June 19, 2014

Friendship is the Best Ship

I’m really into friendship. Even in spite of my introversion and associated people-aversion, I really really love friendship. And this week has been particularly full of thoughts on the subject.

I visited Jackson in Brooklyn this weekend. He just moved into the apartment that is to be our first place together once I wrap up school. I was only around for the weekend, but we decided to check out a church while I was in town. I’d heard a lot of good things about a new church plant in Brooklyn and figured it was as good a time as any to make an adventurous subway excursion to check it out. In God’s typical way, the sermon was about friendship. But not in the “Friends are great, fellowship often, drink local coffee” sort of way. The pastor covered the Trinity (first of all, who does that casually in Sunday sermon? It was awesome) and explained that the Holy Spirit is the spiritual embodiment of the deep relationship and connection between God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son. So the Holy Spirit is ultimately the deep, all-encompassing, understanding and supportive nature of ideal friendship. It would be an understatement to say the sermon blew my mind. But it also made total sense, and lent words to the powerful bonds I’ve felt with friends before, especially this past year.

The reflection on friendships extended beyond the sermon and into our wedding planning. We aren’t planning on getting married until next summer so there’s lots of time to make decisions, but some things have to be sorted out early like venue and budget. A lot of those decisions are dictated by guest list which brings me back to the friendship topic. In considering who should be invited, I found my list far exceeded what we’d loosely set as a cap in an effort to keep the budget even remotely reasonable. Like I said, I’m really into friendship. As mentioned in my last post, I tend to get attached relatively quickly and then spend a decent amount of time stressing over how to make the people in my life feel special, cared about, and important. That means my list was long in an effort to make virtually every person I’ve known who has been impactful feel included and recognized. As nice as it would be to have a reception full of every person in my life (a la the final scene of the lovely movie Big Fish), that’s not feasible or reasonable or necessary.

While we won’t have to finalize our guest list for some time, the exercise of considering my friends resulted in me mulling over types of friendships. Every friendship is not the same. Very few are persistent and lasting across years. While that thought used to sadden me, I realized that was the wrong attitude. Every interaction, every moment, is planned and ordained by my awesome and brilliant God, who has a purpose for all things. Some friendships are intense but fleeting. Others are slow and steady, taking time to develop and withstanding the tests of time, distance, and life changes. But no friendship is not worthwhile.

I’ve had “in the moment” friends who have made a difference, even briefly by comforting me, challenging me, or simply accompanying me in a snippet of time. I’ve had “transition friends” - as in those who have aided in a change in my life like being the new employee or changing locations (which I’ve been through quite a bit of). I’ve at “ebb and flow” friends who are there for me always, but their presence in my life is dynamic dependent on both of our situations. And of course there are the “always” friends, who I will be able to call in ten years, regardless of how often we’ve spoken, and know they’d help me in a heartbeat. I’ve also been blessed with friends who are even more than friends - friends with whom I share a deep bond, aided by the power of Christian love and the deep commitment to the same ideals. Those are forever friends, but within their own subcategory. People who not only understand me, but help me to be my best self. What’s particularly cool about these friends is that they impact me at all times, even when not immediately present, by being role models and examples and all-the-time carers of the world and people within it. They’re pretty amazing people.

Friends are wonderful. I’m immensely grateful for the relationships in my life, both past and present. I’m often overwhelmed with deep love towards those in my life and it has become abundantly clear that this is exactly what the pastor was talking about. That feeling is the presence of the Holy Spirit. And wow, it’s pretty awesome.

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