On a sun-drenched Saturday several years ago, we gathered at Jen’s house, each bringing a glass or porcelain plate. On Jen’s driveway, we took turns dropping our plates. After each one shattered, we walked around and picked up a few of each other’s shards to add to a few of our own.
Because this is what good friends do: become safe places to break wide open and share the shards of the mess.
We took each other’s broken plate pieces and placed them in a heart-shaped molded plaster. When we were satisfied with our individual mosaics, we worked grout in between the shards.
Because this is what the best kind of friends do: they hold onto each other’s broken parts and encourage Christ’s love to enter all the in between places.
Sometimes I’ve done this well and other times not so much.
If you expect me to be a perfect friend/sister/daughter, you’ll be sorely disappointed. I’ll mess up and be selfish and want to talk too much and listen too little. I’ll laugh obnoxiously loud. I might forget your birthday, and if we’re meeting for coffee, there’s a good chance I’ll be running late.
Only Jesus gives us never-disappointing, always-fulfilling friendship and support.
I smile remembering one of my favorite pictures of genuine friendship: the story of Ruth and Naomi.
Ruth had such devotion to Naomi, she vowed not even death itself would come between them. Ruth adopted Naomi’s faith, so she knew they would spend life in eternity together. But while they lived and breathed on earth, Ruth did everything in her power to be the kind of friend who celebrated and completed Naomi. In other words, Ruth did not do anything that would separate their hearts or drive a wedge in their friendship.
Like the colorful pieces in a mosaic, loving friends reflect vibrant beauty in practical ways. And while those outward expressions show love, my inward heart must be in the right place. Because like the grout between glass and porcelain shards, the right heart holds everything together.
To ensure a right heart within me, I must make wise day-to-day decisions about how to interact with my friends, not to do anything that drives a wedge in our friendships. So I keep this tucked away. I don’t follow it perfectly, but it shows my heart’s goal.
A Manifesto for You, Friend
I will be a safe place. I won’t share your confidences.
If I talk about you behind your back, I will use words that build you up and show you off.
I will defend your reputation rather than contribute to its demise.
I will show humility through encouragement, and do my best to let my actions reflect the way Jesus sees you.
I will allow a united spirit of completion rather than a divisive spirit of competition enter our friendship.
I will pray for you when you ask me to.
I will be accountable and trustworthy — my yes will be a yes.
I will be for you and not against you, even when what I say may sting a bit.
I will be there to share in both hard and good, to divide the sorrow and double the joy.
I will give your kids extra grace when they are ornery in front of me. And when they are having a moment, the only thought I’ll entertain is it must be your turn for the hard day. Yesterday was mine. And probably tomorrow, too.
I will forgive you when you make a mistake. While I can’t control how you behave towards me, I can control how I behave towards you. And I’ll do my level best to err on the side of grace and love because heaven knows I need to receive it as much as I need to give it.
Let us treat others with care, always aware of how we can be a safe place of belonging for those we’re called to be with. And then we’ll know we belong, too.
Only Jesus gives us never-disappointing, always-fulfilling friendship and support. -@Kristen_Strong: Click To Tweet