Authentic friendship is rare. It requires transparency and risk. It depends on trust, "having each other's back." It expects nothing in return and does not keep score.
True friendship mandates loyalty and unselfishness. It demands that we accept others for who they are, weird mannerisms and all.
Spending extended periods of time in close proximity is a true test of a friendship. A few weeks ago I was blessed by sharing the lives of seven girlfriends in Mazatlan, Mexico.
We laughed until our sides hurt and cried over stories of aging parents, children's choices and the death of a best friend. In-depth discussions about political agendas, economic disasters, spiritual warfare and our children's inconsiderate in-laws consumed mornings on the veranda where we shared roasted coffee, warm carrot muffins and fresh mango.
In spite of differences in financial status, religious denominations, political affiliations and clothing size, we put those aside and focused on commonalities because we all realize this time together is necessary for us mentally, physically and spiritually.
Pictures of grandkids and stories of their accomplishments consume late afternoon conversation and provide a welcome relief from the domino game I am, no doubt, losing. Memories of our children being bullied in middle school provoke a unified reaction, hoping the perpetrator "got his" in the end. (I know, I know -- not a very Christian reaction, but occasionally we slip.)
We discuss stressful jobs caused by bosses who shouldn't be "bossing," Botox (Would God approve?), even tricep injections to reduce flab, and every year we promise we will return in 12 months several pounds lighter.
But only one does. (We like her anyway.)
Each reunion is special, but this time we all shared something that will forever unite our sisterhood. Cathy's married daughter, Lindsey, had sent her a Fed-Ex package telling her not to open it until she was with us in Mazatlan. The second evening we all gathered around for the unveiling.
Inside were two envelopes, one with a "#1" written on it and the other with a "#2." The first card congratulated her mother on her eighth year as a cancer survivor. The second one, however, was the shocker: it was a picture of an ultrasound and a note telling Cathy that she (Lindsey) was nine weeks pregnant. Lindsey had purposefully not told her mother for over two months so that Cathy could celebrate the news with us.
And celebrate we did! It was a moment that sealed the bond the of sisterhood we already share.
I always come home from my Mazatlan trips rejuvenated, knowing I have in these friendships something I must never take for granted.
But as much as I appreciate my girlfriends, I am reminded that there is one I need to cherish even more, and his name is Jesus. He needs to be the foundation for all I do. After all, His is the friendship that will never fail, and it is in Him that I must delight. He and I should have special moments of laughter as well as tears, and just like with my girlfriends, my communication with Jesus needs to be effortless.
Conversing with Him over morning coffee should not be the only time I share with Him. As the day progresses, I must learn to appreciate those special moments that bond us, that solidify our friendship, knowing He is involved in everything I say and do ... even when I lose at dominoes.