“The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are.” *C.S. LEWIS
I have good friends. They’re people who are good to the world and people who are good to me. And while I love them for their efforts to live in the world in a Christ-like way, I especially love them for the way this translates into my life. (Maybe that’s a little bit selfish, but today I’m totally okay with that.)
Last weekend I was wading through a really deep place with Jesus, precipitated by a tough decision I had to make about applying to a job out-of-state. Over the last few months, this particular decision, the one that begs the question, “Should I stay or should I go?” has been the thing that drives me into the dark. It has been the thing that drives me into my own head and away from other people. Thankfully though, like I said, I have good friends. And the good-to-me part of this is that they’re generally a pretty perceptive, discerning group, so they respect my need for some introspection – which is probably more than your average bear – and have a pretty good read on when it’s time to ask me to talk about it. I like this about them. It means they know me.
Danielle has been in my world for more than a decade, though our friendship is only about half as long. Our connection happened kind of organically, by nature of having overlapping social circles, but I suspect there was divine ordination in that. I think we watched each other be friends to the same people before we became friends ourselves, and I think this allowed us to get to see each others’ character play out in a special way. Before I would see Danielle take care of me, I saw how she took care of our friend Beth when Beth’s grandparents died, driving over an hour from her home twice that year to sit with her and hold her hand at the funerals. I watched Danielle be that friend who shows up, and I’ve known Danielle to be that friend to me. And that friend, the one who shows up, is a treasure with innumerable value. And that friend is a friend worth listening to when you’re in the midst of making a hard decision. Blessedly, Danielle is not the only friend in my life like that. I’m lucky enough to have those friends, a whole circle of them, like C.S. Lewis encourages.
When I’m in the deep places with Jesus, I generally go there alone. More often than not, I think this is okay, because I think like Jacob in Genesis 32, God desires that we lock in with Him and wrestle a bit and come away having overcome. I think God desires to bless us through this, like He blessed Jacob. I can’t help but wonder, though, if maybe we’re not always meant to wrestle alone. Maybe, sometimes, we’re supposed to tag in our brothers and sisters in Christ, those friends who have proven worth and wisdom. Maybe that’s a piece of how the Church is supposed to work as well.
When I was wrestling through the decision last weekend, I tagged in Danielle and I tagged in another one of those friends, and they both offered me another way of looking at my situation. They both advocated for my best, and reminded me who I am. I think maybe therein lies their wisdom – their knowledge of who God is meeting their knowledge of who I am.
I am not always so wise. I lose the sense of who I am in the chaos of decision making and in the busyness of life and in the emotion that goes with all of it. Sometimes, more often than I’d like to admit, I lose the sense of who God is, too. I am ever grateful for the Church and those friends, who show up to remind me who I am and, more importantly, who God is.