I don’t have a lot of close friends. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people that I love and with whom I interact, but close friends are few in number. As Chaim Potok put it in The Chosen, ‘two people who are true friends are like two bodies with one soul’. I was thinking about this yesterday while listening to an interview with Sen. Ben Sasse (you should listen to it if you haven’t already). Some of this is because I have moved around a lot and it is hard to sink roots deep when you don’t live anywhere for longer than five years. It is especially hard to have close friendships here in Scotland as there is the acknowledgement in the background that at some point, we are leaving. Scotland is a temporary stopping point for our family.
As I talk to other people I know, I am pretty convinced that my experience isn’t that different from those around me. A good friend is hard to find. It isn’t easy to walk with someone through the highs and lows of life, through the joy and the pain. It is difficult to have deep disagreements, but keep on loving that person. It is difficult to realize the person you became friends with is no longer the same person that you are friends with. That person has changed, and yet, you still stand with him/her.
Yet having friends, true friends, is vital. We can see this just in the way that little children play with each other. You can see it when a child is going into a school class for the first time. All it takes is one child befriending another to make school not that scary anymore. I remember my dad telling me that I would be friends with a new kid named Alec (his dad worked with my dad at the time). I didn’t know Alec and I didn’t want to be his friend. However, we quickly became good friends. So good in fact that one year we got in a fight on the bus to school. We both lost out on recess for an entire week, but we reconciled rather quickly and continued our friendship. Children know the importance of friendship. A good friend is hard to find. When we find one, we want to keep that person.
I don’t have a lot of close friends. I am trying different ways to stay connected with the couple that I do have. I don’t know if it will work. What I do know, is that we need friends just as much if not more than we did when we were children. We need someone to come alongside us when we feel alone and scared. We need someone to walk with us through the highs and sit with us in the lows. We need someone who will disagree with us, but remain committed to us in the midst of that disagreement. We need each other. A good friend is hard to find, but Chaim Potok reminds us that we should ‘choose a friend’ because while we have little control over many factors in life, we can choose our friends and that choice will shape us in unique ways.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. — Proverbs 17:17