The Litmus Test of a Healthy Relationship

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My doors were opened, and dinner was paid for. Anecdote-prompted laughter, a dive into the Colorado River, and an accepted challenge to run the last bit of a hike back to the car are the other details that stand out. That night, I walked through my door on cloud nine, grateful for the full day and God’s gifts. The funny part is, it really sounds like I’m describing a date. Not exactly. The door-opener happens to be my best friend’s boyfriend, and before you think I’m a horrible person, I need to mention that she was there as well.

Me and my bestie have always wondered what it would look like for one of us to start dating someone. In a long season of singleness and God’s gentle and loving “No’s” for a status change, our friendship has been the one area of our lives where God hasn’t withheld ANYTHING. If I had the time, I could tell you about countless adventures where God clearly showed up, just showering us with good gifts. It’s this beautiful mixture of deep, Jesus-loving conversations as we sit on kitchen counters and spontaneous bouts of silliness that leave us with stomach aches from laughing so hard and people around us wondering if any illegal substances are involved. Nope, all natural. My parents adopted her into our family as their third daughter, and we get to work and live together. Free time, adventure, weekends, and humorous meme texts have been spent on each other for almost a decade, and so it seemed like a step towards marriage for either one of us might throw off the sisterhood we’ve been blessed to build.

About 6 months ago, she met someone, and I find myself in the midst of figuring out what it looks like to share her. As it turns out, It’s not as difficult as I thought it would be.  They actually invite me to hang out with them on dates and she’s really gracious to check up on me every once in a while, to ask if anything about their interaction makes me uncomfortable. More than just surviving this new era, I find myself actually enjoying it.  And it’s got me asking a question: What is the difference between the friendships that disappear with a new relationship and those that are actually enhanced?

I think of a friend from college whose spouse was quick to give me the title of friend. Since I mattered to her, I was going to matter to him, too.  Alternatively, I think of other scenarios where hanging out with an old friend and their boyfriend or spouse was just plain uncomfortable.  I’m sure we can all think of a time when an excess of “coupling” left you looking for an exit or conversation suffered a slow death because the counterpart you don’t know as well wasn’t as keen on getting to know you. Or maybe after a new relationship, a friend decides that they don’t have much in common with you anymore, and it’s time for them to start hanging out with other couples at the expense of your friendship. Here’s my next question: As Believer’s, should we allow the natural drift that tends to happen when people pair off? My opinion is no, but since I’m biased, I will explain, in detail, why you should pay attention to the third wheels in your life.  I intend to convince you that they are one of the best indicators of a healthy relationship.

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1. Relationships should help you serve better together than apart

I’m sure we’ve all heard this sentiment, but as a single person, this truth is something that I’ve had to hang onto for dear life at times. If God’s goal in rescuing us into His family is to build His kingdom, then the reason for my season of singleness must be that He knows I can serve Him better this way. Should He choose to throw an eligible bachelor into the equation, it can only mean that our union enhances how we serve others, helping them know and love Jesus more. Alternatively, if a couple behaves in a way that cuts them off from some of the people in their lives, they are potentially less fruitful than when they were single. A Kingdom-call-answering relationship should enhance the gifts of those involved in a way that blesses those around them.

2. Diverse Community Reinforces a Relationship

We typically think about the necessity of community in a new relationship because of the pitfalls that dating life bring about. But every season of life offers its own challenges that require community, and not the kind of community that segregates the church into teens, singles, young marrieds, married with kids, etc. I love the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 that compares the church to a body. Verse 18 says that “God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose.” Verse 21 goes on to say “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’” The natural separation that happens sometimes between single and married people can often sound like that. But this passage flies in the face of what is natural. Verse 13 says that “in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” We need each other. We have all been given unique gifts and insight due to our unique callings by the same Spirit, and much like a limb being cut off from blood-flow, when we cut ourselves off from each other, we miss out and fall asleep.

