I sat across the table listening to their laughter and admiring the bond between two older women I’d just met at a luncheon. Their friendship was uncommon and my heart craved the kind of connection they had.
The way they loved each other, how well they knew each other and how much they enjoyed being together reminded me of a Hallmark commercial. But this wasn’t television, it was real life.
When I asked how long they’d known each other, they both replied, “More than 60 years.”
More than 60 years? Now I was more interested in listening than eating lunch. I put down my fork and picked up a pen to take notes. How did they meet? What did they do to build a lifelong friendship? What kind of moments and memories filled all those years and kept their hearts so closely knit together? Here’s what I discovered:
1.They were intentional about making their friendship last because it mattered to them. After meeting in grade school, their friendship grew and continued long after they both married their high school sweethearts, who played football together.
2. Things had to be planned and time together had to be priority. Their families vacationed together for years. And when they were young and had little money, they’d all get together for a meal while the kids played in the yard. But as their kids got older it became more challenging, so they’d get together and play cards once a week — a tradition that was still going strong.
3. They determined early on they would be there for each other no matter what. These two lifelong friends were now widowed and counted on each other for companionship and laughter, weekly shopping adventures and everything in between. And they had an understanding between them. If one of them starts feeling down she’ll call the other and say, “Hey, I need to get out of the house.” And then they go do something together.
I thought about how different our generation is, how busy we are. How much we rely on screen time more than face-to-face time.
A twinge of sadness came over me. Would there be anyone in my life I would have known for 40 or 50 years, much less 60 years, when I am 70 or 80 years old? Besides my husband, which friend will be able to finish my sentences? Who will know me better than I know myself?
From the beginning of time, God created us to be in relationship — with Him and each other.
Designed in His image, our need for connection comes from God, who has always been in community: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Jesus’ final prayer for His friends challenges me. In it, He prays they will know the Father the way He does, and that the world would know His love because of their love for one another, “… that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you” (John 17:21a).
In Jesus’ prayer for His closest friends, we find His heart’s desire for us to be closely connected with each other.
How can we do this better? Could we get creative and get together for lunch during a busy workday, or meet to plan menus for our families each week, do laundry at one of our houses, take turns cleaning out each other’s closets or running errands together?
That was their secret. They wanted to be together and so they made sure they were.
Lord, the longer I live the harder it seems to build close friendships. With family and work, and all I have on my plate, intimate friendships drop to the bottom of my priorities. And yet I know real-life friendships are part of what You want for me. Show me how to get creative, find a new starting point and be intentional by reaching out to a friend this week.
How often do you make time for friendships? What is one step you can take today to grow closer to a friend you already have or make a new one?