This musing was an incredibly hard one to put on paper. On December 15, 2009, my heart was shattered because I selfishly wanted a friendship to remain the way it was…comfortable and safe. A sea of tears were shed and several brutally honest and gut-wrenching conversations ensued until finally, I decided my friendship was more important than getting my way. Only one other person knows the full story and that is my midnight friend who inspired this musing. To my friend I say, I love you deeper than you know and stronger than I can show.
To my readers: Perhaps you will see some of your own friendships through this entry.
In a world where it is increasingly harder to find anything that remains constant, there is a relationship, we call friendship, which intrigues, humbles, and baffles me all at the same time. Friendship is perhaps the most fascinating yet complex relationship we share with our fellow human beings. It is a chosen relationship. In most cases, there is no blood running through the veins of the participants which naturally draws them together. There is a commitment shared by two people that can transcend family relationships, biases, prejudices, and other things that often keep people apart. Yet, when exactly does it happen? When are those magical moments where two strangers become acquaintances and acquaintances become friends and friends become bonded by something not even death can separate?
Do you ever wonder about the very essence of friendship? Why is it important in our lives? How does it enrich our existence? How and when is it born? And how does it happen that two people come together, through a myriad of circumstances, and silently pledge to each other a deep and abiding commitment found in few other relationships? Very few people seek friendships out. Most find it almost accidentally as a byproduct of some other aspect of their lives. Two people sharing the same heart and passion for a job or a cause suddenly find themselves in sync with each other in areas beyond that thing which brought them together.
What fascinates me is analyzing why some friendships stick and others don’t. Why is it that some fall apart at the sight of a conflict? Why are some shattered when there is a betrayal of trust or a misunderstood action? Are there friendships that actually last for a lifetime and what decides those that do last from those that don’t? The Bible has much to say about friendship. If we, as God’s people, are to pattern our lives according to the Bible and the examples it holds for us, then perhaps we should learn all we can about friendship from the source of unending and unbending truth. Clearly, there are responsibilities for each party in a friendship. I would encourage you to do a word study on friendship in the Bible. The book of Proverbs has much to say about friendship. God obviously cares about the relationships between friends. The very existence of the relationship is a gracious gift from the Creator.
I spent some time today looking at the composite of friends in my own life. They are many and unique and the depths of the relationships are just as varied as the people involved. I can be drawn to my friends for various reasons. Each friend plays a different role in my life and fills a different need in my heart. I have a certain friend to whom I can turn if I need to add a little laughter to my day. Regardless of the situation, she will find humor and before long, my heart will be lighter and along with it, so will my burden. There is a friend whose presence affords a calming effect and reminds me that God is at the center of every circumstance. There is a friend with whom I can be silly and childish. Another friend is my confidant and holds my dreams in her hands and heart. I have childhood friends who share a history with me that only those who lived it with me will fully understand. There are friends to whom I can turn for the ups and downs and ins and outs of daily life. I call them the “how to” friends. I like to have friends who spiritually intimidate me and challenge me through their own lives to be a better Christian. But the friends who reach that deep, no-matter-what, abiding love, level of friendship are those known as the “midnight friends.” Those very few people who have been tried and tested and proven to be there at the “no-matter-what” times. I’ve thought about what makes certain people midnight friends and others not so much. I’m drawn to the Bible again for an example of a midnight friendship. Perhaps the most beloved example of friendship in the Bible is that of David and Jonathan. The Bible says, that God knit the hearts of David and Jonathan together. That is perhaps the key. A friendship that is not only recognized and ordained of God but one that is hand-tied together by the Creator of the Universe. If God knits my heart to a friend, then that friendship is settled forever as long as my heart stays knit to the knitter, my Heavenly Father. There is no stronger security in a friendship than to know that God did the knitting of the hearts.
I am so blessed to have a few of those midnight friends. Friends who have been tested and tried and pushed to the brink and have stood with me in the midnight hours; friends who are obviously knit to my heart by the Lord. Sometimes in life we are given opportunities to find out who our midnight friends include. Friendships come and go in our lives but a few remain constant. What are those opportunities for finding out who our midnight friends are? Sometimes it is the mistakes we make that separate our shallow level friends from our midnight friends. Leave it to a character flaw or bad decision to reveal quickly our midnight friends. They are the ones who are still standing by our sides while we pick up the pieces and try again. Sometimes it is the heartaches and devastations of life that reveal midnight friends. Those that can be called upon at any hour for any reason. Tonight I had one such midnight friend. I called with a need and asked what her evening held and she said, in true midnight-friend fashion, “whatever you need it to hold.” This is a friend that has had many opportunities, sad to say, to prove her midnight friendship to me. We’ve been through so much together. Some we’ve done to ourselves, much was done to us. But in the end, we’ve always had each other. Midnight friends are totally, completely, and often brutally honest with us. Being a true friend often involves some unpleasant moments and difficult conversations. If you’re going to hold my heart, treat it fairly and honestly, even if at the moment I don’t appreciate the gesture. That is the attitude of true midnight friends.
One of the hardest but most liberating things a midnight friend can do is to set us free to grow beyond what they were comfortable with us being. We all get in our ruts and routines and perform our roles by the status quo, but sometimes a heart is stirred, challenged, and even convicted to break out and take a stand for God that is not popular; a stand that sets them apart. A midnight friend will listen, hear, exhort, challenge and then give affirmation to their friend’s choice. For a real midnight friend is willing to admit that sometimes our friendships hold us back out of fear. Sometimes the greatest gift we can extend is the gift of freedom: freedom to express, freedom to search, freedom to soar, freedom to glide the path God chooses for our friends, not the path we would selfishly keep them walking upon.
I’m thankful for the many people who grace my life with their friendships. Those who are just barely deeper than the acquaintance level all the way to the few midnight friends. Each one enriches my life and reminds me of God’s handprint on my day.
Thanks for Hearing My Heartbeat,