Editor’s Corner: The family you choose

Amy Forbus Editor, Arkansas United Methodist

Amy Forbus
Editor, Arkansas United Methodist

“Friends are the family you choose for yourself.”

It’s a phrase uttered so often that it has become an adage, not easily attributed to a single source. When it appears all over cute little wall plaques on Pinterest, you know it’s got to be true, right?

It certainly resonates with me. Over the past couple of decades, I’ve forged relationships with a handful of women who even my sisters understand are like sisters to me. And there are a few men besides my brother who I consider, and sometimes refer to as, brothers.

I have theological diversity in my circle of friends. Some of them see God quite differently from the way I do, and some believe in no higher being at all. (And among those who call themselves atheist or agnostic, I’ve found people just as kind, or kinder, than many I’ve met who call themselves Christian. Ponder that for a while.)

But the very deepest friendships are connected through Christ, as well. The friends who show up in our lives and circumstances to be “God with skin on” can make a world of difference.

Take note of the friends who are there for you when one of your parents is dying. Who arrive on your doorstep when you’re having a particularly rough time. Who pray with you and for you over the phone when they can’t be there in person. Who insist that you rest when you’re sick, and that you get out of the house as part of becoming well again. Remember their kindness, and learn from it.

One of my long-time friends recently wrote in an email, “Friendship is the vehicle through which God transforms us. I’d go so far as to say the cross has no meaning outside of friendship.”

Preach, brother.

His point brings to mind the words of Jesus found in John 15:13, just before he was arrested: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Those words would take on literal meaning all too quickly—something of which I’m particularly aware now, during the end of Lent.

Friendship fortified by the bond of Christ holds incredible power. It doesn’t have to feel “holy” or “proper.” It may even have greater meaning when it meets you down in the desolate pit or the miry bog (Psalm 40).

The same brother-friend who wrote the words above recently asked a small group a question borrowed from author and priest Barbara Brown Taylor: “What’s saving your life right now?”

I don’t know what answers those group members gave, but I know my answer. It’s when God shows up with skin on, every single day.

To reach me, send an email message to aforbus@arumc.org.