“Friendship is being able to have the hard conversations and be willing to listen… Friendship isn’t a big thing – it’s a million little things.”
“… and that’s true for a group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances. Some have achieved success, others are struggling in their careers and relationships, but all of them feel stuck in life. After one of them dies unexpectedly, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. Along the way, they discover that friends may be the one thing to save them from themselves.” (Citytv Synopsis. The show by the same name recently premiered September 26th).
Friendship has been a theme energizing me in the last few years especially as friends my age retire, move away, grasp at a lengthening distance, fall ill, or die. One of the unexpected joys of this stage of my life is to be making friends intergenerationally, and to be receiving friendship like an ever giving gift. It is is vitalizing and invigorating; it provokes me to contemplate the place of friendship along the long arc of our short lives.
The Proverbs tell us:
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity… there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
God the Son, Jesus, is that friend who sticks closer than a brother; his friendship is the relationship that deepens every other friendship. His own example with his closest followers was to articulate the change to the relationship in John 15:15:
I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Having secrets made known includes the secret of being fully known as a person. The Apostle Paul writes:
For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
Sadly, the friends portrayed in A Million Little Things find they are not “fully known”; their secrets threaten to doom them to catastrophic breakdown by the betrayal of what they thought was a profound trust-ship.
Recently Drew Hunter wrote: “You won’t make it alone: Five Reasons You need good Friends.” He begins:
As Australian nurse Bronnie Ware cared for the dying, she heard them express five common regrets again and again. So, what is one of the deepest regrets of the dying? Not prioritizing friendship. On our deathbeds, most of us will wish we connected more often, and more deeply, with friends.
We’re experiencing a friendship famine in our day. As individualism increases, social bonds decrease. And we replace flesh-and-blood relationships with digital illusions of the same. Studies show that Americans have fewer and fewer close friends. Many people don’t feel lonely, but when they stop to think about the depth of their relationships, they often realize that they are more isolated than they thought.
I want to plead with you to live the rest of your days rightly valuing this gift of true friendship. But if we’re going to value friendship as we should, we need to know why it’s so valuable. Why is friendship worth all the effort we can give it?
… What next steps might you take to cultivate deeper friendships? Identify a few people and plan time to get together, such as a weekly rhythm of coffee or lunch. Reach out to a friend you’ve lost regular contact with. Plunge your conversations below the shallows and into the deeper waters of life. Oxygenate your friendships with affirmation and encouragement.
Drew Hunter (@drewfhunter) is the author of Made for Friendship: The Relationship That Halves Our Sorrows and Doubles Our Joys. He is also the teaching pastor at Zionsville Fellowship in Zionsville, Indiana, where he lives with his wife, Christina, and their four sons.
What about your friendships?
Here’s to plunging below the shallows, and oxygenating our friendships with affirmation and encouragement.
Thanks to my friend Bob Foo who sent me the Drew Hunter article and who demonstrates many of a million little things of friendship.