9 years ago I walked into an auditorium with one of my closest friends by my side. This was the second time I had the opportunity to attend a church camp that wasn’t run by my home church. I always felt totally out of place because I didn’t have an outgoing personality. We joined the crowd of 200 junior higher’s and sat down side by side. The leader got up and started to get all of us ready for a week of camp. They started explaining that teams were going to be picked. A couple leaders got up and started picking, one by one (It took a long time). We finished and my week was totally at a low point because I wasn’t on the team with my friend. I was suddenly all alone. The only time I was gonna be with her was in our cabin, eating, and chapel. (Which felt like nothing at that time.)
Our girl’s counselor reminded both of us that we were there to make new friends. Sure enough, that’s what happened to me. Later my team was on the field playing a game and someone asked for strong girls. For some odd reason, two of us girls started saying we “split wood” so we may have some strength and that’s what started a friendship.
Literally, that’s all it took! We started talking while we were on the field. She was an evangelist’s daughter, I was a pastor’s daughter, we both had singing families, and larger families (Even though my family wasn’t as large as hers) and both of our families heated with firewood (hence the wood splitting). We started eating meals together and everything else. Camp came to an end and we exchanged home addresses.
Left: First picture we took together at camp 9 years ago. Right: Taken the last time we saw each other.
9 years later, 4 moves on my end, 3 on hers, she dating, engaged, and married, me going on a missions trips, starting a military ministry, her starting a holiday bakery, etc. We still talk on a daily basis. And as crazy as this is, we still exchange letters too!
A lot of people get amazed at how long our relationship has lasted when we have seen each other only 4 or 5 times. Face-timed for the 3rd time last week and talked on the phone maybe 3 times. I sat at my desk thinking this morning about some things that have made the relationship last as long as it has and I want to share them with you. Maybe it will help you with your friendships. And draw you both closer together than where you are at now.
There are so many things that people think are core things in a friendship. Some think its sacrifice when you listen to your friend’s problems so that when you have problems they will listen to you. Some think that you have to be with your friends all the time talking, texting, shopping, drinking coffee, and late night sleepovers. Don’t get me wrong, those are all fun and I do some of those with a number of my friends on a weekly basis, but those are not the things that will last. Especially when you grow up and reach a point where family becomes a priority or you can’t meet up at a coffee shop because you live on the other side of the continent. These are the things that I see in my friendships that without these things, honestly, I wouldn’t have the close friendships as I do right now.
1. Jesus Christ
The number one thing in your friendships that draw you closer to each other, should be Jesus Christ. That should be the center of every relationship in your life, not just in friendships, but since we are on the topic of friendships we will not chase that rabbit. I have more than just this friend that I met at camp. I have a group of main core friends that I text, talk or meet up with on a weekly basis. I can tell you that every one of these friends has always brought up Jesus Christ as the main topic.
For instance, last week I talked with a friend that was talking about how our generation is not wanting to settle down and live for God with a family. They want to live a free-willed life. Another friend was talking about a prayer request with me. I even had the chance to meet my friend’s boyfriend. We talked about our ministries and them singing, he preaching the following day. All around, Christ is so much the center of our friendships. That wouldn’t be possible when Christ isn’t the center of your own personal life.
Proverbs 18:24 “ A man that hath friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh closer than a brother.”
This friend is Jesus Christ. He gives you a fulfillment that when you are with friends your problems don’t seem big because God already has them and is taking care of them. Gossip never creeps into the conversations when your busy talking about what He is doing in your life and arguments never show up because it’s not all about you. Your friendships are not the same when you both are living the Christian life and He is the center of it all.
Honestly, I am not as good with this as my friends are with me. I feel so encouraged when I leave a conversation with a friend. They always give me a new drive to try a new avenue or just to not give up. The Bible tells us we are to be a “Light” in Matthew 5. That light can go both ways. Yes, the light can be a light to the lost and dying world that we live in on a daily basis but it also means we can be a light to those friends who are living in the world and taking a stand with us. Sometimes, an encouraging word can go a long way. No matter what side you are on. Be the encouragement that you would want. The Bible says “Do unto others, as you would have them do to you.”. You become the friend you would want someone to be to you.
Most recent picture. Right before Sarahs Wedding.
I know, you are thinking that I am losing it, but sometimes, this is so important. Distance is a core area in every one of my relationships. I have learned that long distance friendships at a young age, last longer in the end. Because when “life” hits and 10 years down the road you are only friends on Facebook or you see each other once a year at a little get-together you realize that the friendship wasn’t built with distance in mind. Not having that friend to meet or that hand to comfort you, hurts, because they have always been there. That’s when Jesus Christ comes back into play. He is there to fill that void when you have one. So, please remember, the distance may come as an obstacle in the future for your friendship, but embrace it and learn together how to put Christ in the center and encourage each other at a distance.
I truly hope that whether you’re a teen girl, single, mother or grandparent that you will examine your friendships. Make a choice to make your conversations more Christ-honoring or be more selfless.