This week, I had the privilege of having dinner with a childhood friend. We sat, talked, and reminisced about the “good old days” while discussing babies, weddings, and current careers. In mere minutes, we were transported from living different lives in our late 20s to the age of 12. And I have to admit, it was refreshing.
On my drive home, I started thinking about just how much this friend and I had gone through compared to my friendships now. This particular friend saw me through my teenage days, braces, and high school heartbreaks.
Back then, we knew everything about each other – and so did our parents. They put up with playdates, birthday parties, high school drama, and everything in between. As for my post-college friends, I don’t know that I’ve even asked them their mom’s first name.
It just isn’t the same … and it wasn’t meant to be.
Hopefully, you’re reading this, and a meaningful friend from years ago pops into your mind. You knew everything about them then, and maybe you still do! You know where their parents live, their favorite restaurant, and possibly their favorite childhood movie.
But of course, those swing-set memories fade into the distance as time marches on. Separated by work, state lines, or troubling scenarios, it is rare that our prized child or adulthood friendships withstand the test of time.
A 2021 Survey Center on American Life poll confirmed this troubling diagnosis. It read:
Many Americans do not have a large number of close friends. Close to half (49 percent) of Americans report having three or fewer. More than one-third (36 percent) of Americans report having several close friends—between four and nine. Thirteen percent of Americans say they have 10 or more close friends, which is roughly the same proportion of the public that has no close friends (12 percent),
The number of close friendships Americans have appears to have declined considerably over the past several decades. In 1990, less than one-third (27 percent) said they had three or fewer close friends, while about as many (33 percent) reported having 10 or more close friends. Only 3 percent said they did not have any close friends.
We no longer live in a world where our friendships flourish. Between work, self-care, family, kids, and never-ending responsibilities, it is no surprise when friendships are the first thing we neglect. After all, being a friend is hard.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17).
A friend loves without obligation and is present through the good and the bad. Sometimes, it’s celebrating joyous occasions. But other times, it’s providing a shoulder to cry on through life’s unavoidable difficulties.
But as the verse says, a brother is born for adversity.
The Lord has given us the gift of many different relationships. He let us have spouses, mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, children, the list could go on … but he went further and gave us the cherished gift of friendship.
And that gift comes with responsibility.
John 15:13-17 says,
Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you (John 15:13-17).
Jesus, the Savior of the world, called us His friend. And He cherished that relationship so much that He laid down His life for us – not just one person – but for every soul who walks upon the earth.
How many friends (or family members) would you lay down your life for?