A close friend asked me if I thought we would still be friends after going to university. She was going to be in Kingston, and I in Toronto. Surprised, I insisted that we would always be friends – no matter what. Unsatisfied, she persisted that people change – if she changed, would I still be friends with her?
Similar questions of friendship constantly plagued me throughout university. As an introvert on a rather large campus, it was hard to make friends outside of living in residence and joining clubs. With class sizes of 400 and 600, I could rarely expect to find the same classmate to sit with the next week. Even when I made friends in class, once the course was over I hardly saw them again.
I liked having friends and making friends, but I wanted friendships that lasted. A friendship that could last through change and different life directions, through good times and bad, for better or for worse. Friendship is the building stone for relationship (romantic or otherwise) – at least a relationship that involves trust, commitment, and forgiveness. However, such qualities can be hard to come by in friendships that can be so fleeting.
Certainly, there are the few that I have such a friendship with, those that I can be totally vulnerable with. When I consider the kind of close relationship I have with them, I am reminded of the type of friendship that I so desire to have: a friendship that overcomes all obstacles, forgives all inadequacies, and loves for all time. The great thing about this model is that it is not simply an imagined blueprint but a real relationship that can be experienced.
I have experienced such a friendship. The person I have this relationship with is one who did all things possible to remove the distance between us, one who saw my failures and yet accepted me, and one who loved so much that he was willing to give up his life for me. As it says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NIV).
This sacrificial friendship is what I crave to have, and crave to give to others. But without understanding what this true friendship is, I cannot hope to experience it. Without understanding who the person behind this friendship is, I cannot hope to know how to live it.
This person is Jesus, and the everlasting friendship he has with me – the unfathomable love he pours over me – is the solid foundation upon which other relationships can be built on.
Have you experienced a truly lasting and unconditional friendship such as this?