My earliest childhood memory is one from kindergarten. It was a half-day morning class, and every day we would come in and need to remove our chair from the top of the table. One evening after school, I fractured my wrist. It was only the first week of school and my 5-year-old mind was having high anxiety about how I was going to do what was expected of me at school. To this point I hadn’t made friends with anyone. I didn’t know how to make friends or what to look for in a friend. I worried about what the other kids would think of me having to wear a brace on my hand. And to top it off, it was my right hand and I am right-hand dominant. How was I supposed to play on recess? How was I going to learn to write? How was I going to take my chair down every morning?! The panic ensued and I dreaded going to school the next day. I remember walking in, the teacher helped me hang my bookbag up, and I headed toward my seat. Before I got there, the little girl assigned to the seat next to mine grabbed my chair and got it down for me. She said “I knowed you need help. I’ll get you chair down every day.” (True kindergarten verbiage.) That was the beginning of an amazing friendship that lasted through elementary and most of junior high. I moved in junior high and we eventually lost contact with one another, but then reconnected through social media later on.
In recent years, I struggled again with friendships. It was a different struggle, though. This time I questioned how to be a good friend. Because of broken trust in a friendship that led to tragedy in my life, I wondered if I was a bad judge of character. What did I look for in friendships? Did I know enough about myself to know why someone would want to be friends with me? It took a lot of time and prayer, but Jesus became my best friend and revealed the qualities and giftings He created me with. I gained my identity. I was capable of being a good friend and I was capable of having good friends.
As a child, I knew myself better than I had as an adult. I gravitated to friends who served others and loved well, just like my very first friendship formed in kindergarten had started with someone who chose to serve someone she didn’t know yet. Now as an adult, I have many wonderful friends I met through serving. God designed us to have friendships and to do life with others. Choose Jesus as your best friend and you will find yourself surrounded by genuine friends. Be kind to your neighbors. Not only is it a commandment, but you never know what that relationship could mean to you later.
And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one's neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.