I got to have dinner this week with some old friends, and it was such a blessing. I think friendship is one of the greatest gifts God has given us. We got to talking about all the things we had been through together – divorce, death of a spouse, a child being put in jail, drug and alcohol addictions, spiritual unrest or weakness – and we highlighted how close we all were. At the time we became friends, all of us went to the Nazarene church, and we were all very faithful – Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night. We were all new moms at the time as well, and our nursery was a nightmare! There were six new babies within months of each other, and then those babies grew up a little and were replaced by six more. At any moment in time, there could be 10 or more children under two years old in this nursery.
As we talked, I began to see how friendships then are so different from friendships today. We would get together and spend an entire day just hanging out, visiting and talking, letting our kids play. There were few distractions, and that one day a week or so that we tried to get together was the highlight of the week. This was before cell phones, of course, so we were “all there” in the moment. We shared everything about our lives – marriages, kid issues, family trouble. We also were in each other’s face about spiritual things. I can remember being called out numerous times if my attitude wasn’t right or I was slipping in my walk with the Lord. Thank God for these women! I truly don’t know how any of us would have made it raising children and going through all life has to offer without each other. Those friendships were a balm of healing and like having a therapist on standby at all times.
When I think about young women today, I watch them rushing here and there, trying to do it all and fit it all in, all while staying tied to those phones and Facebook and Instagram and Snapchat and all this craziness. I wonder, do they have good, close friendships, or is it all surface? Because let’s be honest, Facebook can be a very cruel and distant place. I know several people who have just removed themselves because they couldn’t take the “comparisons.” When I asked them what they meant, they said, “You know, seeing the pictures of someone’s house all perfect, and watching them post about how perfect their children are, and blah, blah, blah. I just couldn’t take it – I was constantly comparing myself to their life, and I was unhappy and depressed all the time. I just had to get off.”
I’m getting ready to speak at this Our Sister’s Conference at the end of April, and as I pray about what God would want me to share, He keeps reminding me of how Jesus did his ministry – with friends. Yes, they were disciples, they were followers, they were worshipers, but if we really look at it closely, they were a group of friends who ate together, slept together, sacrificed together and were in this thing as a team. Why did Jesus do that? He could have done this on his own – He was powerful enough to carry this load and just go it with him and God. But he didn’t. He surrounded himself with other men, and they grew close to each other and supported each other and fought and laughed and cried. I truly believe this is what He wants us to do.
I have to admit, I have mourned the distance of my friendships with these women I spent almost 20 years with on a routine basis. Some have moved, some left to go to other churches, we got busy with teenagers instead of babies, and now busy with grandchildren. But I do KNOW that if I ever needed a one of them, they would be there for me in an instant. But it makes me want to make my friendships of today more real, more open, more raw so that I, too, can be a blessing and they can feel that we aren’t just surface friends, all pretending everything is great when sometimes it’s just not. I would ask you – do you have deep, personal friendships, people who you share your ugliness with and who still love you anyway? Do you know that you’ve surrounded yourself with people who will call you out if you need it, who will pull you up when you fall, will pray for you when you can’t pray for yourself? I don’t want fake friendships, those surface kind where there is a lot left unsaid and tucked away because you’re afraid to be real. I want to be the kind of friend who accepts people as they are but encourages them to seek Christ to be better and to be happier.
My daughter Talia has moved to Pomeroy, and she started going to a new church that has a great reputation, and she keeps saying, “I’m only going to survive this move to Ohio if I find new friends.” She’s even gone back to school to become a teacher so she can meet people in her community and “try to find friends.” If I’ve heard her say “I’ve got to find friends” one time, I’ve heard it a thousand in the last six months. She attends this new church for almost six months, signs up to be a greeter, tries her best to reach out and be friendly to those around her, and NO ONE has reached back. She has become so discouraged and depressed over it, I’ve been really worried. She hears they’re having a ladies breakfast, and she thinks, “This will be it – this is where I can make a friend and people will want to get to know a little about me.” She gets up and gets ready with excitement, anxious to see what friend God has for her. She arrives and most of the women are already seated, but she gets seated at the end of the table, and they all talk about people they know, things they know about that she has no clue on, and they make no effort whatsoever to include her. She said she almost cried right there at the table, but she was able to make it to the car before breaking down, and she cried all the way home.
What are we doing, guys? What are we doing? Are we all so busy and distracted that we don’t have room to reach out to another person? Are we just “not in the market” for a new friend? Or do we even care about friendships and instead just want this “I’ve got it all together” mantra for our lives, whether it’s true or not? Lord, help us! I KNOW His plan was for us to mentor each other and pray for each other and be there for each other – He showed us how to do that. I would encourage you to take a few minutes and analyze your friendships and ask God what He would have you do with each of them – dive deeper and make it real. Life is too short…..
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.