Xela seems to be a smelting fire for life and friendships. During the year I’ve been in Xela, God has been forging me into the man he first designed, minus my imperfections, by helping me make new friendships and strengthening old ones. Yet, I know God isn’t done casting me into the mold he has designed for me. I’ve been learning with friendships, even the deep ones, where you care about the person immensely, it is still hard and risky. I believe that a true friendship can and will outlast the hard times.
I’ve got a cool example. Over the last year God healed a friendship that had fallen off the deep end while I was in college. Redeeming the friendship took work on both our parts. Metal can’t be forged into the artist’s desired shape without the artist spending time heating the metal, pouring the metal, and letting the metal cool. Friendships also require a process of time, effort, and patience. Through that process the friendship was reformed and in turn I was changed. Now I feel like God is forging me anew by the use of friendships and the work they take.
Work. A word that needs underlining when it comes to friendship. Every morning at work I focus on my job just like the artist or metalworker focuses on the metal. Now I can put in a ton of effort to make sure my students enjoy PE or creative writing, but if they don’t match my effort the class struggles. Like when I tried to teach Volleyball to the elementary kids. They didn’t want to play because the ball hurt their hands. They didn’t cooperate at all, which made their thirty minutes of PE a bore. Friendships are the same. If both people in the friendship don’t put forth the same effort, the friendship will be strained. Friendships require a give and take. If you don’t give a little to your friend and don’t receive in return, it’s not a friendship.
I’m not the only one that thinks this. I asked a few of my students what they thought it meant to be a friend and here is what a few of them said:
“To me it means a relationship with a person that doesn’t involve love (eros). You trust them deeply, talk about anything, and you have many things in common that you practically talk about anything.”
“Friendship means to me loyalty and being nice friends. Hanging out. Having to go to places. But the most important part is caring for each other. Friends should be there for each other in good situations and bad situations.”
“Friends care for you and they help you. We have fun together, sometimes we bother each other. Friends are one of the best things you have in the world.”
“Friendship means to be there when a friend needs help or comfort.”
“Friends like you for who you are.”
“Always be there fore each other.”
“Friendship means to always be there for each other to talk about stupid things.”
“They are something very special to me because without friends we would be lonely. Friends are like your treasure box because you’ll find things that you have in common or difference, you could also tell them secrets and they’ll never say anything. Friends are cool, and they are always there for you whenever you need them or whenever you don’t.”
My students seem to know that friendships take being there for each other. I believe that when you care about someone and they care about you, you will meet each other half way. The only problem is this hardly happens with human friendships. As a friend, I can be selfish and when times get hard, even I can back out on the people I call friends. We humans don’t try to meet each other half way. If friends are truly our treasures, then often we are fools gold. We guard our selves so we don’t get hurt.
That is why the only true friend is Christ. He knew we couldn’t meet him half way and so he went the entire way. He loved us despite our shortcomings. That’s a true friendship. But, I believe what God is forging in me is the desire to be Christ-like with my friends. Even if a friend doesn’t meet me half way, I feel like he is calling me to take that extra step. This is difficult, but if Christ could go to the cross after all the junk we humans did to him, then maybe I can make this one small step. Love with a Christ-like love.