3. The Gospel needs to be on display.

From Ephesians 5 and elsewhere, we understand that the main purpose of marriage, as God designed from the beginning, is to put the Gospel on display. In this image, the husband loves sacrificially like Christ loves the church and the bride responds in respect and service. They prefer and serve each other in a beautiful dance that puts Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers to shame. We are all given lights that serve as a testimony of God’s love and work in our lives, but the combining of two lights in marriage should provide a much brighter light to their spheres of influence. An isolated couple might as well cover the light they’ve been entrusted with because no one can see it anyways.  I’m reminded of a song from my childhood. “Hide it under a bushel, no! I’m gonna let it shine.” (And now it’s in your head, isn’t it?) If you are a Christian and you are in a relationship, you have been entrusted with beautiful truths that are meant to shine bright for ALL to see, not just those who have lots in common with you.

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            You may recall from high school chemistry that a litmus test is performed to tell you how acidic or basic a solution is. In a similar way, a couple’s interaction with the plus nones in their lives will indicate the health of their relationship. The kind of dating or marriage relationship that encourages the single people in its sphere speaks to an understanding of its purpose, God-given community, and gospel-reflecting interaction.

For married and dating couples reading this, let me ask one more question. Have you checked in on your single friends lately? They might have some valuable insight to share on how inclusive and caring your relationship is towards outsiders. Ask them if they can see the Gospel up-close in the image you reflect. Don’t have any single friends, anymore? Well maybe you have some work to do. Much like the pins and needles sensation of a limb regaining feeling, it might not be easy. But it will be worth it. I so treasure the friendships of couples who allow me to live life with them and treat me like family.

 

All my heart,

Rachelle

To the Man who Takes my Place

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I knew from the moment my question went unanswered. Up until that point, what I had to say always claimed her audience above anybody else (you know, besides Jesus).  For the past nine years, we’ve been inseparable.  Nothing earthly knows her better than I do, but I’m starting to realize that won’t always be the case. And so, my words hung in the air as she caught your gaze from across the room and everything, including myself, faded into the background. I won’t lie- it stung in the moment, but can I blame her? You’ve been the perfect combination of Cary Grant and Walt Disney. I mean, your chivalry will be the cause of her forgetting how to open a car door, and your creative date-planning skills would turn the heart of the worst man-hater to mush!

….Accepting Change….

When a best friend dates and begins to date seriously, it’s natural for things to shift. Change is part of life, and this particular change has been prayed for by her and myself for most of our friendship. Now that those prayers have been answered, my moment of possessiveness sounds ironic. For the time being, that emotion was fleeting. But in all honesty, it will likely return. You know what a catch she is, and can at least somewhat understand how difficult it might be to surrender some parts of our sisterhood to make room for an outsider.

Even though I can’t compete with hammocks under the Mt. Charleston stars and fancy dinner date nights, I think I’m still MVP, at least for now. It’s a role I don’t take lightly. It’s a role that you shouldn’t take lightly, either. Here’s why: we are sisters. If I saw any red flags, she would consider them. If I had any reservations, I would have her full attention. It’s only fair to mention that so far, no concerns have surfaced. In fact, I’m convinced that besides the work of Jesus in her heart, you might be the best thing to ever happen to her. You seem to have figured out her quirks and broken down walls in record timing. The giggles and laughter that ensue whenever you call echo through our apartment. Sometimes, after coming home from a great date the night before, she’ll actually wake up cheerful, and she’s by no means a morning person. There’s a new level of exuberance in her countenance, and I can’t help but notice that the transformation began right around the time that the two of you started talking. Most important among your merits however, is that you claim to know Jesus. And the fruit of that claim seems to be evident in how you love and serve others, even complete strangers. But a bestie needs more assurance than that. A bestie needs to know that her sister will be well-taken care of, should you one day ask a question that will dress her in white. I’ve narrowed it down to the three things that I want you to have in order before you get down on one knee.

….The Requirements….

First of all, I need you to be fearful of loving her too much. That sentiment might fly in the face of everything our culture tells us about love, but let me explain. She might make a great girlfriend. She is, without a doubt, wifey material. If God blesses her with children, she’ll be a fantastic mother. The one role she’d be terrible at is taking the place of God in your life. She’s a wonderful human being, but her flawed humanity is unable to carry the weight of your cosmic expectations. So don’t ask her to. Fight hard to love Jesus more, and tremble at the thought of anything less so that my dear friend can be appropriately treasured, not idolized.

