Jesus called his disciples his friends.
I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. Perhaps you read my post this morning
. It's my theme today.
Since Lisa and I left the church two years ago we've experienced times of severe loneliness. We lost a bunch of friends all at once. It wasn't our intention for it to go that way, but it did. We also lost the culture of fellowship that provided a network of friendships that could be renewed and renegotiated every week. That wasn't our intention either, but that's what happened. Although there was a lots of positives about our experience of friendship in the church, it surprisingly came to an abrupt end. Partly my fault because I'm the one who left.
But I've learned some new things about friendship.
Lisa is a full-time student getting her nursing degree and has met a whole new set of people and made new friends of excellent quality. I've become a teacher of English as a second language to Pre-MBA students. I too have made new friends, each one of them special, unique and valuable to me in different ways.
Lisa and I have been our best companions. I'd be lost without her. But we are also so thankful for our friends. They've come bearing gifts of love, acceptance and joy. They appreciate who we are just as we are.
I'll tell a few of the things that make these new friends beautiful:
- They really do love me. Although from my experience I have a suspicion that you can never know for sure, their love for me feels unconditional. They don't seem to have some kind of theological or ecclesiological mental matrix that I have to fit into or face rejection. I am more myself than I have ever been because I feel the many restrictions departing. I actually experiment with being truly me. And they love me just the same, if not more.
- They don't care about my past. Even though they are interested in my story, they don't hold it against me because they realize, just like with them, that I am not my history. They don't use it to judge me or to predict me. They see David before them and embrace him just as he is. It's so refreshing to just be accepted and loved for who I am right now without the stickiness of religious hopes and expectations.
- They help me be carefree. Although I still have a few friends from the past that I treasure, most of them have also left the church. Along with my new friends, my friends now are so much more carefree. Fun is valued. Happiness is sought. Frivolity is encouraged and appreciated. We have some pretty serious talks, but they aren't laden with propriety. It is nice just have lighthearted fun and to be so carefree.
Jesus loved his friends. I'm sure this is what he meant.