Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Friendships of the Sturdy Variety

Judy Siburt is one of my all-time favorite people.  In a recent post, she made the following observation.  “A gift of a long, sturdy friendship is one of God's greatest blessings.”  I understand the concept of long-time friendship really well.  But the word “sturdy” caused me to pause.  I have used that word in reference to a woodworking project, but not as a descriptor of friendship.  But who am I to question a career educator regarding word choice!


“Sturdy.”  It is a good word to describe meaningful friendship.  A sturdy friendship remains intact after the storms of life rage on year after year. And a friendship that is sturdy will endure even in the aftermath of interpersonal conflict.  In sickness and in health, the relationship endures.


Distance challenges even the best of friendships.  Someone accepts a job in a new city. Tearful goodbyes are said.  Promises to stay in contact are issued.  But life moves on. And the geographical distance fosters relational distance. But sturdy friendships are the exception.  Contact is maintained.  Plane tickets are purchased.  And the relationship remains solid.


And then there is the ultimate challenge.  A death occurs. People change their plans to attend their longtime friend’s funeral service.  Some travel long distances and take vacation days at their job in order to comfort a family they love.  Hugs are shared.  Funny stories are shared.  Lots of tears are shed.  But as sad as it is, sometimes friendships change after a death. But those of the sturdy variety remain standing.


Judy knows what she is talking about.  And her word choice is indicative of her background as an educator.  I must say that I agree with her.  Long and sturdy friendship IS one of one of God’s greatest blessings.

 I have friends I met the summer before my second grade year.  After all of these years, we still love each other. And I have friends I met in high school.  If we can survive the things we did together as teenagers, then there is not much question regarding the sturdiness of our friendships. I have served several churches over the course of my career 29 year career.  My friendships with the members of those churches remains.  And I have served law enforcement agencies in three communities over a span of 26 years in chaplaincy.  My relationships with those public servants remains sturdy.


I have also faced that ultimate challenge in friendship.  Five of my friends I grew up with have passed away.  But my loyalty to them now extends to their spouses, children, and even grandchildren.  I am grateful that sturdiness can be equated with extending loyalty to those people my friends loved and cared for most.


Thank you Judy.  You expanded my vocabulary and caused me to give thanks on this Thanksgiving holiday. 

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