Secondly, cultivate godly male friendships. Allow older men in the church to speak into your life. Trials will come. Temptation will knock. And if you don’t have flesh and blood safeguards who can offer counsel or a straight up kick in the shin when needed, you risk steering your family off the narrow path and my friend into heartache.

Last but certainly not least, you need to understand that one day, you will find yourself in a similar position to the one I’m in- you will find your role partially diminished and taken over by a more capable man. I don’t mean to be morbid, but should you change my friend’s last name, death will eventually do you part. On that day, you will cease to be her husband and she will cease to be your wife. She will take on a more permanent state along with the rest of us who are eventually called to our eternal home with Jesus. You need to realize this now because she is only ever on loan to any of us.  How will this point make a difference? This mindset will aid you in points one and two. If you understand that she isn’t your forever, Jesus will keep his rightful place in both of your lives. If you understand that you will be surrendering her fully to Christ one day, you’ll step up your game in caring for her spiritually while she is yours. You’ll include those safeguards to make sure you don’t fail your Savior.

….Passing the Baton….

I honestly couldn’t care less about how big a house she sleeps in or how financially stable your budget is. Life gets tough, marriage is no piece of cake, and there’s too much kingdom work to bother with building too many earthly accomplishments. So before you pledge your earthly life to serving my friend and take my place as her closest companion, I need to know that her beautiful soul will be well-cared for in the days to come. I will accept nothing less because I love her that much.

Sincerely,

MVP

Stop Building Your Own Kingdom!

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I recently passed the 10th anniversary of graduating high school. In other words, I have officially been “adulting” for over a decade. It has been over ten years since I turned 18. More than ten years since I was able to make adult decisions like whether or not to vote, smoke, or ride a bicycle without a helmet. Ten years since I finished my senior year of high school and jumped into the fuzzy unknown of the “real world.” Ten years of figuring out life apart from the innocence of childhood or the confusion of teenage crisis. A lot can happen in a decade. I think back to the dreams and goals I had when I grabbed a diploma and moved a tassel.

My 18 year-old self would probably have been disappointed and confused with how my life has turned out. Despite her excitement over the game-changing product that is dry shampoo, she would have wondered why it took me an extra year to finish college. She would have scratched her head as to why I’m not a medical doctor, finishing out my training in some prestigious residency program. She would have sighed disapprovingly at having ended up in the desert, of all places. She would look at my insecurities and wonder why I don’t seem to “have it together” yet. And she would definitely call out my singleness, wondering how I messed up on my golden opportunity at a Christian college campus, where you’re supposed to get your MRS degree along with your Bachelor’s!

Alas! She has so much to learn! If she was sitting next to me in all her judgment, I would have so much to offer her in explaining how flawed her plan is and how much more glorious God’s plan is! At 18, I was basically off to achieve a Christian version of the American Dream. I wanted to have a successful career that not only paid well, but helped people so that I could have money AND meaning in my life. I wanted to be married right after college so that I could be a young mom and live in a suburban area where I could own a ranch with barnyard animals- all wrapped up in a white picket fence with the merits of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Little did I know, God was paving a much different path, one that would eventually reveal a fundamental flaw in my plot. My main issue? I was building my own kingdom. Sure, I wanted God to play a part in my screenplay- an important one, even. But I didn’t want Him to draw outside my lines. 1 Thessalonians 2:12 says that God “calls us into HIS own kingdom.” A lot of heartache comes when we reverse that and call God into OUR kingdom, acting like He owes us things He hasn’t promised.

So what’s the problem with building our own kingdom over God’s? Isn’t it a good thing to want freedom, financial success, and a family? Well, for one, our kingdom dies with us. If it’s earthly, it goes. Marriage, career, dwelling… all the things and statuses dissolve or transform in eternity. Marriage turns to siblinghood, corporate ladders crumble, and earthly homes are traded for lodging prepared by Jesus that won’t have water heaters that break and leak into the apartment below you. Additionally, earthly kingdom-building makes us near-sighted. We ignore the eternal things that God has promised us because we are so enthralled with what we want to create and experience this side of heaven. In short, it’s idolatry, and in my 20’s, I had to come to terms with that to see the bigger picture.

