My buddy Kelly casually dropped the name of a group last summer that he thought I might look to add to the iPod rotation. The band he mentioned was the Avett Brothers and the scouting report was superb. Today a song by the group inspired this week’s iPod Devotional. It is called “The Perfect Space” and the lyrics resonated with my season of life.
I wanna’ have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become not the man I was.
My Truefaced friend John Lynch says it this way.
“What if there was a place where the worst of me could be known, and I would discover in the telling of it that I would be loved more, not less?”
Wouldn’t that be amazing? To have a friend that you could trust with all that is true about you and feel safe. All of us have a deep need to be known and accepted.
Real friends are a treasure. I hope I don't insult your intelligence if I remind you it was 17th century French classical author François La Rochefoucauld that wrote, "A true friend is the most precious of all possessions and the one we take the least thought about acquiring."
Henri Nouwen captures the heart of friendship that goes beyond backslappin', watching football and telling bad jokes.
"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
That very thought is captured in the next lyric by the Avett Brothers.
I wanna have friends that will let me be
all alone when being alone is all that I need.
I wanna fit in to the perfect space,
feel natural and safe in a volatile place.
Sometimes the best way to be a friend is to just be present. And when you can trust others you learn that you are not alone in your struggle. Author C.S. Lewis once observed that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: "What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”
More thought provoking lyrics from the Avett Brothers.
I wanna have pride like my mother has,
And not like the kind in the Bible that turns you bad.
The Avett Brothers group features two actual brothers, Scott and Seth, along with bass player Bob Crawford, cellist Joe Kwon, and drummer Jacob Edwards. The brothers Avett were regular church goers in Mt. Pleasant, North Carolina. They heard a few sermons along the way about the danger of pride. The truth is that nothing creates an environment of trust like humility and loyalty. In that soil deep friendship grows.
And I wanna have friends that I can trust,
that love me for the man I’ve become and not the man that I was.
When you look at your friends through the lens of grace you see who they have become and, more importantly, who they can become in Christ.
I love the New Testament story of the man who was paralyzed and his friends were trying to get him in front of Jesus. They cared. When they couldn't get in the door they cut a hole in the roof and lowered him down to Jesus. The Lord was moved by the man's faith (and the faith of his friends) and He had mercy on him. What strikes me is how Jesus addressed the man.
He said, "Friend, your sins are forgiven you." (Luke 5, NASB)
Jesus still calls men friend when they simply humble themselves in faith. I used to sing "What a Friend We Have in Jesus" in my little hometown church. Jesus is indeed a friend that will never desert me. Jesus also knew that we needed earthly friends to help navigate this often difficult journey.
Satan would like nothing more than to use the hurts and difficult people in life to keep you from that “perfect space” that is in relationship with Jesus. Relationships are a risk. But we were created to be in fellowship with our Creator and one another. Anything less leaves a void.
Pray for friends. Most importantly, be a friend. You will likely be disappointed and even hurt along the way. But finding that small number of real friends is worth it. All friends are a blessing. Real friends are a treasure. I will wrap this up with a quote from one of my sentimental favorites, the movie "It's A Wonderful Life".
Remember, no man is a failure who has friends.