Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Faithful Are the Wounds of a Friend

Beach, Warren Dunes State Park (Michigan)

Last night, as Linda and I were in our family room talking, she said something that made me laugh. No one can make me laugh like she does. To be honest, few people make me laugh. It is my Finnish, Scandinavian badge of honor that says, "you are not funny."

I laughed so long and so intensely that I had to leave the room. I could barely breathe. Linda was laughing, too. If laughter is good for the soul, then it is well with our souls today.

She is my best friend in life. My companion. Next to God, it is her. I can laugh with her. I am safe with her, and she with me. I can cry with her. We can tell truth to one another. We can say good things and beautiful things and hard things, to each other. She is my friend, and I, hers. We can wound each other, in love. That's what friends are for.

Eugene Peterson writes,

"To be a friend of God does not mean everything is cozy between you and the Almighty. To be a friend to someone does not mean you pamper or indulge him or her. Friendship also involves struggle and loss, tension and turbulence. One of my favorite proverbs is “Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Proverbs 27:6). A friend, if honest and true, will tell you things you don’t want to hear. A friend, if deeply serious about you, will do things that feel painful. Friends do that because they respect our dignity and honor our uniqueness." (Eugene Peterson, As Kingfishers Catch Fire: A Conversation on the Ways of God Formed by the Words of God, pp. 17-18)

Friends speak the truth in love. Not love, without truth. And not truth, without love, because that annihilates friendships. How much truth can a friendship sustain? A lot, if there is love. How much disagreement can a friend bear to hear? A lot, if love accompanies it.

Love bears all things. Even disagreements. Love does not fear disagreeing.

This is what allows Linda and I to enjoy one another and, like last night, laugh. If there is no pain, there will be no laughter.