Friendship is an underappreciated miracle.
Most human beings enter the world with a predisposition to dislike all other human beings. A lot of us had to be taught to be nice. When we were little, we were told to share, not to push, not to fight, not to call each other names. As we grew up, we had to learn not to be judgmental, not to gossip, not to talk about other people with veiled references to their faults and shortcomings. People don’t like people. Most liberals and conservatives have operated under mutual hatred for years. Southerners and Northerners still rib each other (rather cruelly) even though that particular war has been over for a long time now. Women and men have been at odds since the dawn of time—ask any embittered spinster and she’ll wax eloquent on the subject for hours. Rare is the individual who can hold love in their heart for absolutely everyone. Most of us had to be taught by experience and the grace of God that all people are flawed, and one flawed person is no different from another flawed person, and that everyone needs to be loved—whether or not we think they deserve that love.
With this in mind, it is a miracle that something like friendship exists.
Friendship is the fellowship of two or more people who are, more often than not, completely different from each other. If you ask a pair of friends where their friendship began, it’s unlikely that they’ll be able to pinpoint the moment or the hour or even the day that it began. Chances are they’ve been friends since childhood, when counting days and moments didn’t matter as much. They’ve grown up accepting each other’s quirks and supporting each other through the growing pains of life. They never signed a contract or held a ceremony—and chances are they’ve never made any promises. They’ve just been friends. No one can really identify the glue that holds them together. They could be as opposite as night and day, but they still manage to get along famously. That’s why friendship is so incredibly miraculous.
Take my best friend, for instance. She is as “not me” as “not me” gets. We still can’t figure out how we’re friends, other than to say that we’ve been friends for so long we just can’t imagine life any other way. We both like good books, good music, and good food (although convincing her to take five minutes out of her very busy schedule and eat something is a continual battle)—but that’s about it. I like sandals and she won’t wear anything but high heels. She’s driven and I’m laid back. She likes the beach and I like the mountains. She dresses like a lawyer; I dress like a hippie. She’s organized and I’m a clutter bug. She’s analytical and I’m about as logical as a two-year-old’s finger-paint replica of a Picasso painting. With all of these differences, you’d think we’d hate each other. But, by some miracle, we’re friends. There’s a love, a mutual acceptance of each other’s oddness, that has endured for many, many years. This is a riddle we’ve spent the past fourteen years trying to puzzle out.
It makes me think of all the other friendships (some of them fictional, but hey) that we remember as being sacrificial and all-enduring. David and Jonathan. Elijah and Elisha. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Rogers and Hammerstein. Gertrude Stein and Ernest Hemingway. Sam and Frodo. Inigo and Fezzik. How these friendships began, or how they could possibly endure, is a complete mystery. But they did. And we remember them because watching these friendships in action helped change the way we see the world.
Never underestimate the power of a friendship. Friends are a gift from God. He didn’t make us to walk entirely alone. He puts people in our path—or attaches them as beautiful, permanent fixtures in our lives—for a reason. This is a miracle that is best left unquestioned. All we can do is embrace it.