“M made me cry today on the bus.” This is the first thing my daughter says to me as she holds back tears on her last day of school.
“What do you mean? Why did she make you cry?”
“Well, she wouldn’t let our other friend sit with me!”
I’ll be honest. There was a large part of me that was extremely angry. See, M is the topic of quite a few conversations I have with my daughter in the afternoons after she has spent an evening bus ride being hurt and bullied by a “friend.” Then there was the other part of me-the part that hurt for my daughter. For her broken spirit. For the diminishing of the spirit of love she has in her heart for her friends. That part of me that has been there, too.
I knew it was finally time to have a heart to heart with my 7 year old little girl about true friendship. About how friends are called to really treat each other. Whether they are 7, or much older.
A friend is always loyal, and a brother is born to help in times of need. Proverbs 17:17
“Why do you think your brother likes to sit with you on the bus?” And as she shrugs, her older brother hugs her, quietly telling his little sister, that it is because her brother loves her, and that friends should love each other as brother and sister, too.
We are commanded to treat each other with loyalty, respect, and love. At all times. Not just when times are good. But, when they are not. Respect our friends, not only when they agree with us and our choices, but even when they don’t. Stay loyal to our friends even if they choose a path we wouldn’t have picked for them. Respect and love our friends even if someone else wants to share that seat on the bus, at the lunch table, in the cafeteria or restaurant, in the workplace. At all times.
Encourage each other everyday while you have the opportunity. Hebrews 3:13
“And, also, honey…friends usually won’t make you cry.”
Unless, of course you are crying with your friend, because you feel their pain, or they feel yours. No, we don’t make our friends cry deliberately. We encourage them. We lift them up. We tell them how wonderful they are, even when they feel anything but. We give up our wants, our needs, our desires, our time, to stop and give to those we care about, even if it means we have to sacrifice a little of ourselves. We encourage at all times. In the middle of the night. When they feel lonely, scared, bruised. Even when we could use a little encouragement ourselves. And, sometimes we give up the seat on the bus so our friend can be comfortable.
There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:13
At the young age of 7, the last thing my daughter wants to hear is that she may have to find new friends, but for me-I want the kind of friend who will lay in the aisle of the bus if it meant I was taken care of, and I want to be the friend who does the same.
I want my daughter to know what it is like to have friends that would drop their plans, come running, or even whisk her away for a weekend, when her life has become one big crisis after another.
I want my daughter to know what it is like to have friends who will support her dreams, support her cause, support her children and their needs. Who will be a shoulder for her to cry on. Who will provide a laugh when life gets messy. Who will allow her to be herself, even when she may not even know who that may be.
And I want my daughter to be the same kind of friend.
Like my friends have been for me.
Loving. Encouraging. Supportive. Selfless.
At all times.