Confession: I play Trivia Crack. I happen to have retained a lot of obscure knowledge from various sources, not the least of which is my participation in Scholastic Challenge in high school. (Yes, it IS as nerdy as it sounds!) I actually started playing Trivia Crack at the behest of my friend’s ten year old daughter. And then, as the name implies, I became pretty addicted. I have approximately 17 ongoing games with various people. Sports is my worst category. (Shocking.) And I will basically play anyone who asks.
A notification popped up the other day, indicating that I had a “in-game” message from someone. I had recently been ranting about the spam messages I’d been receiving and half expected it to be yet another game cheat message I would have to delete. When I looked at the user name, I knew instantly who it was. It was the friend of my friend’s ten year old daughter. The message read as follows (names changed, of course. No one has a single letter for their name. That would be ridiculous): Hi Cherilyn this is L’s best friend G. I do soccer with her 🙂 !!!
I said hi and stuff and she asked if I wanted to play Trivia Crack with her. I said sure, of course. I always feel bad though, playing with kids. Sure, a lot of the questions are easy enough that they can get them but still. I try not to beat them too badly and I hope for a lot of obscure sports questions so that I’ll miss more. But I digress. This post is not about my philosophy of playing games with my friends’ children and their friends.
“Hi Cherilyn this is L’s best friend G. I do soccer with her 🙂 !!!”
That introduction of herself made me smile. And the more I thought about it, the more I smiled. I didn’t really know if they’re best friends but L’s mother verified that that terminology would be fitting.
I’ve introduced myself in a lot of different ways. “Hi, I’m Cherilyn, David and Charlene’s daughter.” “Hi, I’m Cherilyn. I’m Charanna’s sister.” “Hi, I’m Cherilyn. I’m Margie’s (Bruce’s, Laurie’s, Brody’s, Leslie’s, Hope’s, Casie’s, Rachel’s, Christen’s) friend.” “I’m Cherilyn Wise. I work with the after-school program.” “I’m Cherilyn, I used to work in the dining hall. I’m sorry for your loss.” (That last one was recent, and basically really awkward because I’d actually met the individual before but assumed I wasn’t memorable enough.)
Again, I’ve digressed. But isn’t that a great way of introducing yourself? Not just friend, but best friend. What confidence in their friendship that shows! I’ve had some very good friends from middle school on. I’ve called many of them “best” friends. For the most part, they were best friends. But things change over time and now they’re not. But the surety G has in the friendship she shares with L was impressive. Since college, I haven’t had that kind of confidence in my friendships. I worry that people pretend to like me and that one day they’ll wake up and decide to stop being my friend. (Before you start professing your love and friendship, stop. I won’t believe you anyway. But it’s ok. It’s my problem and I’m working on it.)
The nature of friendship has been on my mind lately, for a lot of reasons: some books I’m reading, Valentine’s Day and its impending focus on love and relationships, and generally just being stuck in my own head. And possibly a short essay I helped L write during the best snow day I’ve ever had.
What is a friend? What is a best friend? As a former English major, classic literary friendships jump to the forefront of my mind. Tom and Huck. Holmes and Watson. George and Lennie. At the thought of that last one, I jumped back. I still vividly remember reading ahead of my class during my senior year. I still remember how angry I was, not necessarily at my teacher for “making” me read about *Spoiler Alert* Lennie’s tragic end, but more because I couldn’t talk to any of my classmates about it. (Look at that, another digression.) Anyway, none of them really fit what I was thinking of; Tom and Huck get into a lot of trouble together, Holmes and Watson solve crime together but it’s really all about Holmes, George literally shoots Lennie to save him from being caught and likely killed by an angry mob.
So I started thinking about friendships in the Bible. The first one that came to mind was that of Ruth and Naomi. (L had actually been writing about that particular friendship last week, which is probably why it was on my mind.) I wonder if Ruth would have said, “Hi, I’m Ruth. I’m Naomi’s best friend” to people she met when they went back to Naomi’s home. She certainly sounded like a best friend when she said,
“Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” Ruth 1:16 ESV.
That sounds like best friendship to me. And if we were to keep reading, we’d find that she acted on the promises she made.
Then there’s David and Jonathan. I can easily imagining both of them introducing themselves as the other’s best friend. I Samuel 18:1-4 ESV says,
“…the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”
Again, if you continue reading, you’d see that these two behaved like two best friends would. And when Jonathan had died, David remained true to his friend, seeking out Jonathan’s son and taking care of him.
I started thinking about who I would call my best friend. Based on the above criteria, I don’t know if I have a best friend right now. But I have about three people that I talk to about the important things in my life. We do things together, when we can. We talk on the phone. We text throughout the day. And I love them. I would do pretty much anything for them. Truth be told, I love them more than mozzarella sticks, which is kind of a big deal. I also thought about who would call me best friend. That one I don’t really know. I think I’m a pretty good friend. I just don’t know if there’s anyone right now who would call me their best friend. Which is ok.
Still, I kept thinking. And I realized that there is at least one person who would introduce Himself as my best friend. But He doesn’t exactly walk up to people and say, “Hi, I’m Jesus. I’m Cherilyn’s best friend.” Nope. I’m supposed to live in a way that shows that He is my best friend. That’s how people know that Jesus is my best friend and that’s how they, ideally, come to know Him as theirs. It’s not a Facebook Friend Suggestion, as Jon Acuff writes. It’s not by me going to church on Sundays and not doing a bunch of stuff that’s deemed “evil.” People are supposed to know that Jesus is my best friend by the way that I love people. I don’t always do a good job.
I need to spend more time praying, reading, listening, etc. My friendships with humans don’t grow by me talking to them once a week about the weather, offering nothing deeper about myself or never listening to what they have to say. Most importantly, I know I need to work on loving people in general more. Because I’m not sure that the message that He’s my best friend is coming in loud and clear. I’m good at loving those who are closest to me. But I often neglect to show love and compassion to those outside of that inner circle.
As for my human relationships, in short, they are one of the most important things to me. I’ve said recently to friends that while I am not 100% satisfied with my job, I love that it allows me to put time into my friendships. It is more important to me that I be able to be the best friend possible to those I care about most. I want to be able to listen to, advise, help, and care for my friends. Being a close friend or even a best friend, means that they’re stuck with me, no matter what. And that I’m willing, if necessary, to ask hard questions and say hard things. Being a friend means that my needs come secondary to my friend’s. My time, my money, my existence are all at my friends’ disposal, if they need it. (Mind you, I’m talking real friends, not just casual acquaintances. That means the Nigerian prince who insists he needs to wire ME money isn’t included in that.)
So what about you? What qualities do you look for in a friend? Do you have those qualities? Who would introduce themselves as your best friend? About whom would you say, “I’m ____________’s best friend”? And would people know that Jesus is your best friend?