Recently I have made a new friend at the school where I teach. She is more than 10 years younger than me, but age has never been an issue with me. I have had friends who are much older than me and friends who are much younger than I. The quality that really attracts me to any friend is her authenticity. Nothing is more delightful than someone who is comfortable just being her self.
A friend like that is like your favorite pair of jeans. Sometimes you just want to grab your “go-to” outfit without thinking too hard about how nice you look. Sometimes you just want to wear something comfortable that you won’t have to be adjusting or fussing with all day long. Sometimes you just want those jeans that are a bit worn and always the perfect fit. Yeah, a real friend is like a great pair of jeans… you never want to take them off.
My new friend is “sweet”. That is the first word that I would use to describe her- and it’s a genuine quality in her. The other day I had a crazy thought. I wondered if it could actually hurt to be so sweet. I mean, it would pain me to try so hard to be sweet, but she seems to come by it naturally. I don’t think anyone would use the word “sweet” to describe me. I have a stubborn, ornery streak that spices up the flavors of my personality. (I come by that naturally too. My mom says I’m just like my dad.) At least I don’t perceive myself as being sweet like my friend is.
But my favorite thing about my new friend is how she talks about Jesus. Our conversations nearly always wind their way around to Jesus. We both love God with all our hearts and have dedicated our lives to serving Him, so naturally we would talk about God a lot. My friend’s conversations are always so uplifting and refreshing. I’ve had some friends who talk about God in a pious, self-righteous sort of tone and that just rubs me the wrong way. But my friend talks about Jesus in a personal way that I can identify with. She is not ashamed to tell of times when Jesus has scolded her in her heart for a bad attitude or revealed a falsehood in her way of thinking. She is not afraid to admit when she screwed up and to ask God to forgive her. And this is a lesson that I am still learning for myself. I always feel closer to Jesus after I’ve talked with my friend.
In my taxonomy of friendship, I know I have a really great friend when I feel like I never get enough of spending time with this person. Normally people wear me out, but when I realize that a friend fills me up instead of drains me, this is a good thing. I only get to eat lunch (18 minutes) a few times a week with my friend and to see her a few times in passing in the hallway. So yeah, I feel like I don’t get to spend enough time with her. She doesn’t drain me; she leaves me always wanting more.
Since she is a single girl living overseas and away from her family, I invited her to our Thanksgiving dinner with the other missionary families that we work with here. Secretly I was hoping that we would get to spend more time talking together… and we did. We spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen together. (I broke a wooden spoon stirring my thick, gluey mashed potatoes and we died laughing at that!) Then we joined the other missionaries for our big feast.
Not only did we get full of food, but we filled up our spirits as well. We talked of Jesus and what he’s doing in our lives. We laughed and enjoyed each other’s company. We got teary-eyed telling each other touching personal stories. I feel like our hearts were even more knitted together over our turkey and pie. So for me, it was a wonderful Thanksgiving Day and I have so much to be thankful for. I am very thankful for my new friend who encourages me and builds up my faith. I wish we all had a friend like her.