After a fainting spell in a hospital internship (long story), a dateless existence in college, and a couple years spent in cubicle world, I had a couple of options. I could pout and be eaten away by discontentment or I could relinquish the script over to God. Honestly, I chose a mixture of both, but I don’t think He erased the original draft completely. There may be things He chooses to still weave in, in His timing.

Want to know the most beautiful part? In allowing God to trail blaze the best route into eternity, I’m constantly amazed at His goodness and supreme ability to screen write. And if my 18-year-old self were sitting next to me, I would try to convince her of that. But I don’t think I would tell her about the details. I wouldn’t tell her how much she would eventually enjoy teaching science to rowdy high school students. I wouldn’t divulge how incomparable California sunsets and thunderstorms are to Nevada ones. I wouldn’t tell her about all the adventure, passion, and growth that singleness has afforded. I wouldn’t tell her about a best friend whom God will use to change her life. I wouldn’t tell her about earlier this week, when I hung out with an amazing group of students and cried ugly tears all the way home because one is leaving for college. I would leave those beautiful things to be discovered because it was a slow but necessary path in giving up my kingdom for God’s.

So what about you? Did my story bring anything to light about whose kingdom you’re toiling for? Have you seen the futility in laying earthly bricks? I’m convinced we often don’t dream big enough. In plotting out of our own abilities, we don’t have access to much. But Jesus has all the resources and power we lack. Will you surrender to Him and join His kingdom work?

Love,

Rachelle

Am I Too Picky? (Part 2)

 

***If you missed Part I of this segment, you can find it here–> Am I Too Picky? (Part I)

In the previous post, we  began an attempt to answer the question of pickiness in dating. If you’re like me,  searching your soul for honest answers feels something like swimming in a murky lake. You were pushed in and now you’re fearful of bumping into something you’d rather be ignorant of. When asked, “Are you too picky?”, there are several creatures in that body of water that might bite at your ankles. We could be talking about expectations of character, theological understanding, personality, hygiene habits, financial prowess or external appearance. The most common monster is the last one on the list, so in this post, we’ll tackle it in Crocodile Hunter fashion by starting with an introduction.

Introducing… Bob. You and Bob met at church/Bible Study/school and you get along great. Bob is a faithful, godly, even funny guy. He treats his family really well and he is active in ministry, leading younger guys and growing in his relationship with God. If you were to be honest with yourself, he fits a LOT of the qualities you would want in a spouse. Despite all of these nice things, there’s that oooone thing. I’ll just come out and say it: the dude isn’t nice to look at. And perhaps to avoid plunging into the ugly depths of your superficial scale, you might have even tried to pick out things that you do like about his appearance. He’s got nice eyes, a smiley disposition, or most of his hair, but no matter how you slice it, you just aren’t attracted to him. I’ve known a few Bobs in my experience, and I kick myself for being so ingrained with cultural ideals about the nature of appearance. You almost want to play a recording of God’s words in 1 Samuel 16 while you sleep: “man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart….man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks at the HEART…man…”. Ugh! As much as we hate to admit, physical attraction is high on our list-and perhaps higher than it should be.

I’m not going to go so far as to say that physical attraction isn’t important. Let’s not forget that God designed it. When God introduces Eve to Adam in Genesis 2, Adam sings a song of praise about what God designed (even before words are spoken!). In Song of Solomon, there are descriptions of a healthy physical attraction between a husband and wife leading up to and after marriage. But in looking at God’s design for attraction, we need to understand the wholeness of a person in God’s design for humanity itself.

Marriage isn’t just about loving someone physically and emotionally, but spiritually as well. Why do we feel pressure to focus primarily on the physical and emotional in defining beauty? Because that’s ALL our post-Christian culture has! It rejects the soul and the spiritual and in doing so, is left with the physical and a slice of the emotional. The mindset that says we are “just a bunch of chemicals” will only be able to ask “Is she hot?” or “But how does he make you feel?” Without acknowledging our wholeness as image-bearers, you can only scratch the surface of what constitutes real, God-intended attraction.

