Benny and I were talking about friendship this morning and he told me I need a drinking buddy. lol (For me that means Chai or cherry vanilla Coke.) I told him that my “drinking buddy” lives about 2 1/2 hours from here and yes, a trip to see her was in order. He said he meant someone here in the same town. I told him I didn’t know anyone well enough yet to just call at the spur of the moment like I did in past places we’ve lived and besides, I like the friends I have. There’s already a built in trust there. Would you believe he started quoting scripture at me? I rolled my eyes at him and he said he was serious. Here’s what he paraphrased:
“Never abandon a friend – either yours or your father’s. Then in your time of need, you won’t have to ask your relatives for assistance. It is better to go to a neighbor than to a relative who lives far away.” Proverbs 27:10 NLT
The NIV says it like this: “…better a neighbor nearby than a brother far away.” the footnote says “Do not fail a friend in need; when in need rely on friendship rather than on mere family relationships. Brother far away could mean either physically or emotionally.
He said, “It’s the whole community thing Niki. You’re not always going to have someone far away to talk to, and God wants you to make friends right here, get involved, whatever.” We talked for awhile about the importance of community and how hard it is to find or build sometimes. Community is what our family is all about. We believe it is in that context that needs get met, people know they matter, and the love of God is shared. Community is not age-segregated either. The young have things to teach the old and vice versa, so why constantly separate them? Community is something I believe we all long for. A place to fit in, contribute, and be loved. Sadly we have rarely found it in the churches we’ve attended. We had pseudo-community. We contributed and we were loved (by some), but we never quite fit in. Maybe that’s because as a paid staff member you’re not treated normally by the congregation. It’s very different than choosing to attend a church just because. There are expectations launched from every side, you have to “earn your keep” so to speak. With some there is this invisible barrier erected between the ministers and the rest of the flock. It can be placed there by either party, but it’s there. I have been guilty of that myself. Or maybe we didn’t fit in because we’re weird. Or maybe because we were there to challenge the status quo and that always makes people uncomfortable. Evidently we don’t do “high church” very well. But, everywhere we’ve lived we had a few families that were really family to us too. I believe God placed them in our lives and they were and continue to be huge blessings to us.
Community isn’t, or shouldn’t be about what you wear, what you look like, what you have pierced or tattooed, which version of the bible you prefer, if you sit in the front or the back, being in the same tax bracket, etc. Community is and should be who you are, what you proclaim, how you love, and how you serve – together. Community to me is a bunch of people of various ages and interests coming together to form a group that is really extended family. Worshipping together, attending soccer games and choir concerts of the kids in the family, celebrating special occasions together, taking a genuine interest in each other’s lives. Not just coming to a building once or twice a week to meet together, do your thing, and going your separate ways until the next time the doors are open. It’s hard! We’re all so busy.
How does this tie all together? I have no trouble making new friends. My problem is at this time in my life, I don’t want surface friendships with women I’m only going to see on Sundays. I want to be part of a real community. If I can’t find it, I’ll create it. There are two friends from college here in Denver that I’d like to get to know all over again. I have a few youth ministry friends here as well. My mentor friend Linda (my drinking buddy) lives in Buena Vista, but it’s not too far away to visit her. I never want to let go of my friends that are far away, and I hope our relationships continue to grow as we do, but it is time to put down some roots and make some friends here, and not depend on my far away friends so much when I’m lonely and need “girltime” or “momtime”. I’m going to bloom where I’ve been planted! To do that, I have to tend to my garden here, cultivate my face to face friendships, and please, no fertilizer jokes! 🙂
Father, I am tremendously blessed with a great group of men and women to call friends! Thank you Lord for this gift in my life. Help me to be the encouragement and light that you want me to be, and please lead me to my new friends here in Denver. I place my trust in you alone. Amen.