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On Top Of A Tower Of Crates

We naturally build friendships with (and are drawn to) those in our life who share the same interests or are like us. We want to be able to share, connect and engage with people who understand us and affirm our choices in life. It makes us feel good and fills our deep desire to belong.

But my experience tells me that people change, and consequently, interests change too. When that primary school friend in our soccer team stopped playing soccer, we stopped playing friends. Just because we are adults doesn't mean we are less fickle. When that friend has a baby, changes jobs or moves away, we have less to talk about and 'drift' apart.

This is scary because we are building friendships on the foundation of similarities. When friends become less interested in our hobbies, or more specifically - less like us, the very reason for being friends in the first place becomes void. Like supermarket food, friendships expire. We should all have a label that reads, 'Best before differences'.

Unfortunately, I am no stranger to friendships expiring. All of my fingers and toes couldn't count the amount of friendships I have had that have not only expired but gone sour too. It is painful, and devastating. The friendships that drift away seem like a drizzle of rain compared to the thunderstorm of heartache that accompanies those friendships that have people (at either end!) change.

The irony is that we base a deep desire to belong, on a shallow need to be liked. Then, because we surround ourselves with people who are just like us, we spend our time doing the same things with the same people.

So, there I was. On top of a tower of crates stacked 12 high with a harness and bungee cord strapped between two trees in the park - as far removed from my theatrical lifestyle as possible - wondering why it was that I was enjoying myself so much. And then I look down to see a group of my closest friends. A group of people who want to share life with me, and yet barely have anything in common with me. A group of friends who really understand me, and yet don't understsnd what a pas de bouree is. A group of friends who - for the first time in my life - I honestly adore doing life with. And in the diversity of this group of friends lies the answer to the paradox of having real and lasting friendships…

Jesus.

You see, we are not gathered around a temporary fad or fashion that will be here one day and gone the next, taking our friendships with it. Instead, we are gathered at the foot of the cross, with our eyes fixed on the eternal, here-for-always, never fading, author of salvation - Jesus Christ. Only here do we have the opportunity to stand next to those who are doing the same, but are not the same.

As I fall from the tower of crates, caught by the harness, I realise that these friendships can't fall or fade, because the fact that we are sinners saved by grace will never change. We can be as contrasting as God created us to be and celebrate doing life together because it is not about who likes us or how that person can fulfil our deep desire to belong.

Instead, it's about Jesus. The desire to be affirmed in a friendship is replaced by the affirmation he gave us at the cross. This removes the focus from myself, and shifts it to a focus on Him.

Also, we belong to Christ who purchased us with His life, so the deep desire to belong has already been made perfect in Him. This makes us brothers and sisters in Christ, which elevates these friendships to that of family.

The best part of all is that the imperfect yet glorious friendships we have now may fluctuate in intensity, but they won't ever expire because they are only a shadow of the incredible community we will experience for the rest of eternity...

There's gonna need to be a lot of crates!

 

Callum Mansfield is husband to Jasmine, father to Theo, a professional choreographer, member of Disciples Church Springfield and follower of Jesus.