Then what is a “spirit” and how does it change our perception of attraction? In Romans 8:5, it talks about the two parts of a human: the material and immaterial. “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit.” Matthew 26:4 echoes the same sentiment as Jesus pleads with the disciples to stay awake in his final hours with them before Calvary. “The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” Lastly, in John 3:6, Jesus tells Nicodemus “that which is born of the flesh is flesh and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” Salvation awakens our true selves as God always intended. In being “made alive in Christ”, the immaterial side, the side that interacts with our emotions and flesh, becomes an undeniable force that enables us to understand that which is spiritual. It is the part of us that also interacts with the power of the Holy Spirit, meaning that nothing fleshly is permanent. The earthly part of us is now moldable!

How does this understanding affect our attraction to the opposite sex? To quote a blog post I recently read by Jeremy Pierre on the TGC blog,

Our opinion of what constitutes good looks must not be an idol carved in stone. We need to be willing to challenge our own preferences regarding physical attraction in light of the greater principle that attraction stems from valuing a person. 1

I am a firm believer that initial feelings about physical un-attraction can in some cases be persuaded by whole-person attraction. But I will admit, along with Jeremy later on in his post, that there is mystery to this concept. It’s hard to say how it exactly happens, but it can. And we’ve all heard stories about the girl or guy who wasn’t initially attracted to someone but how time and friendship changed their mind. Rare? yes. Difficult for me to write about? Uh-huh. Even more difficult to carry out? Yes. But with our understanding of God’s design, shouldn’t Christians be the least superficial humans on our planet?

The Falseness of Perfection

To wrap this up, I’ll leave you with this thought. In the end, I don’t think any of us truly want perfection in a future spouse. Deep down, I think we understand that perfection is false. In the places you crave perfection, you are really seeking that which is beyond the capability of anyone you could date. Your spirit is likely searching for that which is only offered by Jesus. We ultimately want eternity with our perfect Savior. But in the meantime, don’t seek out perfection in others. Seek honesty. Seek the mixture of courage and humility that won’t lead you to believe they’re something that they are not. Seek someone with the desire and perseverance to be who God has called them to be. And if you find yourself stumbling over what is external, press into the Spirit and settle on friendship…for now. See what God will do.

As always, thanks for reading! Questions or comments? Let’s talk!

Love,

Rachelle

1 (You can find the rest of Jeremy’s post here Do Looks Matter?)

The David to Your Jonathan

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” ~Proverbs 27:17

            The sun is setting over a Pacific ocean levy, signaling the end of a near-perfect day that included bicycling along the Huntington boardwalk, walking and talking along the seaweed splashed sand, and side-splitting laughter over a cup of coffee in a beach side café. Memories and adventures ingrained for years to come, though part of a treasury of many similar recollections with the same God-given companion. Put yourself there. Feel the soft sand against your feet and the gentle breeze sweep by your face as you catch the scent of the salty ocean air. Feel your core muscles ache from the belly laughter and sigh at the thought of a beautifully painted sky, relishing the Creator’s handiwork-together. Now look at the person pedaling next to you as you maneuver through the crowds and then race competitively through each clearing. Who do you see? What kind of person does your mind automatically insert into these hypothetical memories?

As it turns out, these memories are not so hypothetical for me. They are very real, but the person next to me for each of them might not look how you pictured. My reminiscing is not of a romantic date or a summer fling. My companion is not a tall dark and handsome gentleman that some of you may have fancied in your recreation of each scene (hey, I would’ve done the same!). As it turns out, SHE has blond curly hair, a slightly shorter stature than me due only to her tinier femurs (yes, we are weird enough to spend time on comparing skeletal differences), blue eyes, and a fondness for stopping to smell the roses. She is my best friend. She is my soul-sister. She has taught me by example how to pray without a rehearsed formula, how to be vulnerably open about the sins I battle, and how to make Christ my closest friend. She literally slammed her bedroom door in my face one time when I tried to share important news with her before talking to God about it in prayer. “Talk to Jesus!…SLAM!” Just like that. And in the long run, I was thankful for it. She should be given a lot of credit for the ideas in this blog because most of it was born out of conversations we’ve had first as we process life together as single women who want husbands but desire to live for Jesus more. We’ve learned how to resolve conflict (and how not to), how to confront each other on sin and how to humbly receive loving criticism. We’ve encouraged each other in many trials and battled jealousy against one another (probably me more than her because she’s gorgeous and Christ has done an amazing work in her life). We’ve learned how to balance the deeper, spiritual parts of our friendship with the simpler lighthearted sides of adventure and silliness. We’ve been in ministry together and have watched God use our friendship to bless others. We have dreams to marry best friends and we pray to that end ALL. THE. TIME. Her friendship has been used by God to shape me into the woman I am today, and I am positive that if marriage is on my horizon, God is using this friendship to prepare me for it.

