Many years ago when I was a teen-ager, someone gave a copy of this poem to me imprinted on a lovely china plate. I have never forgotten it. It’s one of the simple and valuable truths in life.
One of the best gifts of my life are the two girlfriends I have had since I was 12 years old. We met in the small town where my father was pastoring. Kathy, was the friend I met at church. Becky, was in our class at school, i.e. the only 7th grade class in our town of 300. During the 2 1/2 years we lived there, we bonded together as adolescent girls would. We all lived within walking distance of each other which added extra opportunities for sleepovers, games, walks, bike riding, talking about boys, and hearing Paul McCartney’s “Let It Be” for the first time on a 45-rpm record in our 8th grade classroom. Our 9th grade year we all attended the large high school in the county which gave opportunities for new friends, opportunities and challenges as well.
Our family moved to a different state after I completed 9th grade. Through the years, I returned for an occasional visit to spend time in particular with Kathy & Becky and would visit other friends from the church where my father had pastored. The three of us also kept up with each other by sending birthday and Christmas cards. Now 51 years have passed! When we all turned 60 years of age in 2016, we met in Nashville, to attend a “Fab Four Beatles Tribute Concert.” It was wonderful to reconnect again in this way! Laughing over our silly school girlish ways and reminiscing over our lives having married, raised families and become grandmothers was one of the deepest joys of our deep rooted friendship. There have been tears along the way as we’ve listened, shared, and carried stories and events of suffering for each other. They are both like diamonds to me as friends, truly “precious and rare”. I cannot imagine having lived these many years without their presence in my life.
Friendship is a gift given by God to all of us if we are willing to make steps toward it. To have good and dear friends, we first need to be a good friend. This means as we develop the friendship, we are offering trust to the friend and expecting to receive trust in return. We have all learned that in our journey of Christian spiritual transformation and healthy psychological development, TRUST is the first capacity that is important for us to develop from our first days of being born into this world.
Developing a relationship of friendship means that we are willing to LISTEN to the “voice and heart” of the other person. It’s important for each within the dialogue to have an opportunity to truly “be heard,” and not to view the conversation as a place to fix the issue unless it has been requested.
Offering validation of the gifts that God has given to our friends is a way of giving AFFIRMATION to them and letting them know how much we appreciate and value who God has created them to be. Sometimes our friends see abilities, gifts and challenges in us that we haven’t seen for ourselves yet. When we can show up to mutually embrace each other with our vulnerabilities, this is an opportunity for us to speak wth love, truth and grace through the presence of Christ in us through the Holy Spirit.
As we have heard many times from Crosspoint Ministry, “The greatest gift we have is our transformed and transforming presence.” PRESENCE is definitely a piece of the puzzle in developing and keeping friendships. For example: If my mind is constantly somewhere else when a friend is trying to have a connection with me through conversation, or if my body language shows that I’m really not interested in hearing my friend’s heart, this is not “really” being present. Being present means we are paying attention to the person who is right in front of us, with eye to eye contact, and not the 10 texts that come to us while we are trying to intentionally be present. I realize certain scenarios call for immediate attention to some texts and or calls. The age old question of “To Be or Not To Be?“ seems to have become: “To Be Present or To Text?”. Yet, sometimes in today’s world, being present IS being present to the “text world” because of long distances between friends, timing in a situation, emergencies, etc. “Balance” is the concept that we all must exercise in our lives in so many areas including being present to our friends face to face and being present with them on social media in healthy ways.
LOYALTY is another facet of the “diamond friendship.” To offer support to a good friend is definitely a gift to be given to each other mutually. Loyalty does not mean that we never ask difficult questions. It means that we love our friends enough to speak into their lives with truth and honesty and expect the same from them .
Last, but not least, the intentional action of FORGIVENESS will always be necessary in “diamond” friendships. Even if the relationship is not reconciled, our heart’s desire and expectation is that the Holy Spirit will work in the hearts of the friends, spouses, co-workers, children, and in our own hearts to be able to forgive and or to be forgiven, which ever the case may be. We can still love and forgive someone even if a friendship has to “part ways.”
Trust, Listening, Affirmation, Presence , Loyalty, and Forgiveness are all necessary to have “precious and rare diamond” relationships with our friends, family members, co-workers, and all whom God brings into our lives on a regular basis.
Matthew 22:37 is the Scripture where Jesus commands us to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” In verse 39, He says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (NLT)
Jesus is inviting us to be “the best cut diamond” friend by loving Him with all of our heart, soul and mind. He already loves us that way completely. He extends trust, a listening heart, presence, affirmation, loyalty and forgiveness to each of us as His beloved children.
How wonderful that He next invites us to love ourselves and our “friends and neighbors” as ourselves.
Trusting Christ with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to help us “BE THE DIAMOND FRIEND” helps us show the gift of love and trust toward God, toward others, and toward ourselves, not with perfection but with humility, truth, grace and mercy.