Forrest & Jenny, Woody & Buzz, Sherlock & Watson, and Thelma & Louise. These are some of the most famous best friends of all time. But how does one acquire a best friend? Friends come in all shapes and sizes, and from all walks of life. They are born as your sister or cousin, or made from complete strangers. My sister, Mary, and I are very close, and true friends. Aside from my sister, I have a dear friend who is also my sister-in-Christ and we go to the same church. But growing up, my best friend was a little girl with blonde hair. She was sweet and kind, and she had a little sister about the same age as mine. I remember the first time I saw her. It was the first day of kindergarten. I was already in the classroom. I looked up, and she was coming through the doorway with her mother. Her hair was up in doggy ears, and I knew immediately that we would be best friends.
As fate would have it, she only lived a short way from my house. For the next 13 years we were pretty much inseparable. We spent countless dinners at each others houses, there were innumerable sleep overs, and no end to the hours spent playing and talking on the phone. We were the keepers of each others’ secrets. We planned and schemed great things together. We shared clothes and opinions. We made many choices and decisions together. We played sports together. We became family. I love her parents and sister as I do my own. My older brothers would tease me about how much time we spent together. They liked to say, “Julie, Julie, Julie!” (Taking after the Brady Bunch‘s “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha!”) I never cared what they said. Julie McDougal was my best friend. We would do anything for each other, and nothing would change that. Not even all the teasing in the world.
We spent more time laughing together than probably anything else. We laughed at everything, but mostly each other…like the time I clothes-lined myself running full-speed into the neighbor’s antenna wire, or when we flipped my go-cart trying to do a fishtail. In the summer when we would go to the swimming pool, we liked to go to the deep end and swim out to the middle. Then we would start laughing just to see if we could make it to the side of the pool before we drowned. Life was pretty much a game to us, and we were championship players. Despite all our silly antics, we were there for each other during difficult times as well, and stuck up for one another. I can remember when I felt down about something, was sad, or just in a bad mood, if I could just spend some time with Julie it made things better.
I feel very blessed to have had Julie and her family in my life. The are good Christian people. They were wonderful mentors for me growing up. Many of you had best friends like this and can relate. There is nothing like having a best friend. The bible gives a lot of advice about friends and how to choose them. Proverbs is full of words we should live by on the matter: “A friend loves at all times,” “Don’t be friends with angry or hot-tempered people, they will make you like them,” (Proverbs, 17:17; 22:24-25). The bible even talks about how a friend will sometimes tell you things you don’t want to hear; reveal a truth about yourself that you don’t want to admit. Your first reaction may be hurt or anger, but Proverbs 27:5-6 helps you understand there may be good in it, “Better an open reprimand than concealed love. The wounds of a friend are trustworthy, but the kisses of an enemy are excessive.” Most excellent advice is found in 1 Corinthians 15:33, “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Julie McDougal was my best friend growing up, and she knows where all the bodies are buried, but she is not the best friend I ever had. The best friend I ever had was a friend to tax collectors and sinners, prostitutes and adulterers, lepers and all those discarded or shunned by society. The one who stays closer to me than a brother, Proverbs 18:24, although I have never even met Him. In the flesh, that is. He is Jesus Christ. He longs for my company and wants to spend time with me. He gives me rest from my troubles and burdens, Matthew 11:28. He cares so much for me that He willingly suffered and died for me just so I could have the possibility of forgiveness and eternal life, Romans 4:25. Jesus sits right now, on the right-hand side of God and intercedes with Him for ME, Romans 8:34. For ME. He showed us how to treat friends. He washed the feet of the friends He loved, John 13:5-9. Jesus told us to love each other as He loved us. He said there is no greater love than the love of someone who would lay down their life for you, John 15:12-15. There is no greater friendship than the one with Jesus Christ. Yeah, He’s the best friend I ever had, and ever will have. This world can’t even begin to dish out enough teasing, tormenting, persecuting, or discriminating to change it either.
Life took Julie and I in different directions, and we don’t live down the street from each other any more. We don’t even live in the same state. In fact, we may not talk for long periods of time, years even, which seems funny to me now considering how much we talked as kids. But if I picked up the phone for her right now, she’d be there for me, as I would for her. Each time we do get to see each other, it’s like no time has passed between us. We have a life-long bond of memories and love. I pray to the best friend I ever had, Jesus, to watch over and bless my other best friend. I ask that she have peace and joy, and an abiding friendship with You as well. This I pray for all my friends. Thank you sweet Jesus!
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