In this post, I want to talk about the importance of same-gender friendships. I will argue how valuable they are on the road to marriage, if the Lord wills, or whatever else He might have. Keep in mind that I only have the female perspective on things, so that will influence how I write. Nevertheless, I am a firm believer that guys need close friendships just as much as the ladies. To frame this conversation, I decided to do a little research on one of the most iconic “bro-mances” in Scripture- that of David and Jonathan.

Unlikely Friends

Jonathan was the son of King Saul, and therefore a prince of Israel with an eventual claim to the throne to be the second king of the fledgling kingdom. Even outside of bloodlines, he was a worthy candidate. In a story out of 1 Samuel 13-14, Jonathan proves to be a man who is deeply respected by those he leads and a great man of faith. After leading his father’s troops to beat a small garrison of the Philistine army, the enemy is agitated and gathers up a group of “thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen and troops like the sand on the seashore in multitude.” We are told that the men with Saul “trembled,” and they had good reasons to. Not only were they a mere 600 in number, but they didn’t have any blacksmiths to make real weapons. The only two swords on hand were [naturally] given to the king and his son, but the rest of the weapons amounted to a bunch of farm equipment: sickles, axes, and mattocks (not sure what those are, but they don’t sound very menacing!). The scene is basically that of a single pee-wee football team going up against all NFL teams-combined! In the midst of these impossible odds, Jonathan decides to simply waltz over to the Philistine camp with his assistant. You hear a lot about David’s bravery in fighting Goliath, but we see the same kind of courage in Jonathan as he says to his armor-bearer, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of these uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few.” Then his armor-bearer replies, “Do all that is in your heart. Do as you wish. Behold, I am with you heart and soul.” Long story short, the Lord responds to the prince’s faith by throwing the enemy’s army into confusion and the Philistines are defeated!

We learn two important things about Jonathan from this passage. One, the dude’s got guts and an amazing faith in God to match! Two, his armor-bearer, the one who watches his life probably more closely than anyone else, trusts his leader enough to follow him to almost-certain death. So when God comes on the scene after Saul has acted foolishly and tells the king in 1 Sam 13:14 that his kingdom would “not continue,” it had nothing to do with a lack of a qualified candidate in Saul’s bloodline. God goes on to say (via Samuel the prophet): “The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.”

Did Jonathan struggle with this pronouncement? He would not be allowed to lead the nation he had fought to protect. Instead, the honor would be bestowed on an unlikely shepherd boy. We are not told if he experienced any sadness over God’s choice, but we do see his whole-hearted acceptance of it when he befriends the very same “man after God’s own heart.”

Soul Brothers

In 1 Samuel 18:1, immediately after David fought Goliath and had an audience with King Saul, God’s Word says, “As soon as he [David] had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” The Hebrew word for “knit” here means “to tie, physically or mentally, in love or in league,” and the word “loved” is the same word used in Proverbs 17:17 when it says “A friend loves at all times” or in Proverbs 18:24, which says “There is a friend that sticks closer than a brother.” These guys became closer than their biological family members, and Jonathan loved his new bud David in a way that put his friend’s needs before his own, even when it meant giving up the throne. CS Lewis once said that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one,” and I think it is a perfect description of the relationship between David and Jonathan. They had the same kind of faith in God that caused them to confidently put their lives at risk. They saw in each other a kindred spirit, and so they were inseparable, even as their new friendship underwent terrible trials.

