One of the fun things about blogging is that it generates comments from friends. (Let’s face it, when you are a new blogger, most of your readers are existing friends!) The majority of comments I’ve received have been through Facebook and email—not “official” comments seen on my blog page. I have savored every word, not just because it’s nice to get feedback on my writing, but because each comment represents a connection with someone special. I know there is validity in what they are saying, because we share familiarity beyond the pages of my blog. This is particularly true for those who fall into an elite category I call “heart friends.”
Heart friends are the rarest and most precious of comrades. Their friendships transcend distance and life-changes. They are the buddies you can go for years without seeing, and then step right back into a deep connection as if you had never been apart. I was blessed with my very first heart friend, Sandy, in fourth grade. Our friendship has spanned the decades from prancing around like horses at recess, to scouring the mall to find the perfect Gunne Sax prom dresses, to swapping stories about being middle-aged!
I have been extremely blessed to discover additional heart friends along several stops in my life’s journey. All have brought their unique personalities and life experiences to the table. However, I’ve also noticed that there are common characteristics in all of my heart friendships:
- We embrace similar core values and beliefs.
- We trust each other implicitly.
- We talk easily and share deeply.
- We laugh with (and sometimes at) each other.
- We keep confidential things confidential.
- We can “be ourselves” when we’re together, imperfections and all.
- We can count on each other for help, day or night.
- We pray for one another.
- We enjoy just “hanging out” together.
- We are each other’s cheerleaders and encouragers.
- We aren’t afraid to lovingly speak the truth, even when it’s hard to hear.
- We hold one another accountable.
- We extend grace and forgiveness to one another.
- We challenge each other to grow.
- We feel each other’s pain and celebrate each other’s successes.
Heart friends aren’t born overnight. When I think of how I met and cultivated my dearest friendships, it was always through shared experiences. The relationships gradually unfolded in the midst of attending school, participating in musical groups, being involved in church activities, or working together. Over time the connections transformed from acquaintances, to casual friends, to “forever friends.”
I believe everyone yearns for a heart friend. We were designed for emotional intimacy—to know and to be known. All of us need a “go-to” person whom we can count on, no matter what. Our hearts long for someone who thoroughly knows us and yet completely loves us.
Yet there can be times in our lives when the landscape feels void of intimate friends. I have experienced those desert times when I know many “nice” people, but a heart friend just hasn’t emerged. If you can relate, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and look for ways to connect with people who share common interests and values. Most of all, I pray that you will seek a deeper relationship with the greatest heart friend of all, Jesus. He is intimately acquainted with all your ways (Psalm 139:3) and loves you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). Best of all, he’s available right this moment and promises to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
God is indeed the best friend of all, yet he also designed us to need earthly companions. My pal Sandy sent me a little plaque years ago with a quote that captures the magical moment when a heart-friendship is ignited:
“What made us friends in the long ago when first we met? Well, I think you know; The best in me and the best in you hailed each other because they knew that always and always since life began our being friends was part of God’s plan.” – George Webster Douglas
To my long-time friends reading this, I treasure you. To my newer friends (and readers), I’m looking forward to knowing you better. As I close this post, I’m humming a little song I learned in Girl Scouts years ago, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”
“A friend loves at all times . . .” Proverbs 17:17 (NIV)
“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 (NLT)
“. . . there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” Proverbs 18:24 (NIV)
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 (NIV)
What a Friend We Have in Jesus
– Joseph M. Scriven, 1855
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry Everything to God in prayer!
Oh, what peace we often forfeit,
Oh, what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry Everything to God in prayer!
Have we trials and temptations?
Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged— Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful,
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.