I have had 4 best friends in my lifetime thus far. Each person has contributed to my life in a special way, but one will always stick out among the rest. Laura did something special for me that I was only able to articulate through grief counseling, after her passing. I found this truth in an old journal I came across recently. My therapist thought it was profound enough for me to write down.
“Laura and I helped free one another from (the bad bits of) our past. We enabled each other to become more whole. We gave each other the ability to live life more fully.”
I realize that my time with Laura was life changing for 3 reasons. Our friendship came at an important period of growth- college. My time with Laura was limited, so it remains a precious memory. Laura also reflected Jesus better than any other human I have ever known.
In retrospect, I have learned most of what I know about friendship from my time with Laura. However, I have found many principles in scripture which have deepened what I remember of her. She wasn’t original. She just exemplified these things in my life.
1 Peter 1:22- You were cleansed from your sins when you obeyed the truth, so now you must show sincere love to each other as brothers and sisters. Love each other deeply with all your heart.
The word “deeply” sounds romantic. The greek word there is ektenos. It means earnestly, fervently, and intensely. None of those words sound less serious than the other. Peter, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, commanded us to intensely love one another with our whole hearts. Laura did that for me and now I can’t help but do that for others. I’m not perfect. I’m far from being selfless. I do tend to be accused of being intense though. I got that from Laura, who lived this passage well.
John 13:34- So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other.
This is an impossible task. How could anyone love another person the way Jesus loved us? It’s only with God’s help. We cannot do this in our human nature. We can only love each other with a holy love when we are possessed by the holy one. I won’t pretend that Laura was perfect, but I have a hundred stories about how she loved me with a holy love. I am challenged to do this for others daily.
1 Peter 3:8- All of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be tender-hearted, and keep a humble attitude.
Being tender-hearted was a great challenge Laura pushed me through. I came to college with many walls. I wanted to be tough and unaffected by the feelings of others. Instead, I came out of college more empathetic than I could have dreamed of being. Laura taught me compassion for my fellow brothers and sisters. Sometimes I wish that I could reverse this life lesson, because being cold feels like winning. Being tenderhearted means being vulnerable. I’ve only learned how vulnerability is true strength since her passing.
Romans 12:15- Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.
In this chapter, Paul commanded us to love each other genuinely, rather than pretending. I believe verse 15 is part of the practical application of that command. This is what was modeled for me through Laura. We laughed and played together when we were happy. We held each other and wept together when we were sad.
When I think back on this God-given friendship, I am reminded of David and Jonathan. 1 Samuel 18 says that their souls were knit together. I have never heard one man say that about their friendship with another man. I haven’t even heard a woman say that about her relationship with another woman. It seems too intense. Yet, it was true of a pure friendship in the Old Testament. After Jonathan’s death, David describes his love as being deeper than the love of a woman.
I strongly believe that biblical friendships would clear up some of the sexual confusion our world faces today. We’ve made love sexual because we do not understand deep brotherly love. I have much more to say about this, but I will save it for my next blog. For now, I will leave you with a challenge. How are you doing in the friend department? Are the truths in these passages a goal of yours? They’re a goal of mine. I’m far from achieving them, but I’ve got them in mind. I’m hoping you will keep them in your mind as well. A little brotherly love could go a long way in today’s hateful world.