Old Friends and a Pair of Pee Pants

When was the last time you pulled over for a full stop to catch your breath?

In the old days of telegraphs, a “stop” denoted the period at the end of a sentence, a place to halt, and gather breath. When a train comes to a full stop, it allows passengers the opportunity to stand and stretch, de-board to walk and to catch the view. Travelers take stock of how long they’ve journeyed and how much further they have to go.

When was your last full stop?

In the gospels, Jesus spent time with His Father daily before facing the crowds. Sometimes He spent all night after doing the same. At other times, He pulled away with just His posse, His crew, His closest followers, and still other times, He withdrew even more with just Peter, James, and John.

Jesus, in His humanity, sought and cultivated friendships.

God designed us to live in community, to seek relationships, to thrive within them. Vital, even when that community is populated with broken, faulted saints who were only granted that title through grace.

Recently, I’ve pulled aside for some full stop weekends.

I love a bunch of messy people and they love me back, despite ourselves. Too often, I take them for granted and I hope they do the same to me because they know they can. Our friendships are a given after all these years and sometimes they have to endure long times without rich contact – similar to when a spacecraft orbits the moon and there is a necessary break in communication with Houston.

Maybe we’re orbiting a new job, a move, a change in family structure, an illness, or depression. Other times we’re navigating strains on the friendships themselves brought about by conflict, life transitions, or just malaise.

My friends alternately delight and irritate me. We’ve known one another too long not to know one another’s foibles, bad habits, and weaknesses. We’ve witnessed each other’s strengths, triumphs, and achievements and ground one another with anchored friendships that don’t become overly dismayed by failure nor overly impressed by success.

Friends make good mirrors.

I stepped off a plane this weekend, having dumped an iced tea into my lap just prior to take off, and prayed that miraculously the brown tea would somehow dry white on the white fabric. I explained what happened to my waiting friend who took one look and remarked, “Yeah, those have to go. It definitely looks like pee.”

Ahh, the refreshing frankness of old friends.

Arriving at the event, another friend embraced me informing me I had green stuck in my teeth. Another remarked, “Wow, you look like you went through the ringer. This humidity is no friend to your hair, is it?”

I laughed because all of this was the pure joy of being with people who have become kin. We share a freedom of relationship because we’ve traveled together for many miles. We gathered to celebrate. A daughter’s wedding. Joy. Passages. Every tease was a way of saying, “I know you and I love you. There’s freedom in our friendship.”

During the meal, a new acquaintance asked about my tagline, “Disturber of Hobbits.” Before I could open my mouth, my friends excitedly explained its significance, what it says about my writing, and how it connects with my upcoming book. I was caught off guard, choked up even, at their enthusiasm for my work and the energy they invested in explaining me. It’s a moment I’ll treasure. While they were talking, I believed anew in the vision for my work.

We’ve all hurt one another through the years. Mostly small hurts but some of significance. Jesus led us through the hurts to forgiveness and I learned that each of these friendships is a microcosm of His hope for the church. We love, we hurt, we forgive, we love again. We become family.

For me now, each gathering is a foreshadowing of the day I’ll sit with these friends around God’s great banquet table. We’ll catch one another’s glances and smile at the wonder of arriving, finally, safely, home.

Peter, James, and John knew Jesus as He walked along the dusty roads pressed in by demanding crowds and weary from a day of healing and preaching. He’d seen them cranky. He knew they argued about who was greatest. He witnessed all the times they got it wrong. But, they were also witness to His glory at the transfiguration. He watched Peter get out of the boat and step toward Him on the seas. He knew the poetry in John’s soul.

Our friends are there to know us, love us, support us, challenge us, and to celebrate with us. They are there to tell us we look like we’ve wet our pants and they’re there to remind us there is more to us than our shortcomings. When we gather with friends, we sense the ancient echo of our former glory in the garden and we catch a whiff of the feast prepared for us by our Father in Heaven.

On the night He was betrayed, knowing what was about to come, Jesus looked at the broken, faulted, clueless followers gathered ‘round Him and said, “No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” John 15:15 Jesus loved with the vision of that banquet table in His eyes.

When was the last time you pulled over for a full stop to catch your breath?

Do it now. Call a friend. Even if it’s been years, make the call.

Catch the breeze flowing through the door of Heaven propped open when Jesus gave His life for us, His friends. Enjoy a foretaste of the feast prepared for us to share with Him and with our friends who have all become kin, the family of God, in that place where we’ll raise our glasses forevermore.

And if you’ve yet to become a friend of Jesus Christ, what are you waiting for? Come to the table. You’re invited to feast there forever! Not sure how to take this step? Send me a note and I’ll  reach out.

Already friends with Jesus? When was the last time you took a full stop to be with Him? Why not do it right now?


Get in on the conversation

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Arlene May says:

    I will preface my comment by saying I fully agree with what you have written and would never minimize the importance of what you are saying. You have painted a beautiful picture of love and friendship but not everyone has the opportunity to experience what is obviously a very important part of your walk. There are some who have no old friends to call. Life’s circumstances intervened and relationships, which may have had an infancy, died and cannot be revived. In hindsight, it would have been well worth the effort to keep a spark alive but the time has passed; the opportunity has been lost amid all the complications of life that seemed so important at the time. Sometimes it’s a matter of circumstances meeting a personality that settles quickly into the easier path of solitary living. Sometimes new aquaintences are simply not interested or don’t have the energy to put the time into cultivating a new friendship beyond those they are already trying to maintain. It would be to much amid the busyness of family, jobs, and sundry obligations. There is no one doing anything wrong. It would be not be fair or right to attribute blame. I wonder, though, how many are feeling lonely, isolated, and deprived of friendship who are sitting in church every Sunday? Is there a presumption that those who worship with us on Sunday go home to a circle of their own friends for the rest of the week? Which friends? Friends they can fellowship with? I find it easy to settle into a life by myself occupied with all the goings on of a grown family and grandchildren but with no friendships beyond. It isn’t desirable and it would be wonderful to have close friends but after so long I have learned, for the most part, to be content. I wonder how many others are quietly living their lives like I do? I suspect it is many more than most would imagine.

    • I suspect that is true, too, Arlene. Many of the friends with whom I connected in the piece now live miles from me and even the ones who live nearby are busy (as am I) so have rare times of connecting. I haven’t always appreciated the value of friendship, of camaraderie, of fellowship with others but more and more I see the power of investing in others and living out all the “one another” passages of God’s word. Now that I’m in my fifties, when I come into a new situation, I am less reserved about approaching someone to say “I’m looking for a friend, are you open to that?” I believe there are others sitting around you seeking companionship waiting for someone to initiate. Maybe it could be you?

  2. Maxine D says:

    I fully know what Arlene is saying – sometimes it is so hard to reach out when one partner is unwell and their demands/needs limit the time one can spend with friends. Thankfully I have some who periodically ‘kidnap’ me for time out ;-).
    Blessings
    Maxine