As I reflect on 28 years of marriage, I would be able to say, without hesitation or reservation, that my husband is my very best friend … for many reasons.
I’ve heard people say that if we have one true friend in our lives, we are lucky. I’m hoping that in a circle of Christ followers, this number would be higher, but I’m very aware that there are people in churches everywhere who feel like they don’t have even one friend. Even as I type that, I can honestly say it’s hard for me to even begin to comprehend that. Maybe I’m naïve, but I have what I consider to be several true friends in my life. One of the definitions I came across for “friend” was: a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, typically exclusive of sexual or family relations. It’s interesting to me that a friend would be considered to be someone that is outside one’s own family.
I would guess most of us have referred to “family and friends” as if they are separate groups. There are hundreds of cards and frames and pictures that contain messages to family members that say something like “you’re not only my sister, but also my friend.” So I do get it, I just don’t really live that way.
When I say someone is my friend, I don’t first mean that it is someone who is necessarily outside my family. Thankfully, many of my friends are family members. I also am not intending to imply that we since we are friends, we have no differences or disagreements. I don’t mean that we’ve never argued or said or done things that hurt the other person. It definitely isn’t being close in proximity. Some of my dearest friends live far away, and have for years.
MY definition of friend: a person you can trust to have your best interest in their heart, to the best of their humanly-flawed ability. And when they don’t, and if they recognize it, they try to make it right.
Can we ever be more to another person that that? As fallen people, there are no perfect friendships. Forgiveness must be a part of every relationship we expect to succeed in our lives. And as Ruth Graham is known to have said, “marriage is a union of two good forgivers.”
So for me, there really isn’t a distinction within the family of God between family and friends. Jesus said of His followers that they were all His brothers and sisters. The wise writer of Proverbs said “a man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Although there are many interpretations of this verse, I take it to mean – based on the rest of the principles taught in Proverbs – that we can have lots of acquaintances who aren’t true friends, but true friends stick by us in good times and bad, like family (would/should).
This weekend I am celebrating the life I have with my friend and husband. I say that because I know (as much as I can know) that he has my best interest in his heart to the best of his humanly-flawed ability. And he seeks to act on that consistently. When he hasn’t, he seeks to make it right.
There are other things about our relationship that make it a great friendship: trust, deep conversations, honesty, loyalty, laughter and commitment. But the truth is that even with all of these wonderful things, we are sinful and selfish. Yep, we are humanly-flawed. So forgiveness is essential.
28 years ago I said “I promise to love you, Brent …” And by that, I meant that he would be my lifetime friend.
So far. So good.
Happy Anniversary to my very best friend.