It’s so easy to look around at the people the Lord has placed in my life and feel thankful for the wonderful friendships I am blessed with. I’m not sure if my words can do the power of friendship justice but I’m going to try to articulate it for you in a series of posts over the next couple of weeks focusing on the key principles I consider important in friendship.
In Proverbs (the MSG version) we are told…
“Friends love through all kinds of weather” Proverbs 17:17
Did you get that? ALL kinds of weather. A true friend will be there for you in the sunny days when you’re happy and life is good. But a true friend will also be there in the stormy weather when the rains of sadness are coming and the windy turbulence of life makes us want to shut ourselves away and hide from the world! They will also be there for you in the grey ‘blah’ days when you can easily lose sight of what is important – when we are perhaps a little too comfortable with mediocrity and trying our best to stay off everyone else’s radar. Do you know what I mean? After the storms sometimes it’s easier to push people away, shut off from the world and live in our little bubbles. Like Naomi in Ruth 1 after the death of her two sons…
“Return home, my daughters. Go on, for I am too old to have another husband. … No my daughters, my life is much too bitter for you to share, because the Lord’s hand has turned against me. ” Ruth 1: 11-13
Naomi pushed Ruth and Orpah away – she didn’t want to hold them back. She felt her life wasn’t good enough for them and she didn’t want her bitterness to keep them from being happy.
She thought she was doing the right thing by them but Ruth was a good friend and wasn’t going anywhere.
“But Ruth replied: Don’t plead with me to abandon you or to return and not follow you. For wherever you go I will go, and wherever you live I will live; and your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. Where you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me, and do so severely , if anything but death separates you and me. ” Ruth 1:16-17
Naomi gave Ruth an out – she had a chance to escape the bitterness like Orpah but she remained faithful and pledged her loyalty no matter what. This chapter of Ruth goes on to tell us how Naomi was bitter, she felt empty and afflicted. She probably wasn’t much fun to be around at this point in her life but Ruth hung in there – she stayed at her side. She moved to a new place, left her family behind and she was determined to show her loyalty to Naomi; which in turn showed her loyalty to God…
“Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
As a kid in Sunday school I always remember the focus on the second half of the book of Ruth – when she meets Boaz and eventually marries him and bears him a son – Obed, the grandfather of David. But as I’ve grown up those words of Ruth have stuck in my head…
“Wherever you go I’ll go”
What an example of friendship and loyalty that is for us all. It can be hard sometimes to hang in there when the going gets tough. I remember a few years ago facing some difficult challenges – I was distracted and focused on getting through it with my family. We had a great support network around us but I wasn’t necessarily chasing friends outside of that close circle to keep in touch and as thing started to settle I reached out to a friend who had grown distant. I explained why I hadn’t been in touch as my focus had been elsewhere. The response shocked me – she said she had sensed I had some stuff going on and that’s why she’d kept her distance. So when I most needed support and friends to try and cheer me up – she bailed out?! That experience was a real lesson and eye opener for me. Proverbs 17 doesn’t say friends will be there when the sun is shining – it says they will be there in ALL weather.
In a Facebook post at the weekend I mentioned I had taken Evie to see the new My Little Pony movie with a friend and it encouraged me to go ahead and share some of the posts I’d been preparing for a while. I have to say it was a fab movie and a really good way to teach kids about the importance of friendship. There were some really good songs (in my opinion) and some of the lyrics have been stuck in my head since Saturday – particularly this wee tune ‘We Got this Together’…
“Sometimes the pressure gets you down and the clouds are dark and grey. Just kick them off and let the sun shine through. And scary as it seems, more help is on the way ’cause friends have friends that wanna help out too. We got this.”
True friends should be putting on their Peter Storm jackets and their wellies and standing side by side in the pouring rain while the elements beat down. As unpleasant as it might be – that is loyalty!
“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!
Two in a bed warm each other. Alone, you shiver all night. By yourself you’re unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.”