffered in our place, and gave us the hope of eternal life. He is the perfect friend.
Inside each of us is a deep longing for this kind of relationship. It’s one we desire for ourselves and pray constantly for on behalf of our kids. I want my kids to know Jesus intimately. I want them to see Him as their God, of course, but also as their friend. If they know His love, really know it, then they will be overcomers.
While we have the privilege of God’s friendship on earth and the promise of life beside Him forever in heaven, we cannot lose sight of the people that surround us, our friends. The people who do life with us and remind us of how much we need each other.
I count myself blessed to have been pursued in friendship. To the friend who shows up on my doorstep ready to push my kids several miles in a stroller just so we can get out and do something we both love doing together, I say thank you. To the friend who stops by my house on a moment’s notice or let’s me drop off my kids at her house on a moment’s notice, I say thank you. To the friend who lives hundreds of miles away but continually let’s me know that I am an important part of her life, I say thank you. You are my Jonathan.
I want to be this kind of friend too. When your life gets busy and your time is scarce, I will support you and will look forward to the time we can spend together in the future. When you face a crisis, I will stand with you. If we ever run into conflict, I will not speak negatively of you or turn my back on you. You, my friend, are important to me and I love you. So, please, when I’m not at my best, forgive me and keep pursuing me.
There’s a Bible verse, John 15:13, that says, “Greater love has no man than this, to lay down one’s life for his friend.” This verse specifically makes me think of Jesus, who actually did lay down His life for us. I used to think that’s what it meant – the literal sacrificing of your life. While that may be true, I’ve come to understand and interpret this at a more practical level.
Sometimes laying down your life is helping a friend pack for a move that takes her far away. Or watching her kids so she can deal with the hard blow life just handed her. It’s feeding her family when she can’t be home to do it herself and regularly taking the time to reach into her life by letting her know that you care. Because every time you reach out, you are laying down your time, your life, in order to pursue her. That’s friendship.
What friends do you need to pursue today?