Friends are my favorite. Really. I’ve written about friendship several times before. My favorite TV show is Friends, I’m currently reading a book about the show “Friends” (I’ll Be There For You: The One About Friends), my most-loved childhood cartoon is The Fox and the Hound, and nothing fills my oversized coffee mug like time with friends.
I’m in a season of life in which I no longer take time with friends for granted. I seek it out like water in the desert and treasure it when found. When offered the opportunity to read and review Becoming Gertrude: How Our Friendships Shape Our Faith, I jumped at the chance. The subtitle spoke to a seeking part of my soul. But I was initially disappointed, feeling like this little book misrepresented itself. I got all the way to the end, closed the cover and thought, “That book wasn’t about friendship at all! It’s about service! Oh.”
The author, Janice Peterson, teaches that “you can’t separate caring from service in spiritual friendship”. It takes time and creativity to be a good friend, but so much growth comes from it. She says, in fact, that when this kind of hospitality is done well, “you experience something profound. Something like the Jewish word shalom – a sense of wholeness.” I was reminded that giving myself away doesn’t have to be a big thing – just an intentional one. And it requires slowing down. “Giving people space and a listening ear and heart are often rare in today’s world. And people are hungry for it, whether they’re aware of it or not.”
I confess I’ve been so concerned with what I’ve missed receiving from time with friends that I haven’t really thought about what I’m not giving. Selfishness works that way, I guess. When I opened my eyes to those around me I found someone dealing with chronic pain who is weary. But after spending some time with her, I learned she is also a hoot! And I saw a church member with no one to drive her home from major surgery and discovered a strong and faithful warrior who encourages me to be better. When I volunteered to help some friends with a big project – well, I just helped. Not every act of faithfulness gives immediate warm fuzzies. But…
Maybe…just maybe… friendship and service share a lot in common after all.
(All links in this post are affiliate links. Please see my Policies page for more information on affiliate links.)