"A single rose can be my garden...a single friend, my world." (Leo Buscaglia) Friendship is under-rated. We live in a world riddled with all manner of casual contacts - filling a long list of "friends" on our social media feeds. In general, they are folks we "friended" because they posted cool stuff in their feed, had common friends with those we knew, or we know them casually from work or other places we frequent often. Do they really rise to the level of "friend"? Will they be there when the times are hard, or the things we count on seem to fall out from under us? Will they remind us our faith is in God, not the circumstances ahead of us or the ones we just found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of right now? If they aren't, then they are probably more of an acquaintance and not so much of a friend.
A true friend loves regardless of the situation, and a real brother exists to share the tough times. Proverbs 17:17 VOICE
The other day, my BFF and I were commenting about some of the friends we have had down through the years. We recalled their names, the circumstances that brought us together, etc. It wasn't that we were really reminiscing that much, it just came up in casual conversation because she recounted what a new member of someone's family was going to be named. That one name made me remember a friend from high school that I had lost contact with down through the years. I told my BFF that I had tried to find a couple of close friends from high school, all to no avail. Although the name of the one was quite unique (or at least I thought it was), there were thousands on social media with the same name! The other had likely married by now and was no longer going by her moniker, "Fish". Both of these gals meant a lot to me, helping me get grounded in my faith, not so much because they were Christians themselves, but because they challenged me to be a better Christian!
That may not sound like much at first, but let me explain. One was a professing atheist - just not able to make room for God in her realm of thinking. She believed heartily in evolution and challenged me many times on this "Creation Theory", as she called it. The other was from Lebanon and had never been raised around Christian people, but she challenged me to understand Islam - not to convert me to her way of believing, but to understand her upbringing and family faith. The more time I spent with these two unlikely companions, the more time I spent in the Word of God and in good books which helped me to understand my own beliefs, laying a firm foundation for me during those high school days. By the time we graduated, we were doing a daily Bible Study together in the Quad at lunch time. We discussed passages, challenging each other to consider it from one way or the other, and in time, we became very close companions.
The people in our lives matter - maybe not because they all believe the way we do, or even act exactly like us. They matter because they help us grow, challenging us to go "deeper" in our faith, and keeping us grounded in what matters. I may have lost touch with these two over the years, but their impact on my life will never be forgotten. I learned of the wisdom of some great authors who helped me grow in my faith, grew from the insatiable exploration from cover to cover of my Bible, and understood that we can love and be committed to each other deeply even when we don't see things exactly the same.
Little by little, they began to appreciate "my God" and the beliefs I found so important in my life. In small steps, they edged toward accepting there just might be something to this Creation Theory, Christ and the cross, and the power of resurrection. Most of the time I wanted to be "right" - having them see what I believed to be "best" and "the truth". Some of the time they challenged me to actually show them why "my way" was best or the "only" truth to be believed. If you haven't been challenged at that level, then I wonder if you might not just benefit from finding someone in your "circle" who challenges you that deeply. Just askin!