I have never been extremely talented when it comes to making new friends. Starting conversations with complete strangers makes me nervous, so I tend to keep to myself. True friends are hard to come by when it’s difficult being open with others. Despite this, I feel that the Lord has blessed me with a close circle of tight-knit friends that I can rely on.
Recently, one of those best friends (let’s call her Katie) moved to a completely new state, far away from where I live now. Katie’s father is a pastor, and he took a job at a new church that just so happened to be on the opposite side of the country. Katie and I have known each other for 6 years now, and when I found out she was leaving, naturally all I could do was cry. I’ve always been prone to crying (sometimes for no reason), but this deep sadness I was feeling got me thinking about friendship in the biblical sense.
Obviously when a close friend or loved-one is no longer a 15 minute car ride away, you are going to notice an empty space within you that they once filled. But does this little void reveal you were valuing their companionship before God, or is it just a symptom of sadness that is natural?
I think the answer to that is ‘not necessarily.’ God places importance on close friends, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Nowadays, at least in most places, we don’t have to sacrifice our lives on a daily basis for our friends. However, a true friend would not be hesitant to risk themselves – emotionally or physically – for another that they truly loved. The ultimate example of this is God’s love for us. He sent his son, Jesus, as a sacrifice for our sin.
On the other hand, we know all too well that we tend to place importance on things in our earthly lives before God. I think that this is not only applicable to material goods, but also to things like friendships. If we value other peoples’ companionship before spending time in our relationship with God, then that is something of an issue. Therefore, it is important to have close friendships and connect with others, but our earthly friends should never surpass God.
My heart will miss Katie with a deep sorrow, the fellowship that we had together and the companionship she provided me. With today’s technology, it’s super easy to contact people who don’t live close to you, but there is something about being able to talk to a friend face-to-face. That being said, I recognize that every relationship will experience a struggle or set-back; nonetheless, we should trust God that what He is doing is for a purpose, whether to strengthen us or to expand our horizons.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that true friendships are an amazing gift from God and that we should value them immensely, but that we should also remember to place God in our hearts before anything else. We need to also accept the fact that God won’t prevent change, and if that means a close friend moving away, then we need to accept it and not wallow in despair.
(Katie, this one’s for you. Thank you.)
words by Grace Butler and photo by Hannah Jin