Pulling out a stack of mail from the mailbox, I leafed through the pile. I saw bills, ads, more bills, and then a white envelope with my name and address scrawled in handwritten cursive across the front. With handwritten notes being almost non-existent these days, I was immediately curious to see who had taken the time to send me a letter.
I walked inside the house, set the rest of the mail on the counter, and opened the letter. It was from a dear friend in town. She had written me a prayer, praying for my recent heartaches and disappointments. As I read these words—I pray this brokenness and discouragement would drive her to you, that you would be the encourager of her soul and the lifter of her head—I was reminded of this verse: "Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind" (1 Peter 3:8).
Friendship in today's culture
How many friends do you have? It's a tough question. Immediately our mind thinks of the number of friends on our social networking sites. And then there are our friends at work, in our neighborhood, and in our churches. When we think of it like that, it seems like we are rich in friends.
Or are we?
Since the advent of social media, our very definition of friendship has changed. We may have "friends" on our various social networking sites who we don't even remember how we know. While social media has often reunited us with friends from childhood and college days, all we really know about them is what we see on our feeds: pictures of their kids, updates on hobbies, vacations they've taken, the food they ate for dinner, and the latest joke they heard. All we know about these friends can be summed up in 140 characters or less.
What about the friends we see on a regular basis? Often our conversations center on the trivial. We talk about the cute thing our kid did last week, the grand vacation we are saving for, or the annoying thing our husband did that morning. We might exchange advice on dieting or parenting, or even how to advance in our careers.
Yet out of all our friends, IRL (in real life) or otherwise, who would know when we are feeling down? Who would know when our world is falling apart? Who would step in when we are about to make the biggest mistake of our lives? Who would encourage us with the hope we have in Christ? And who can we be real and authentic with, removing our masks and showing them who we really are?