I was reading a friend's blog the other day. He wrote on Martin Luther and friendship. It's worth reading if you have the time. I have always found it to be an interesting aspect of humanity that we naturally work to isolate ourselves. The first thing we do in the Garden when the Lord shows us our sin is to break fellowship with each other. Adam blames Eve, and with that, a rift is formed between these two, who at one point, lived together in perfect harmony.
Having lived overseas a couple different times, I have found that life can get quite lonely. Interestingly, when I first moved out of the US, social media was starting to take off. It seemed like a great way to stay connected to friends. Yet as time has gone on what I have found is that instead of bringing people together, more often than not social media pushes us apart. It allows us to connect to another person's perfectly curated version of their life. This version of 'friendship' makes it difficult to truly come alongside one another and bear each others burdens. Social media in many ways has let our natural sinful tendency toward isolation grab hold even more while at the same time calling it 'friendship'. The result is that we don't truly have friends anymore.
Francis Bacon in an essay about friendship said that people who don't have friend to whom they can unburden themselves become 'cannibals of their own hearts'. Bacon went on to say that the unburdening of our hearts to our friends "redoubleth joys and cutteth griefs in halves." We need friends. We need people in our lives to with whom we can walk and talk.
The irony in all of this is that in reality we can only have a few close friends. That is to say we can only have a few people with whom we are completely open and honest. The people with whom we fully share the highs and lows of life (I can probably count my truly close friends on one hand). Yet, at the same time we need to cultivate a culture of friendship in our lives. We may have those few friends already, but that doesn't mean the we close ourselves off from other people. We need to have open hearts and open homes to others. Friendship starts with hospitality. It starts with genuinely being interested in the lives of others. Though we may be able to say we have friends, many in our neighborhood or church can't say that.
Living overseas can be lonely, but life in general can be lonely. Living here in Scotland has been great in many respects, yet at the same time it is fascinating how there are those moments where there is a twinge of lost. It is great to have my best friend, Taryn, with me. We have grown closer together over these last few months. Yet, there are moments of sadness when you know that you have friends back home going through both joys and sorrows, knowing that you cannot wholly walk with them through life. In this sadness, however, is there is hope. The hope is that one day goodbyes (whether they be because of a move or more extremely because of a death) will be no more, one day the curse of sin that drives us to break relationships, one day all that is broken and this world will be healed and we will celebrate our redemption, our communion with the Triune God and with each other.