Best friends

Everyone wants a best friend. Or if not, one, then a small group of best friends. They want a close person or a tight, secure, reliable group. Besties make us feel secure. They bring us joy. We love them. We need them.

The Bible agrees.

Ecclesiastes 4:8-12 8 This is the case of a man who is all alone, without a child or a brother, yet who works hard to gain as much wealth as he can. But then he asks himself, "Who am I working for? Why am I giving up so much pleasure now?" It is all so meaningless and depressing. 9 Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. 11 And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

When I was six, I found my soul-mate. Her name was Sarah. Nearly the first thing we discovered about each other was that our birthdays were exactly one week apart! Wow. We could have been twins (except for different parents, countries of origin, and of course that the mother would have had to have been in labour for more than 168 hours.)

That didn’t matter. We were twins. And the clincher was the fact that we both had.... red t-shirts and white skirts with flowers on them. Talk about coincidence. It was a friendship made in heaven.

We all want these kinds of relationships. It’s important to work on them, think about them, and desire them.

So, the big question is: how to get these kinds of relationships, right?

I told you Sarah was my best friend at the age of six. We were soul mates. But I didn’t tell you yet that five years later... the relationship was in tatters. The reason: boarding school.

Sarah and I were sort of best friends from afar. She lived up country, I lived in the city. But we wrote, and saw each other a few times a year.

Sarah went off to boarding at the age of 9. At boarding, it’s imperative that you have a buddy, an ally and a best friend, and thus she became best friends with another girl.

I came to boarding school at the age of 11, not knowing that Sarah had switched allegiances. I expected to continue as we had been, but better, because we would finally be in the same place at the same time. It was not to be!

I found myself without a best friend, but also, the target of this other girl, who (I assume) was feeling very threatened by me and my prior relationship with Sarah, and was determined to keep Sarah to herself.

I found myself friendless and targeted. And was consequently very unhappy for a good number of months. My biggest desire was to find a best friend. It was my consuming passion. My friendship failed, and I was determined to get another one. “How can I get a best friend?” was my biggest problem.

But... I was asking the wrong question.

The question is not: how can get this kind of relationship?

But: How can I be the best person for this kind of relationship?

A person desperate for relationships will probably never really succeed in forming them. Because that person is looking for a product. The sort of thing you could buy at a shop. “This is what a best friendship is. I’ll have one. Give it to me. How much do I have to pay for it?”

A person who sees a friendship as a process, not a product, is going to have a lot more success*. You as a person are developing in maturity, character, wisdom, spiritual gifts. Other people around you are doing that too. On our way, we’ll meet each other and benefit from each other. But it’s the process of two-sided character growth that really makes the friendship happen.

*Interestingly – CS Lewis says that people who simply ‘want friends’ can never find any. The very condition of having friends means we should want something else, besides friends. Friendship must be about something.He says: “Those who have nothing can share nothing; those who are going nowhere can have no fellow travellers.” Part of being the best person for this kind of relationship is actually having some interests, some purpose, something you believe in!