In case you live in a hole and didn’t see the millions of videos on your news feed, Facebook had a “Friends Day” this past week.
I, like most, watched my video…and found it disappointing. First of all, the “friends” they included were pretty much all my family. While I love my family and appreciate them, I thought it was supposed to be “Friends Day” not “Family Day” (although I’m sure they’ll come up with a way to make money off that day as well). The few friends it did include were friends from years ago or just random acquaintances that I don’t really hang out with. Some were embarrassing pictures of my before-the-beard era (shudder!).
So yeah, Facebook failed me. Hey, at least I wasn’t like the people who tried to make videos only to have Facebook tell them they didn’t have enough friends for that. Ouch…
I think I know why Facebook can’t get it right when it comes to my friends. Because my friendships go much deeper than mere social media. In fact, my closest friends probably aren’t the ones always popping up on my news feed or posting selfies with me. Because our friendship is beyond that.
The relationship I have with my closest friends is more like what Paul describes in 1 Thessalonians 2:8 about his relationship with the Thessalonians (whom he did not know for very long, mind you):
“So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.”
You see, my real friends aren’t the ones who just like my photo. No, they’re the ones I can go to coffee with and talk about life for hours on end. My real friends are the ones I can be vulnerable with. I can admit my flaws. I can take off the mask. I can feel free to wipe away the smile and admit my life is falling apart. And they’ll listen. And they’ll care.
And I know they’ll still be friends with me after all that.
I love my friends. God has blessed me so deeply, and I’m beyond words to describe the debt of gratitude I owe so many people in my life. I’ve been thinking about this for weeks, but only now have I found the words to express how grateful I am for my friends.
I hate discussing politics with people I don’t know very well, because it seems to hinder relationship-building. But I have one friend with whom I can discuss any topic, no matter how controversial, no matter how dumb my argument is…and he’ll still be my best friend. He’s pretty awesome.
I have another friend who always invites me to his room, lets me borrow spiritual books, and engages in deep spiritual conversations with me. He loves to help me in the various tasks I have to do around campus and without him, my life would probably have fallen apart a long time ago. He’s pretty awesome too.
I have a friend who can make me laugh one moment and cry the next as he shares his burdens with me. I have friends who will still hang out with me even though I spend the whole time blabbing on and on about my problems (and probably giving some bad advice). I have friends who will text me and say they’re praying for me. I have friends who confront me when I’m wrong. I have friends who give me good counsel when I need it. Yes, my friends are super awesome!
For a long time, I’ve prayed for a mentor. Someone older and wiser who could help me prepare for ministry life. And I’ve never really had that. But God’s shown me that He’s already given me some, just not quite what I expected. He’s sent some younger guys, maybe just a few years older than I am, who have taken so much time to invest in me. Friends at church. Staff at college. I am forever indebted to these people for making me what I am today.
Yep, I’m a people person. It’s not like I’ve had any trouble making friends. But building deep friendships has always been a lot harder for me. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. It’s just that during my childhood and teen years, I moved an average of every six years. Just when I would develop a deep bond with someone, I would move away or they would. But in recent years, God has really opened up the door to building deep relationships with a some amazing people.
So yeah, I love my friends. You know who you are. Ya’ll are pretty awesome. Thanks!
No, this isn’t some cool video. But I think it’ll do…
Happy (belated) Friends Day!