One friend is “old,” not in age, but in duration–we’ve been friends for over two decades. (Although the longer we are friends, the more both meanings of the word “old” apply!) We lived in the same town for a little over two years. Our mutual love for the Lord is the glue that holds us together despite time and distance.
The second friend is “new.” We’ve known each other for about two years. She lives nearby, and is a couple decades younger. We also share a special bond in the Lord, which makes the age difference seem irrelevant.
And I need them both.
“Old” friends ground us. When I’m with them I look back. I remember who I was, who I still am. We’re a part of each other’s history. We know each other’s stories. Conversation flows effortlessly, punctuated with laughter. (Or “cackling,” as this particular friend’s husband unwisely called it.)
“New” friends inspire us. When I’m with them I look forward. I see who I can be. We’re a part of each other’s present lives. We know each other’s struggles. Conversation runs deep, peppered with “aha” moments.
“A friend loveth at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17, KJV)
Tiny, forest green ‘x’s spell out this verse in a cross stitch which hangs in my hallway. It was lovingly created for me by another “old” friend. It serves as a reminder of those special friends “who have been long tried and proved, and found faithful,” and that “…these should be kept to and valued…” (John Gill)
Reflecting on the benefits of newer friendships, this verse comes to mind:
“Better is a neighbor who is near than a brother far away.” (Proverbs 27:10b, NAS)
Because sometimes you just need to sit face to face with someone who can be “Jesus with skin on.” Someone who will listen as you pour out your soul over a cup of coffee (or, in my case, tea). Someone you can text at 3:30am to share one of those “aha” moments. (Yes, she did.) Because “…a neighbour that is a fast and faithful friend, and who is not only near as to place but as to affections is more serviceable and, useful to a man in time of distress…” (Gill)
So we need them both.
Old friends, who fit us like a pair of well-worn jeans; familiar and comfortable.
New friends, who lift our spirits like a cute, new outfit; fresh and promising.
Both are gracious gifts from God, given to remind us that:
“…there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24b, NAS)
For don’t we need His friendship most of all?
In Him we find the best of both friends; perfect and timeless.
Lord, thank You for friends near and far, old and new. You give such good gifts. Thank You for being “(The) Friend who sticks closer than a brother (or a sister!).” YOU are the very best gift!
(Quotes are taken from Gill’s Exposition of The Entire Bible.)