In eighth grade, my friend, Keyanna, picked a flower out of the grass during gym class and said, “For as long as you keep this, we will be friends.” I finally got rid of the dead flower when I moved away to college, but thankfully our friendship is still as strong as ever, twenty years after receiving that stipulation.
When I look at my inner circle of friends, I get chills thinking about how we have different personalities, ethnicities, and world views, and yet our friendships are resilient. We have survived moves, marriages, births, deaths, theological and political disagreements…not to mention about a million PMS cycles.
What allows for friendships to last this long? How can friendships survive the changing seasons of life, cross-cultural dissonance, and conflict?
Perhaps Keyanna’s flower in gym class was not so silly after all. The longevity of friendships is dependent on commitment. What makes friendship so rich is not just having shared interests or conflict resolution skills, but a commitment to staying in each other’s lives and to helping each other grow.
Forty years ago my mom and a few friends decided to meet together every Wednesday morning at 6am to pray. They set a time that wouldn’t conflict with family or work schedules, and they committed to keeping it. Now, forty years later, even though they’re all retired, some have passed away, and their kids have moved out, they still meet at 6am to pray together. They are committed.
I met Rachel eighteen years ago. Rachel weighed one pound when she was born. She calls me often, but I only have capacity to respond about one in ten times. But she doesn’t give up on me. She writes me cards, prays for me, and mails me information on disabilities. She chooses to be my friend even when I am a pretty lousy one. Rachel is committed to me.
As my husband and I dream of buying a house one day, what feels more important than the layout of the house or the type of flooring, is the question of who we will commit to. What city? What church? Which friends? Which neighbors? I pray that these are the questions that drive our decisions, because this type of friendship is worth more than many mansions.
How are you longing for more commitment in your friendships? Who are the people God is inviting you to commit to in this season? What commitments can you make to them that you’re able to keep?
In my next post, I will write about dealing with conflict in friendships.