The pandemic has done its level best to rob us of human interaction. Ubiquitous signage warn us to stay away from each other, circles on sidewalks direct us where to stand and partitions in schools keep kids apart. That is if they are even in school. At Target, the PA system reminds you every five seconds that, for your health and safety, please stay six feet away from other shoppers. And even when we are in person, our faces are covered.
It is overwhelming when you stop and think about it.
So when I had the opportunity to jump on a plane and spend time with some dear friends from out of state, I took it. Fully vaccinated, COVID test negative, I threw on my mask and flew away for a long overdue girls weekend.
At the airport, we made a scene hugging and squealing and carrying on. I noticed folks staring at what I assumed was our proximity. Or maybe it was the way a grown woman leapt into my arms. Hard to say.
Our weekend unfolded into the deep conversations and laughter that are the hallmarks of this friendship. But I also sensed a heaviness in the air. We each have endured loss, pain and difficulty over the past two years that have nothing to do with the pandemic. And on top of that, the pandemic has isolated us and complicated life in general.
The more I though about it, the more it frustrated me that we were weary and discouraged the last time we were together, too. It felt unfair that we couldn’t just enjoy a trip for once without being weighed down by struggles with kids, marriages, work, church, family, hard relationships, trauma or the world in general. I longed for space to just laugh and laugh together without a care in the world. To tell you the truth, I felt annoyed we never get it.
But I had to stop myself and remember: we live in a broken and fallen world. At any given time something will be amiss in one of our lives. In fact, at any given time, some aspect of life will likely be VERY amiss. And this is precisely what makes friendship so precious and sweet and necessary.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.Proverbs 17:17
Friends exist to walk with us through not just fun things, but HARD things. We read in that famous Proverb that a brother is born for adversity. Bible scholars believe this is taken not just in the literal sense of a brother but refers to non-blood, close friends as well.
Brokenness. Grief. Loss. Pain. Fear. These are part of the human experience that we, as brothers and sisters, were born to walk each other through. So maybe, these snippets of time are meant to be a sacred space to lean into. We can laugh together, yes. (And we do.) But we can also lament, encourage, pray and point one another to Jesus through our respective hard seasons. In that sense, our time together is much richer than just a saccharine gals weekend. It is gritty and real and raw and desperately needed.
If you call yourself a friend to anyone, remember that you were born to be a brother or sister to that friend in adversity. And they to you as well. So don’t settle for superficial experiences in your friendships and even in your time together. Lean in. Lament. Pray. Encourage. And of course, don’t forget to laugh.