Deep Friendship


So, Friday night I watched an old movie (1998) called Simon Birch, loosely based on the novel, A Prayer for Owen Meany. It’s set in 1964 and it’s about a friendship between Joe, the illegitimate son of a single mom in a small town and Simon, a boy who’s unloved and whose stunted growth leaves him child-size at age twelve. Though challenged and unwanted, Simon has the audacity to believe that God designed him for a purpose and has a plan for his life. Joe believes this, too, even when Simon accidentally causes his mother’s death. Simon’s story is still working on me.

I know what it’s like to grow up in a small town in 1964. I know what it’s like to feel different, alone and challenged. I also know what it’s like to have a solitary faith that God sees you and has a plan for you even when most others think that’s a grasping, arrogant fantasy.

For me, Simon represents all of us because before we know the work of Christ in our lives, we are all stunted in our growth, none of us reaches the heights we were designed to reach and we are all unloved, rejected and alone. When we do encounter Jesus, it is the audacious, fantastic truth we learn that He did, indeed, create us with a purpose and He most certainly has a plan for our broken, lonely lives.

The bond between the two boys is fiercely loyal. They’ve crossed boundaries of prejudice and fear to forge a love that becomes an island of hope for them in a sea of despair. We all sail that sea these days. We all need the buoy of friendship to survive these times.

In Simon Birch’s fictitious world, the church was a crippling, stifling source of rejection but I have found God’s church to be the place of friendship and refuge I have needed all along the way. It is within the body of Christ that I have found friendships that crossed color-lines, economic differences, gender barriers and generation gaps. Here I have found friendships that have survived distance, disappointments, distresses and disagreements. The church is certainly not perfect but neither am I, which is why I fit in so well.

If I were to only have surface relationships, I could probably keep up the façade that I’m not as broken as I am. The friendships I form within the church, however, have a tendency to get deep and then I am exposed for the fraud that I am. But that’s all right. My friends are frauds, too. Our only hope is Jesus and His work in our lives. Through these friendships, we reinforce that work and we believe in each other that we were each created for a purpose and that God does have a plan for our lives.

Break a boundary this week. Make friends with someone who is different. Go deeper with a friendship. Let someone see the broken you, the illegitimate you, the unwanted, misunderstood you. But during this week, when we remember Jesus ‘great sacrifice, have the audacity to know that He designed you for a purpose, that He has a plan for your life. Show up at the imperfect church. You’ll fit right in.

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6 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Mary Moss says:

    You know, Lori, this is a very timely post for me to read. (Go figure:-) I have been somewhat disgruntled with my congregational church family. I won’t go into detail, but it is mainly about priorities and vision, etc. Not unimportant things! I don’t know if it’s the weather or the ‘season of my life’ but I went begrudgingly to church this morning and I am so glad I did!

    You are so right, we all do fit in to an imperfect church. Isn’t it a blessing!?

  2. I’ve had my share of hurts in the church, too, Mary (and I’m sure I’ve caused some). I’ve been tempted to become a Lone Ranger Christian but then I’m afraid I’d lose touch with my own sinfulness. Often, what rankles me most in another believer is the same character flaw God is trying to work out in me. Staying in deep relationship with other believers is an act of faith – trusting that God’s plan is for us to bungle around and bruise each other and that it will all work together for good!

  3. Sarah says:

    Thanks for the encouragement. I think that I would feel entirely lost without a church body. It is so important as believers to stay in fellowship with others. If you are out of that fellowship you really lose perspective on what it’s all about. And while God does have a plan for all of us on an individual level. He also looks at us as a people, ‘his people’ a people with whom he has established the new covenant. I think that when we come together as Gods people it helps us as individuals see how we are to fit into his great eternal plans. By the way-it’s great to be in touch again. I miss you.

  4. Joe Crowley says:

    This is definitely Church Bulletin Insert material! People do read those things, right? Having moved so much as a kid because of Corporate America, I don’t have a Home Coming or Class Reunion that means anything, but God has replaced them in the form of the EMF Thanks Giving, Good Friday, and Summer Picnic collective Church Services, and such things. I’d be fine with those things lasting for a week so as to get caught up with everyone.

    Now, as far as developing a relationship with someone very different from me, I don’t know if I could handle that, hee, hee. If I missed out on that one, I’d have missed out on the most awesome person in my life. Even with all the differences, she knows I’m broken. In a very loving way, (usually), she tries to fix me. Then when it doesn’t take, she loves me anyway!

    Your history is very similar to CC’s in many, many ways.

    God Bless,
    Keep up the good work!
    Joe

  5. Petra says:

    Thanks for the wonderful post, Lori. I remember that movie – so touching and deep. Of course I couldn’t help but cry and it left a very deep impression on me. Thanks for sharing with us, your honesty. It’s precious! Bless you, dear sister!

  6. Petra, how amazing to connect with you over the miles. My husband is thrilled that a Dutch woman is reading my blog and I’m thrilled you’re reading it from Israel. I love your blogs, too!
    God bless.

    Joe, I was thinking of you and CeCe and your marriage made in heaven when I was working on that post. So cool! Rob and I are happy to be getting to know the two of you (slowly in the busy-ness of our lives!

    It’s wonderful how God’s “church” finds each other across miles and mishaps and many differences. May He receive all the glory.