The deepest thirst in my soul is for relationship. To know and be known. I love to uncover the truth and beauty and perplexing contradiction in others and to see the same in myself. This pastime has kept me up deep into the night, kept me standing out in the cold and the rain, brought my heart past the edge of what I thought I could bear. Messy, strange, profound, disturbing, enthralling, passionate, inspiring, thrilling, devastating, aching, breathless, relationships. A spectrum of emotion both good and bad, a dozen lifetimes of love and living across the table from a friend. This is the color in my world, and nothing else is so satisfying.
Has anyone ever asked you what you would do if money, time, age, situation, education were no obstacle? This question is supposed to get at the heart of your interests or passions and give you direction for your life. I have a fantastically useless answer: I would be a professional friend. I don’t even know what that means, but I think I would hang out and get coffee a lot. Which is good because I love coffee, and all manner of social beverages one might consume in a hanging-out context.
I think it means I would show up to hospital rooms, weddings, funerals, and baby showers. I would send money and keep the linens in the guest room clean. I would drive and fly across the country or the world to share a table for a weekend. I would buy just the right gift that recalls that unforgettable night we shared. I would take calls at the most unreasonable hours, hike up hills, make long commutes, rent the duplex with no central heat and AC all for the pleasure of one relationship or another.
And these are not hypotheically potentialities! I’ve done all of this and so much more! And you know what? I bet you’ve done a lot of these things, too. How can I guess that? Well, because you are probably a woman. And we do things like this on the regular. I’m not a wife or mother (yet) so I can’t say anything about diapers and school programs and t-ball games. The things we do for those people we love!
It’s crazy really, but this is my favorite thing about being a woman–that throbbing desire to love and be loved that drives us into the arms or cars or beach houses for the weekend of those we just can’t do another day without. I can’t really speak for a man’s experience–I know they can have deep friendships, too, but I don’t often see the demonstrative love for those outside of their family that is so fundamental for women.
I may have a different answer once I marry and have children, but the friendship thing has been everything in my life so far. It’s the cog that makes all the other wheels turn, and I would be an empty shell of a person without it. We lift up marriage and family so highly in our culture, and I suppose it is right to! But Jesus does give some heavently persective when he says in John 15:13:
Greater love has no one than this, Than to lay down one’s own life for his friends.
The long-term single road is hard, but an amazing gift has been mine all along the way– the pleasure to love and be loved by my friends. And I don’t think I would trade it! We have such a God-given gift in each other. Let us never waste it!
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Joni Butler has called the ‘Ham home since 2012. Officially, she’s here for employment but has found a home here at Breath. Though an avid diarist for years, this is her first writing gig. Jesus is her best friend and she loves pursuing Him passionately. You can read more about Joni in her Breath Bio.