My best friend sent me a text the other day that said, “I’m feeling trapped and a little bit sad.” Without having to ask, I knew what she meant when she said that. It’s a feeling I’m familiar with. When I have moments of feeling it, I send her a text that says something like, “I’m ready to drive to California til I run out of road, and even then I wanna just keep driving.” So, it wasn’t a total shock to me when I saw her later that night when she asked me if I had plans in June, because she was feeling so boxed in the predictability of the routine of her life that she wanted to take a road trip. And without having to say it, I knew that she wanted to go without a game plan. Just drive and see where we end up. Just drive and break free of the boredom.
What I love about this idea that my best friend has is that I’m a part of it. I love that she got to a point of feeling boxed in, and rather than turning inward in angst (which, I’ll be honest, is what my tendency is), she reached out her best girlfriend. I suspect that she invited me into this place of vulnerability because she trusted that I would understand and respond without judgment. I think she texted me and proposed this idea of road trip because she knew I’d say, “Great. I’ll drive.”
I think this is a beautiful picture of friendship…when it’s working well. I know that all of us have had experiences of friendship not working well, and we’ve created ways of interacting with people that we think will minimize the hurt most effectively. Even this week I was shocked when someone I know said, “I don’t think God created us to make friends. I think He created us to witness.” Her theology had become a defensive strategy to minimize the hurt. There’s no escaping that it’s bad theology, though.
Friendship, especially among Christians, is a gift from God. After Jesus’ ascension in the book of Acts, we see the Church established. Acts 2:42-47 are some of my favorite verses in all of Scripture, because God gives us a picture of what “the fellowship of believers” should look like. And I think that these 5 verses talk about living WITH each other – eating together, and worshiping together everyday. This IS friendship.
When my friend and I were talking about our road trip and sharing with each other about the different ways we feel trapped, we were engaged in the kind of relationship described in Acts 2. We were living with each other, “enjoying the favor of each other” (vs. 47). “Favor” in the Greek in this passage means “goodwill, lovingkindness, and proof of God’s grace.” Interesting how people can be the proof of God’s grace.
I think one of the benefits of this kind of community and the kind of friendship that I have with my road tripping friend is that the vulnerability required allows us to really know one another. So then, when I get into those moments of wanting to drive until I run out of road or my friend starts to feel trapped, we end up in the car together. And like my best friend said, “Sometimes you just need someone in the passenger seat to tell you that you’ve driven far enough and it’s time to go home now.”