I have always been very hesitant to call anyone my best friend. I have an extreme childlike sense of fairness and if I were to give anyone that title I thought it might hurt another friend or pick who I liked best. This is one reason why I didn’t have any of my friends as bridesmaids at my wedding for this reason. I just couldn’t pick. So I made the very unorthodox, infuriating to my Chinese mother-in-law, decision to have my brother and brother-in-law be my bridesmen and stand with their spouses. They were thrilled. “Beats being an usher.” My brother said.
As a Christian, my escape from the best friend dilemma was to pick Jesus. “No human could come close”, I said. I remember the moment when a summer camp speaker talked about Jesus being our best friend. I was 11 years old. The idea of a non human friend was very welcoming. People were scary. People hurt. People didn’t understand. I did have some very good friends but even with them, I kept a little wall around my heart and became known as the quiet, shy one of the group. Only my diary knew my deepest thoughts. I tried to make that my best friend for a while and called it “Harry” and then “Max”.
In high school and young adult years I began to learn that loving and being loved by people was worth the risk and some bricks from the wall fell down. I made deeper connections which remain to this day. As a good and wise friend, Jesus showed me that I was not created to be alone. He gave me the courage to speak what was on my mind and allow people in to my heart. There was one problem with these friends though. They moved and I moved. And as much as we worked to keep in touch it wasn’t the same afterwards. I remember being the only young adult at my church and seeing many friends come and go. When I first saw a girl, who would be my last friend there, I literally ran after her thinking that she was going to leave without saying “hi”. “I’m just going to the bathroom.” Awkward moment. I had opened my heart up enough that now I was desperate. We ended up becoming good friends and going to each other’s weddings. Alas, we now live in different cities and haven’t connected for a while. While some friends go, others return and it is always such a wonderful surprise to meet up again and rebuild those connections. When I went through mental health crisis I found my true friends who stuck my side. One of them has a daughter the same age as mine and we are grooming them to be besties.
Wow, that was a long introduction to what I was planning on writing when I started this post. My husband Forest and I are reading “The Meaning of Marriage: A Couple’s Devotional” by Timothy and Kathy Keller.
And this was today’s reading:
It may sound scary and weird to say that Forest and I didn’t know each other very deeply before we got married. We had only known each other for two years and one of those years was long distance. I certainly didn’t call him my best friend compared to those I had known all my life. During our first year of marriage he was working overtime and I was more lonely after getting married then before.
When Elaina was born I consulted my friends and sister about parenting decisions more than I did with Forest. They had more experience and it was fine to get their advice but I didn’t ask Forest what he thought or give him any responsibility to learn. Until he was tasked with putting Elaina to bed. That changed everything.
Okay, being really honest, it wasn’t until recently that Forest and I became intentional about connecting on a regular basis. After our three hour conversations during long distance dating ended and we start doing life together, we took each other for granted. He got caught up with his career. Then I got caught up with our daughter and the house and we both have endless tasks. With the lack of emotional intimacy my heart started to wander and I began to wonder what it would be like if I wasn’t married to him. I started to feel attracted to other guys.
Sharing that with Forest one night was so scary. But it was in sharing and saying, “we need to connect every day, even if it is just for a couple of minutes,” that we went from being friends to best friends.
No one can replace Christ in my life. “I am Jesus’ princess above all else” is what I said at my wedding. When it comes to ultimately entrusting my life and well-being to someone, no human will do. In his great care though, my creator intended for me to have a human best friend too.
Many sources tell us that romance is about sex. While that is great, I am finding that the best thing in marriage is friendship and commitment for life. Neither of us are moving away. We have time to get to know each other. We value each other’s bodies and souls. Four years in, still a long way to grow. Learning how to be a metaphor of Divine love through lack of sleep and grumpiness, tantrums (not just our daughter), worries and fears. Learning how to be honest and kind and seek each other’s best. This morning I cried and yelled at Forest because I was so tired. Slammed the door and fled. He let me sleep and took Elaina to the park. Then at lunch it was his turn to be grumpy. The trenches are real. Thank God for a true bestie and good friends to surround us both.
I pray that whatever season you are in that you will know love both human and Divine.