They say that friendship is about quality, not quantity. I say, true that.
I was eleven and living in Northern Ireland. Following back surgery, I wasn’t taking part in sport at school. If you weren’t taking part in the class, to make sure that you still got some form of physical exercise, you and whoever else wasn’t taking part had to walk around the hockey pitch for the entire class. One particular day, a red-headed girl from my year group, who I had never spoken to before, wasn’t taking part either. So, we walked together, we introduced ourselves, we talked for the full class, and the rest, you could say, is history. This year, we’ll have been best friends for thirteen years (over half our lives!). We are the proof that true friendship creeps up when we least expect, and that one conversation can dramatically change the course of a life.
A similar thing happened when I was seventeen. My Dad had gone away on a preaching trip to America. He met a family, and they clicked. He rang me that night – “they have a daughter. She’s your age. She loves Les Miserables and The Hunger Games, just like you. I’ve told her to find you on Facebook. I think you’ll really get on”. Understatement would be the word that comes to mind. Not only did we “get on”, but six years later, she is still one of my best friends. She’s been to visit me here in the UK, and I’ve been over to visit her twice. She is the definition of a “kindred spirit”.
God knew I needed both women. Not just for a season, but to walk through life with. I dread to think what might have happened if one or both of us had taken part in the gym class that day, or what might not have been had Dad not gone on that preaching trip that led to one of the most beautiful friendships I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing.
I’ve been so fortunate to have had and to still have them both in my life, and for me to be in theirs, and to know that they’re just a message away. These two godly Christian women have blessed my life in so many ways through their friendship – and they are both friends who have become sisters over time. I imagine that it’s true Christian friendships like these that are the reason God created friendship in the first place.
But what sparked all this reminiscing and gushing over my best friends? I promise I’m not being indulgent or bragging about how great these two friends of mine are (even though they are great, and you should meet them!). In my Bible reading, I’ve been reading through Exodus, and a particular passage really stood out as an example of true friendship.
In Exodus 17, we read of an attack made on the Israelites by the Amalekites – “As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up – one on one side, one on the other – so that his hands remained steady till sunset” (Exodus 17:11-12, NIV).
Everyone needs an Aaron and Hur in their life. The two women I mentioned at the start of this post are my Aaron and Hur (I’m sure they’ll be thrilled). So many times, they have “held up my hands” – when I become tired with my situation, when I become discouraged in my waiting, when I just simply don’t understand why things have turned out the way they have. They have offered advice, encouragement, support, love, and a listening ear. But they are also honest, even when the truth is hard to hear. And, most importantly, they have held me up in prayer. Christian friendship is important.
However, Christian friendship is so hard to find. I can testify to that. In fact, that’s how this blog started – “Is There Anybody Out There?” Since moving back to my hometown in England, leaving my red-headed hockey pitch best friend behind in Northern Ireland, and with my kindred spirit at the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, I have struggled with feelings of loneliness. Since moving back, I haven’t found any Christian friends to do life with in person. And I know I’m not the only one.
Things need to change. We’ve been fighting loneliness for too long. We’ve been walking alone for too long. It’s time for the Aarons and the Hurs to step up and be counted.
In their book Girl Defined, Kristen Clark and Bethany Baird explain the importance of Christian sisterhood. For the purposes of this blog, I would like to extend that to brotherhood and sisterhood. They write: “We may not be related by birth, but we are related through the blood of Christ. We, as Christian women [and men], are going to spend eternity together with our Father in heaven. We can honestly say we will be sisters [and brothers] forever”.
They continue, “We need the support and strength of one another. […] If we band together and fight for one another, we will grow God’s kingdom and be strengthened. […] [We] will remain like a rope with many cords. We won’t be weakened. We won’t be broken. We will be stretched and pulled but not destroyed. […] If one falls, the other will be there to pick her up. If one is cold, the other will be there to keep her warm. If one is attacked, the other will be there to help her fight”.
I desire true community. Finding true, likeminded Christians to support and be supported by. The chance to be an Aaron or a Hur for others. Perhaps you feel that too. I think it’s about time that we started a movement – to combat our loneliness, to find true and solid Christian friendship, and to find the Aarons and Hurs that will be willing to hold up our hands when we need them too. If you’re finding yourself in a period of isolation, I would love for you to get in touch. I would love to help you connect with other Christians who find themselves in a similar place.
Because friendship is good. The Bible says, “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity” (Psalm 133:1, ESV). We are instructed to “encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11, ESV) and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2, ESV). Let us take up the call of Aaron and Hur, and hold up the hands of our friends when they need us to:
“When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up”.