“I’m taking a sabbatical from kid’s ministry for a year” she tossed the words out with a studied casualness.
“Oh. Well, I’ll still be your friend,” I copied her casual approach by reaching for a crisp (I remember this because they were those tortilla style ones, and spicy, and I didn’t like them.)
“What?” she stared at me as though I’d told her the Spice Girls were getting back together.
I shrugged, “Yeah. I’m your friend because I’m your friend, not because you do kids’ ministry.”
“Oh.” She took a giant handful of crisps and I headed for the kitchen to get a drink. She told me much later that she had got a bit annoyed because she had wanted to be cross with me, but couldn’t. But that’s what friendship is about: acceptance.
I can’t say I always get it right though. I nearly lost out on my friendship with FWD because I turned her into a project. I liked writing, she liked writing; she had studied psychology, I was studying psychology; I was newly married, she had a bloke. She’s also incredibly caring and always gives people the benefit of the doubt (so does The Dude, incidentally – clearly I’m supposed to be learning something here), and I thought she could benefit from my slightly more upfront (some might say, confrontational) approach. I gave her some advice, she didn’t take it, I got miffed.
Then I realised that FWD is not me, she is a different person, with a different purpose, and trying to turn her in to me was both a futile and counter-productive measure. FWD has taught me a lot about love, and caring over the subsequent years. That’s another thing friendship is about: learning, and love.
Friendship is odd. It’s a coming together of minds, and lives, to share in things that we have in common, while acknowledging the things we do differently. Ideally, it’s borrowing each other’s strength’s to shore up our weaknesses.
It’s sharing our joys, and making them brighter;
Sharing our sorrow, and making them lighter.
At its best, it is love, and laughter, and finishing each others’ sentences. It’s knowing what makes another smile, and knowing they know your little secret, and will never tell anyone. It’s the beauty of the rainbow and the diamond and the butterfly – because it is forged in times of joy and sorrow, is tougher than anything, and yet incredibly fragile.
Proverbs talks about a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks “closer than a brother”.
Don’t be a companion. Be a friend.