I am reminded of a conversation I had while visiting another friend about fifteen years ago. We were on an evening walk through the neighborhoods near his home, enjoying Christmas decorations so many people had put out. I remember the lights and my excitement about so many things that had been going on in my life. At the time my friend was wrestling with some difficult issues and he responded by telling me that relationships were often like a wheel. Sometimes we ride it together to the top, while at other times we’re alone heading downward. We discover ourselves under the wheel with the weight of others trying their best to stay on top. Eventually something breaks and we find ourselves riding to the top again, while many of those we love and care for are still under the wheel. In these friendships there is no competition, only a desire for each other’s best. It’s a cycle of ups and downs, or the ebb and flow of our lives.
We had a guest staying with us this weekend. She is another “long-term” or “lifetime” friend. I always look forward to spending time with her; she fills me with gratitude. Her friendship, like those I mentioned above, is affirming, understanding and loving.
Eugene Peterson says, “In this resurrection-created world, we find ourselves as allies and companions to friends, bound to one another not out of need or liking or usefulness but because there are common operations taking place among and within us. We are part of something larger and other than ourselves that we cannot adequately be part of by ourselves” (110).