photos and writing by June Friesen, scripture from The Message translation
Friendship – what is friendship? Friendship is having a mutual caring, active relationship with another that is built upon trust. The photo above is one of my best friends. Over my lifetime I have made and developed many friends, some of whom are still close to me while others are separated by distance and consequently they are not as close as we once may have been. My friends just happen to be spread over a few countries, not just states.
Why is friendship important? The human race is created to thrive in relationship. It was that way from the beginning as in Genesis 2 God realized after He created Adam that it was not good for Adam to be alone. So He created another human, a little bit different and called her woman and introduced her to Adam as his helper. Friendship as we observe it in the Scriptures as well as in the world today definitely is something that is needed. It is helpful to each and every one of us. The truth is that we often take our friends for granted and spend little time nurturing and/or appreciating the full impact of the relationship. When I was researching online, I found this statement:
“Friendship Day is celebrated to remind friends how valuable they are and to express their affection, support, and other sentiments. This day is usually celebrated so that we and our friends can make this day special.” – BetterHelp.com
It is a time when we can appreciate our friends with a note, a phone call, a text and for some there may be a gift exchanged.
First, I want to share a brief history of this day from my research online. It started in South America somewhere around 1919 as sort of combination celebration of Valentines’, Mother’s, and Father’s Days all rolled into one. Over the past decade it has spread worldwide and the particular catalyst has been the Latin American countries. In 2011 the United Nations declared it to be an international celebration on July 30, 2011. Their goal was so that it would be an avenue to encourage friendships that would not have boundaries. Another goal was to facilitate a means to a more wholesome relationship between people groups as well as nations and countries. Hopefully this day will remind many of us of the value of having each other in our lives, as it is indeed a lonely life when one has no one to share with, care about and call a friend.
In the book of Proverbs, the writer talks about how valuable a wise, reliable friend is for someone.
11-12 The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry, And a wise friend’s timely reprimand is like a gold ring slipped on your finger.
13 Reliable friends who do what they say are like cool drinks in sweltering heat—refreshing!
Did you catch the difference between the first phrase and the second? It said that the right word at the right time is like custom-made jewelry. Wow, that is not costume jewelry but ‘custom-made jewelry.’ When someone is deeply in love with another they may go and have a custom piece of jewelry made because they want it to be the perfect design for their special friend’s taste. We often think of this in regard to couples where the young man goes and has a ring custom-made for his girlfriend/fiancé. Second, it says it is like a gold ring being placed on another’s finger. This is referencing a reprimand I might rephrase to ‘a teaching moment.’ It is someone who we trust, who respects us and wants to help us improve our character so they gift us with helping us learn a better way to do and/or say something.
Now one may respond that they do not see too many friends exchanging expensive gifts but loyalty is a gift that goes even deeper than a material gift. It means that there is a relationship of caring and sharing between two or possibly more individuals where no one ever needs to worry about having someone who cares for them in their struggles. I really like the last phrase in this passage as it says that a ‘reliable friend is like a cool drink in hot weather.’ I know what hot weather is from experiencing outdoor temperatures up to 120 degrees Fahrenheit and cool water is so welcome, as well as so necessary for providing at least some degree of comfort. And yes, I would definitely agree, that a close friend is one who provides some sort of comfort even when one is in a place of complete brokenness and loss.
For those people who claim to be followers of a God who loves all peoples we should see this as an opportunity to show appreciation for the community of friends that we have around us. That may just be a thank you verbally, in a text, a phone call, a note, an email and for some a special token of some sort such as even a meal out together or a small gift, and/or a bouquet of flowers. In our world today of rushing around for one reason or another, being preoccupied with all of the things technology brings into our space, etc. we often forget to appreciate those who are an important and/or integral part of our life. My friend sometimes reminds me, ‘June we need to do something – we haven’t been together for a long time.’ I am thankful for a friend/friends like that who help work the friendship because friendships do not just happen, they are chosen, created and nurtured.
Paul also has some words for us in Philippians. Philippians 2:1-4
If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care—then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don’t push your way to the front; don’t sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don’t be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand.
There is a phrase in about the middle of these verses where Paul says: ‘Do me a favor.’ He prefaced this phrase with the challenge of the claim people make about how they are followers of God, particularly Christians. I challenge myself as I read these verses – how often do I forget to practice some of these things in my friendships? Let me share in a tribute what a real friendship looks like to me.
A FRIENDSHIP TRIBUTE
How often have I taken the time to say ‘thank you’ –
Not enough I am sure – so today I want to tell you how important you are in my life.
Thank you for always being ready to share a hug with me –
No matter what the occasion or whether there is any occasion at all –
Thank you for the phone call, the text, the note –
Letting me know you thought of me and want to just say ‘Hi,’
Thank you for the times we have a good chat –
Remembering the good times and even the challenging times –
Thank you for reaching out when it has been silent from my side –
Letting me know that you miss the contact and reminding me we are still needed by each other –
Thank you for that unexpected little gift you bless me with ‘just because’,
They often are just the ‘pick me up’ I need at the moment,
And often I place it in a special place to remind me –
You are always mindful of our special friendship – and you care.
You, my friend, have been such a blessing to me –
You have taught me that I matter to you as well as to others and you remind me of that from time to time –
You have taught me that self-care is important and is not always self-centered and selfish as some may tell me it is –
You have taught me to ‘reach for the stars’ and never to limit the things I could be capable of doing –
You have given me wings to fly to places I never would have explored –
You have challenged me to ‘never give up’ until I have at least tried –
You have shown me the tools and encouraged me to use them
You have also been the one who when I failed at first who said,
“Why don’t you try it this way this time?” and then achievement was won.
Yes, my friend, I thank you for standing strong beside me,
Never giving up, never demeaning, never discouraging –
But when necessary taking my hand and helping me walk the journey
One more step, one more day, one more breath at a time.
Thank you, my friend, for being God’s unconditional love and encouragement here on this earth. Amen.
This tribute is dedicated to my husband, Ron, who has proved to be a true friend for over 54 years.
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