People can be complicated.
Friendships can be messy.
Knowing more can be scary.
With the knowing, the deeper truths, and the closer expressions of concern, can come the fears, the denials, and the silence.
The dark days of friendship.
A couple of friends once asked me if my young teen daughter could arbitrate between their two teens. I could hardly believe my ears. The three of us were close, so I shared my many concerns and said no.
The ramifications were astounding: a seeming total breakdown in all communication.
They literally continued being friends to each other without me and my daughter.
A full year later, we were all at an event at a park. One of these friends had a newly-minted, biggest-baddest car-of-the-year and asked me if I would enjoy taking it around the park with her.
Still the idea of sitting behind all 4 million horses under that hood was too tempting and we took her for a spin at park speed: 5 mph. Ha.
It was glorious and just destroyed my mini-van, in my eyes.
However, what happened during that drive was more. Far more. This dear friend apologized. She said she was wrong. She had thought I was wrong but she saw differently later. She thanked me for my dedication to truth and to our friendship. I thanked her for the same two things.
We are still friends, the kind that can be apart for a year and then take it up like we were just days apart. Which we did.
This was deep.
This was asking advice on children and giving it.
This was disagreeing and staying cool for a year.
This was trusting an apology would fix it.
This was forgiving wrongs. Deep, deep, deep, like few, few, few friendships ever can be.
The ancients called these types of friendships leb in Hebrew and philos in Greek, implying core understanding, brotherhood. This friend would visit a friend in jail. This friend would give up a year of pleasure for a friend. This friend would help a relative of a friend, if asked; would party and rejoice at a friend’s joy. Read about it in Ruth 2:13 and John 3:29.
But it can backfire.
All people have at their fingertips the ability to do wrong. This is what we risk in every relationship, but the closer we grow, the more we risk.
The closer we are, the more accurately we can aim our weapons.
And, oh, the more it hurts.
This is a call for caution.
Some people are broken and do not know how to be a friend. Befriending them will always be a lopsided venture, more give than take, like dancing with someone who doesn’t know the steps. Befriending them will always carry risk. Befriending someone who might backfire is a noble calling, not a picnic.
As long as we remember each of us is able to fail, as long as we dedicate ourselves to befriending and not to collecting fun people, we can proceed. We can gently and lovingly share the truth in hope, not that the friendship will one day benefit ME, but that it will one day bring glory to God.
And that is where we all should be.