The Enduring Friendship

Scripture only gives a few more scenes from this faithful duo. Soon after beginning their friendship, they ended up becoming relatives when David married Jonathan’s sister, but they weren’t one big happy family for long, as Saul’s jealousy of David began to cause tension. In 1 Samuel 19, Jonathan was among those told by Saul to kill David, but Jonathan spoke well of David to Saul, risking his life in doing so since Saul was so consumed with rage. Saul reminded Jonathan in 1 Samuel 20:31 that “as long as the son of Jesse lives on the earth, neither you nor your kingdom shall be established.” But this did not hinder Jonathan’s resolve to be faithful to his friend. Things got so bad that it was decided for David to flee to save his life. We get a glimpse of their last exchange on earth in 1 Samuel 20:41-42. “David rose from beside the stone heap and fell on his face to the ground and bowed three times. And they kissed one another and wept with one another, David weeping the most. Then Jonathan said to David, ‘Go in peace, because we have sworn both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, “The Lord shall be between me and you, and between my offspring and your offspring, forever.” And he rose and departed, and Jonathan went into the city.” Eleven chapters later, Jonathan was killed in battle and David mourned. A last trace of their friendship can be seen in David’s kindness to Jonathan’s son. It would have been common to kill all the bloodline of the previous royal family so that no contenders could ever threaten the throne, but David remembered his friend and showed favor to his offspring as he promised.

The Legacy of a Friendship

David and Jonathan exist in history as a timeless example of a friendship that God used mightily to affect not just the two men themselves, but the entire nation of Israel for good. Imagine if David did not have Jonathan. Saul might have been successful in harming David, and, well, there goes a key player in the ancestry of Christ! God placed Jonathan and David in the same era, at the same palace, and with similar hearts for a much greater purpose than either of them might have realized.

Hopefully you are still with me and didn’t doze off during my history lesson. Frankly, I rather enjoyed the quest involved in writing it! I’m writing this post because I think that, for a lot of singles, close, same-gender friendships are extremely undervalued. Blame it on a subjective culture that prevents people from centering friendships on objective truth. Blame it on a preoccupation with finding “the one.” Blame it on a slightly homophobic element of church culture. Blame it on the wimpiness of our generation when it comes to resolving conflict. I’m really not sure EXACTLY what has caused a drift towards shallower friendships, but it’s a sad loss for those missing out. I have a theory that a percentage of divorces could be prevented if the causal issues would have been sorted out in pre-marital same-gender friendships. Think about it. If I can’t work out a relationship with the gender that I can generally empathize with, how can I expect to be successful when it comes to the opposite sex? As a high school teacher, I hear girls say all the time how they only have guy friends because girls are just too “dramatic.” While girls can be a bit theatrical in their approach to friendship, avoiding them altogether means giving up on a huge training ground for future relationships, and possibly even marriage.

The Solution

As God’s image-bearers, we need to be in community. How in the heck are we going to practice the “one-anothers” otherwise? Do we really want the test-run of deep friendship to be in the context of marriage? If you desire marriage and pray to that end all the time, then seek after the relational skills you’ll need to serve your spouse well! If you don’t have a Jonathan (or a Jacquelyn?), then pray about it. Ask that God would provide a pal. Keep your eyes open as you serve in ministry and hang out with fellow believers. Look for someone who’s got a similar mind and heart for God just like Jonathan and David found in each other. Then purpose to get to know them and be in prayer for them. Follow up on those prayer requests, and be a faithful friend to them. See what God does with it. I was talking just today with my mentor about her friend of 20 years. They met at a bookstore when one’s child spit on the other’s. Little did they know then that they would be partnering in ministry two decades later as close friends to effect change in other parts of the world.

Singleness can be a lonely road, but it doesn’t have to be. We need to be open to friendships that God might want to use to challenge and grow us before He brings anyone else along. Let’s purpose today to not become dull in our singleness, but to instead, find a mutual sharpener. Besides, adventure and good memories are out there, and they don’t require a spouse!

Cheers to FRIENDSHIP!!!

~Rachelle

PS. If you are just now joining the conversation, be sure to read up on the basis for this site in the 6 week Singleness Series, starting here–>

https://notsingledout.com/2015/01/04/door-number-three/#more-5