In Praise of Friends

The best thing about Annesley’s wedding? Everything.

Oh, plenty of things went wrong (some funny, some less-so, depending I guess on your point of view), and I’m sure I’ll be writing about one or two of those memory-makers soon. For now, though, I just have to give a shout out to the bridesmaids and the house party gals who, through the sheer gift of their friendship, made the entire weekend sparkle.

Bridesmaid selfie

In an age where relationships are often measured in “likes,” it can be tough to know what true friendship is. These girls, though, are the real deal.

From Julia, the “Bond Girl” who has known Annesley since forever…

photo 5

To Kate, the stranger-turned-soulmate in the blink of an eye…


To Virginia and Hillary, the sisters who spent the better part of a year perfecting the “Maid of Honor” role…


…every one of Annesley’s ‘maids is a living picture of John 15:12.  That’s where Jesus talks about how he is our friend, and he gives us an example to follow:  “Love each other,” he says, “as I have loved you.”

These girls have done exactly that. They have been loyal, selfless, transparent, resourceful, and fun. Watching them interact over the wedding weekend, I was reminded of how C.S. Lewis likened friendship to “unnecessary” things like philosophy and art. He said that friendship has “no survival value; rather it is one of those things which give value to survival.”

I adore Lewis, but modern science might beg to differ with his wisdom – at least insofar as survival is concerned. Psychologist Matthew Lieberman has done all sorts of research on the human brain, and in his book, Social, he maintains that we need a sense of connection even more than we need food and shelter. “Love and belonging might seem like a convenience we can live without,” he says, “but our biology is built to thirst for connection because it is linked to our most basic survival needs.”

Our biology is built to thirst for connection. I am certain that Lieberman is right on this one – if for no other reason than that friendship is at the heart of who God is.

Friendship has existed since before time began, in the Trinity. Friendship was our first-ever felt need, and God knew it:  “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). And the lack of friendship – otherwise known as loneliness – is the one problem we will ever have simply because we are made in the image of God. We long for connection because he does.

That last point – that our loneliness or our longing for connection can be traced directly to our Creator – is one that I wish I wish I had made up, but I can’t take credit. It’s a rip off from a sermon our minister, Andy Buchanan, gave a month or so ago. If you find yourself longing for friends, or wondering how to mend a broken relationship, or even just trying to figure out what real friendship is supposed to look like (and I promise you, it’s not the website I found where, for $200, you can buy yourself 1,000 friends – real people – who will “follow” you and post comments on your social media sites), click here to listen to Andy’s message. (You’ll have to scroll down to the teaching from 5/10/15; look for the title “Friendship.”)

“Love each other.”

Can there be a more wonderful biblical charge? Thank you, wedding girlfriends, for doing your job so well.





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Sin and Dust

I once read that you don’t need to worry all that much about dust.  If you simply ignore it for six months, the tipster promised, it doesn’t really get any worse.

Or maybe it was a year.  Or two.  I don’t remember.

But I can tell you this, based on my own actual scientific research:  There is no discernible difference between the way that an un-dusted trophy looks after five years or ten.

photoThere is this really high shelf that marks the perimeter of Robbie’s room.  We started throwing the trophies up there when he was about five years old:  the Black Knights, the Purple Wolves, the Buckeyes, the Shark Attack, and even the Coronado Flower Show (Robbie snagged top honors in the “bean plate” division) are all represented.  Eyeing the collection from time to time, I would occasionally think to myself, “I should probably dust those some day.”

Well, “some day” finally came.  Last week, I pulled the hardware  down and got out my all-time favorite cleaning product.  (And seriously.  If you get nothing else out of this blog, you should at least try The Original Bee’s Wax.  It’s pricey, but it literally works great on everything.  Even as I type this, I am thinking about squirting it on the dogs, just to see.)

Anyhow, the trophies didn’t look as bad as I thought they might, after so many years.

Looking at them jumbled together on the floor, I was reminded of something C.S. Lewis said about time and the effect that it has on sin:

We have a strange illusion that mere time cancels sin.

It doesn’t, of course.  But, as Lewis observed (and if you want the full treatment, check out The Problem of Pain), we have this idea that long-gone offenses – the “cruelties and falsehoods committed in boyhood” – don’t matter anymore, or that they are of no real concern.

“But mere time,” Lewis said, “does nothing either to the fact or to the guilt of a sin.”

The fact or the guilt of a sin.  Like dust on the trophies, I guess, these things might not look any worse, over time.  (They might even be less noticeable, on a day-to-day basis, particularly as we get used to living with them.)  But they certainly don’t go away all by themselves.  The need the spiritual equivalent of The Original Bee’s Wax.

They need The Cross.

Talk about a product that works on everything.  Truly.  It doesn’t matter how long the dust has been gathering, or how thick it is.  The trophies that are our lives can be made new again, more beautiful than we could ever have imagined.  All it takes is repentance and a willingness to accept the forgiveness – the cleansing – God offers.

And I don’t know about you, but I want that.  I want my life to be something that showcases God’s glory, something that proclaims the victories he has accomplished – in spite of my layers of dust.

I don’t know if God has a trophy case, but if he does, I definitely want to be in it.






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Renovation: When God Grabs the Hammer

photoRobbie and I have a shared love for fixer-uppers.  Everywhere we move (and we’ve moved a lot), we look for the ugliest or most neglected house we can find, and we make an offer.

One time, we bought a house and raked the leaves in the front yard – a move that soon had neighbors stopping by to admire “what we’d done to the place.”  (Yes, it was that bad.)  Another time, we added some crown molding to the living room and a wrought iron railing to the front balcony, prompting the former owner’s wife to berate her husband:  “See honey?  That’s what wanted to do when we lived here!  I kept telling you…”

Poor guy.

And, in the house we currently call home, the hardwood floors rose and fell in so many directions that, if you’d dropped a marble, it wouldn’t have known which way to roll.  When the contractor removed the eight shims that he found in the basement (and I use that term very loosely…it was more of a hole dug during Prohibition by an enterprising bootlegger), the floors suddenly dropped into place.  Less charm, more structural integrity.  It was a trade-off that made Robbie happy.

Suffice it to say, we love making old things pretty again.  And right now, as I type, there is a handyman working away on our breezeway, which, thanks to one too many nor’easters in these parts, had begun to rot.  At first, I was kind of annoyed by all of the banging (children, dogs, workmen…there’s always something that gets in the way of the Pulitzer), but then I remembered one of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes.  It’s from Mere Christianity:

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

Wow.  That’s a nifty perspective-changer, isn’t it?

Today, if you find yourself with some rotting woodwork or wavy floors in the space that you call your life, or even if there’s something pretty yucky that’s lurking in your crawlspace, don’t worry if the Carpenter comes in and starts making some noise.  Renovation can be messy, and even painful sometimes.  But hey – you’re becoming a palace!

And I don’t know about you, but I think that’s exciting.  (I could definitely use a new tower or two.)


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