“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works.” – Hebrews 10:23, 24
They may be few, but I have some amazing friends. Each one with a unique personality, but all share a common purpose: to kick my bottom in their own special way! No, really. They love Jesus. That’s a given. But our friendships are real. Sometimes our conversations steer in a purely biblical direction. Often, we coral around talking each other off the proverbial ledge!
My “pearl girls” know my dirt. They’ve seen the crud and still find the time, expend the energy and invest the resources to keep our sisterhood tight and strong. When I’ve cried a bucket of tears over family matters, they bring the Kleenex and the mop to wipe up the excess. The exchange is reciprocated because that’s what friends do. They challenge one another. They spur one another on to become better. In fact, Jesus sent out 72, but He chose twelve (Mark 3:13-19), shared His transfiguration with three (Matthew 17:1, 2) and wept for one (John 11:35). Don’t want to speculate too much here, but if you spend that much time with someone, you’re bound to share the good, the bad and the ugly of who you are. So I guess you can say, Jesus knows what it means to be a friend.
But we sometimes overlook the obvious. Friends aren’t perfect human beings scripted to meet our every storyline. They mess up. They disappoint. They forget. They offend. They retaliate. They betray. They leave. And yes, they die. I’ve said it before and it bears repeating: it’s our humanity that gets in the way. And yet God’s Son loved His friends in denial (John 13:38) and stood firm in betrayal (Matthew 26:48-50, NLT). In fact, Matthew’s account states this: “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Can you imagine connecting as friends after something or someone nearly destroys your bond?
And though it hurts it should never prevent us from extending ourselves. In the hands of Christ, He bears our hurts. First, He offers His Comforter as a buffer. Much like that little, black dress or those special pair of jeans pushed to the back of our closet, the Holy Spirit comforts our damaged hearts and whips our lethargic, guarded spirits into shape. We reach our true selves when we learn to trust Him more. And that takes time, effort and commitment. We exercise patience as we accept who we are becoming.
What we learn, we share. We get to befriend others needing to fit back into their “little, black dress” or “special pair of jeans” by offering them encouragement through their pain. I remember Tab One. It was one of my nicknames for her. A decade of laughs and tears kept our friendship strong; a series of misunderstandings and ultimately distance weakened our bond. We changed and it hurt. And though we could not step back to erase the past, the Holy Spirit stepped up to redirect our futures. He completed this healing by bringing in comforters to comfort. New “pearl girls” entered our lives and weaved themselves into the fabric of our hearts. He activated 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. And though Tab One and I don’t quite fit the “little, black dresses” of our sister past, we get to size into new relationships because of the comfort we’ve received to move on.
Some bonds last a season and others may linger a lifetime. When the season turns bleak, remember this: there will come a time of reflection, when you remember what joined you together as “pearl girls.” The Comforter understands the changing of the seasons to an ill-fitting relationship. He offers comfort through Jesus and then through others. Don’t be afraid to try them on because as you know, every black dress looks great with a strand of pearls!